Page 6 Historic Buildings of Toronto

Convocation Hall, University of Toronto

Convocation Hall - click to enlarge

Located on King’s College Circle, Convocation Hall was designed by architects Darling and Pearson and was completed in 1906. Frank Darling was by then a veteran Toronto architect, having designed, among other buildings, the Victoria Hospital for Sick Children, and Holwood, the grand residence of businessman/philanthropist Sir Joseph Flavelle, now home to the faculty of law. Convocation Hall was modelled on the Sorbonne theatre in Paris. Apart from its function as a venue for university graduations, over the years Convocation Hall has been used for musical events, meetings and rallys, teach-ins, and as a lecture hall for Psychology 101.

Soldiers’ Tower, U of T

Soldiers' Tower - click to enlarge

Immediately after WW1 ended, planning had commenced at the university to erect a memorial tower in honour of students and faculty who had given their lives in the Great War. The tower was designed by Sproatt and Rolph, who were also the architects of Hart House, which stands beside the tower. The cornerstone was laid on Armistice Day, 1919, and the tower was completed in 1924. On the stone walls of the walkway beneath the tower are engraved the names of the roughly 1,200 students and faculty who died in the two world wars.

Trinity College, U of T

Trinity College - click to enlarge

Located on Hoskin Avenue, Trinity College was designed by architects Darling and Pearson, mentioned above in connection with Convocation Hall. In 1923 the cornerstone was laid, and the building opened to students in 1925, though construction of additional parts of the college continued for many years. Prior to 1925, Trinity had been a Church of England institution located on Queen Street West. (see next sketch) It came into being in 1852 largely due to the efforts of Bishop John Strachan, in response to the secularization of King’s College, the University of Toronto’s precursor.

Trinity College Gates

Trinity College Gates - click to enlarge

Located on Queen Street West at the entrance to Trinity-Bellwoods Park, these gates are a reminder of Trinity College, which once stood inside them. The historic plaque on the gates reads: “The University of Trinity College was located on this site 1852-1925, occupying a large gothic-revival building designed by Kivas Tully with later additions by Frank Darling. Trinity was founded as an independent institution by Bishop John Strachan following secularization of the provincially-endowed university. Awarded a Royal Charter in 1852, Trinity offered instruction in arts and divinity, and, for varying periods, in law and medicine. It also granted degrees in music, pharmacy and dentistry. In 1904 Trinity federated with the University of Toronto and in 1925 moved to a new but similar building on the Queen’s Park campus. The old building was used by the Kiwanis Boys’ Club until 1956 when in was demolished. This gateway, put up in 1903, has been left standing in commemoration.”

University College

University College - click to enlarge

University College, built in 1856-9, was designed by the architectural team of Frederic Cumberland and William G. Storm. The erection of University College marked the beginning of a new phase in the University of Toronto’s history, following the amendment, in 1849, of the original Royal Charter for King’s College, the university’s precursor. The original charter had been granted in 1827 by King George IV for the “establishment of a College…for the education of youth in the principles of the Christian Religion, and for their instruction in the various branches of Science and Literature”. It was understood at that time that “Christian Religion” meant Church of England. This favouritism towards the “established church” was strongly opposed by a growing number of non-anglican protestants, led by reform politician Robert Baldwin. Baldwin’s aim was to secularize the university, removing all requirements for faculty and students to subscribe to any particular faith. This he achieved in 1849, and the University of Toronto was born. In 1890 a disastrous fire occurred, destroying most of University College apart from a small section in the left of this photo. It was restored following the fire to resemble the original 1856 building.

Former Knox College

Knox College - click to enlarge

The building pictured here is located on Spadina Crescent just north of College Street. The historical plaque on the building reads: “Founded in 1844 by the Free Presbyterian Church as a seminary, Knox College was named in 1846 to honour Scottish reformer John Knox. After the 1861 union of Presbyterians, it remained as the only Presbyterian theological school in Toronto. This Gothic Revival structure, the college’s fifth home, was designed by Toronto architects Smith and Gemmel in 1875. The college received its charter to confer degrees in theology in 1881 and affiliated with the University of Toronto in 1887. It moved to new premises on King’s College Circle in 1915. This building has housed a series of occupants, including the Spadina Military Hospital. Connaught Laboratories, a world leader in the development and manufacture of vaccines, insulin and penicillin, purchased it in 1943 largely for penicillin production. The University of Toronto acquired the property in the 1970’s.”