Picture of a historic commemorative plaque
Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada commemorative plaque for University College National Historic Site, Toronto Ontario, 2004. 

University College was designated a national historic site in 1968.

Commemorative plaque: 15 King's College Circle, Toronto, Ontario Footnote 1

The building of University College in 1856-59 largely assured the future of the University of Toronto and drew it, in time, into a federal pattern, which was widely followed in Canada and the Commonwealth. Here was realized a major nineteenth century aspiration: The establishment of a non-denominational institution of higher learning supported by government. The building was designed by F. W. Cumberland and demonstrates his skill in freely adapting the Romanesque style to the purposes of a college in the New World.

Description of historic place

University College National Historic Site of Canada is a large, mid-19th-century college building situated on the St. George campus of the University of Toronto. Its prominent location at the top of the central campus green illustrates its important role in the history and life of the institution. An impressive Romanesque-revival styled pile, it is a large structure with a towered south-facing façade, two wings extending north and a medieval-inspired round building originally intended as a chemistry theatre. Together the components enclose a traditional campus quadrangle. Official recognition refers to the building on its legal lot.

 

Picture of a large historic building
University College campus in Toronto Ontario, 2004. 
Photo of a large historic building
University College campus in Toronto Ontario, 2004. 

Heritage value

Photo of an archway detail taken from a historic building
Detail of an archway at University College National Historic Site. 

University College was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1968 because:

  • it is one of the oldest collegiate buildings in Canada;
  • and, it assured the future of the University of Toronto and drew it, in time, into a federal pattern, which was widely followed in Canada and the Commonwealth.

The University College National Historic Site of Canada, built between 1856 and 1859, is associated with both the development of the University of Toronto, and with a national system of non-denominational institutions of higher learning supported by government. The building originally was designed by architect F.W. Cumberland, demonstrating his skill in freely adapting the Romanesque-revival style to the purposes of a North American educational institution. In 1890 a fire occurred, largely destroying the eastern end of the building. The exterior walls remained standing and reconstruction under architect David Dick was completed in the style of the original building.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1968 and 1970.

The National Program of Historical Commemoration relies on the participation of Canadians in the identification of places, events and persons of national historic significance. Any member of the public can nominate a topic for consideration by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

Get information on how to participate in this process