University of Trinity College

The University of Trinity College, referred to as Trinity College, Toronto or Trin, is the smallest and most prestigious federated college of the University of Toronto, with 1820 undergraduate students. Trinity also houses an Anglican divinity school with 138 students, and is a constituent member of the Toronto School of Theology. Trinity maintains very high academic standards for undergraduates. Between 2005 and 2009, Ontario students entering Trinity had an academic average of 92 per cent, and of the seven colleges at the University of Toronto, Trinity has the highest proportion of students who graduate with "Distinction" or with "High Distinction". Moreover, the majority of Trinity alumni go on to pursue professional or graduate degrees, and the college has produced 35 Rhodes Scholars since its inception. The college maintains Oxbridge-style traditions which reflect its English roots, including the mandatory wearing of gowns at dinner, a chapel choir comprised partially of paid choral scholars, and the wearing of college scarves and blazers. The Anglican seminary is active in college life, with worship services held twelve times weekly in the chapel, but the student body is nonetheless diverse, with nearly 25% of undergraduates coming from 60 countries outside Canada.


In 1827, Bishop John Strachan, an Anglican priest and Archdeacon of York who arrived in Canada in 1799, received a Royal Charter from King George IV to build King's College at York (now Toronto). At the time the British Empire was being reformed along financial and religious lines, and one of the goals of the "new system" was to form churches (by way of land grants) and schools in all of the colonies. However, York was so small at the time that there were no funds available for actually building the college, and the first classes were not held until 1843. In 1848, the first local elections were held, and the land grants to the churches reverted to "crown" ownership. Strachan withdrew his support for the school when, in 1849, the school was secularised and became the University of Toronto on January 1, 1850. This action incensed Strachan, who immediately set about creating a private school based on strong Anglican lines. In 1850, the Cameron property on Queen Street, at the western end of Toronto, was purchased for £2,000, and the school was built on this site, on the west side of Garrison Creek (now buried). On 2 August 1851, the legislature of the Province of Canada passed an act incorporating Trinity College. This was supplanted by a Royal Charter for Trinity University, granted by Queen Victoria in 1852. The construction work was completed quickly, and students arrived in January 1852, including some from the Diocesan Theological Institute in Cobourg, Ontario, which was in effect replaced by the newly formed Faculty of Divinity at Trinity College. The first Provost, George Whitaker, was appointed in 1852, holding office until 1880. In 1884 the college admitted its first woman student; in 1888, St. Hilda's College was created for the women students of Trinity.

Federation with the University of Toronto
By withdrawing financial support, the Ontario government pressured its denominational universities to consider co-operation with the public sector in 1868. With Strachan now long dead, efforts began in the 1890s to unite Trinity with the University of Toronto. The matter was hotly contested. However, the college federated with the university in 1904. This was largely due to the efforts of then provost T. C. S. Macklem. The federative model solved the problem of reconciling religiosity and secularism, diversity and economic pragmatism. The College maintained university status and autonomy in instruction and staffing, but restricted its offerings to the sensitive and less costly liberal arts subjects. The University of Toronto, a non-denominational public university, was responsible for instruction in all other areas and for the granting of degrees (except in theology). Most of the degrees granted were turned over to the University of Toronto, with the exception of the degree in Divinity. This allowed Trinity to keep its status as a university. In the early part of this century, professional education expanded beyond the traditional fields of theology, law and medicine. Graduate training based on the German-inspired American model of specialised course work and the completion of a research thesis was introduced. It was recognised at Trinity that the dawning of the new century brought with it a rising cost of living and advancements in the fields of science and medicine. The financial resources of Trinity were only sufficient to maintain those values dearest to Strachan, those of residence life fashioned after the ancient universities of England and education in theology and the humanities. From the union, Trinity was to gain the financial security of the larger institution and access to a top notch science school, and a decent arts faculty. The University of Toronto was to gain a state of the art faculty of medicine as well as a traditional Oxbridge collegiate community. Efforts began to move to a location on the main Queen's Park campus. The present site on Hoskin ave. was purchased in 1913, but due to World War I construction was not begun until 1923. Bishop James Fielding Sweeny laid the cornerstone and the architects were Pearson and Darling. The new building was opened in 1925, at which point the land and original building were sold to the city, then later torn down in 1950. Only the old gates of the college still stand, at the southern entrance to Trinity Bellwoods Park on Queen Street West. The former women's residence building for St. Hilda's students is now a home for senior citizens and overlooks the northern end of the park from the west side. A triptych illuminated manuscript in three frames is a memorial Honour Roll dedicated to the men and women of Trinity College, University of Toronto who served and those who died during the First and Second World War. The policy of university education initiated in the 1960s responded to population pressure and the belief that higher education was a key to social justice and economic productivity for individuals and for society. In 1969 the TST was created as an independent federation of seven schools of theology, including the divinity faculty of Trinity College. In May 1974, along with St. Michael's and Victoria, the other federated universities, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the University of Toronto, establishing the terms of their new relationship with the Faculty of Arts and Science. Within its own federation, U of T granted all but theology or divinity degrees. Since 1978, by virtue of a change made in its charter, the U of T has granted theology degrees conjointly with Trinity College and the other TST member institutions. A plaque was erected by the Toronto Historical Board in 1988.

Recent history
In the latter part of the twentieth century, the place of longstanding institutions and traditions within the college community has changed in the face of both internal and external criticism. By October 1992, Episkopon, present within the college since 1858, was officially dissociated from Trinity. Likewise, in 2004 the college board of trustees voted narrowly in favour of ending Trinity's long practice of same-sex residency, and beginning in 2005 large portions of Trinity's residences became home to both men and women, although still separated by houses or wings.

Buildings and environs

Main Building
The southern facade of Trinity's main building on Hoskin Avenue (seen in photo) was constructed in 1925, and was modeled on the 1851 old building at Trinity Bellwoods Park by Kivas Tully. The design of the main building is by Darling and Pearson, a noted Toronto architectural firm which constructed a number of other buildings on the University of Toronto campus including Convocation Hall and Varsity Arena. A 1941 addition by architects firm George and Moorhouse saw the construction of the west academic wing, which includes many of the College's public rooms, and the east residence wing. After the Chapel was constructed in 1955 (see section Chapel), the College's final wing to the north was added in 1961 by architects Somerville, McMurrich and Oxley, completing the enclosed quadrangle. The architectural style of the main building is Gothic Revival, with elements of Jacobethan (particularly in the roofline and towers on the south wing) and Tudor Revival (in the Angel's Roost tower). The main building of Trinity College sits across Hoskin Avenue from Wycliffe College, the low church Anglican seminary, and is primarily connected to the main University campus via a pathway underneath Soldiers' Tower on the west end of Hart House.

St. Hilda’s College
In 1888, it was decided that a distinct college was required for the women of Trinity, the first of whom had been admitted in 1884. St. Hilda's College occupied a number of buildings around Toronto, including on the main Trinity College grounds on Queen Street in present-day Trinity Bellwoods Park. In 1938, St. Hilda's moved into to site on Devonshire Place which it still occupies, west of the main Trinity building and the Larkin building. During the 1920s and 1930s, the University strongly favoured Georgian buildings, and St. Hilda's was built in this style, albeit with some embellishments, particularly the rounding of pediments. It was designed by architects George and Moorhouse, the same architects responsible for the east and west wings of the main Trinity building.

The back courtyard of the main Trinity building has long been a centre piece of student life at the college. At the original location of Trinity on Queen’s Street, the area backed on to an open ravine, still present at Trinity Bellwoods Park. Additions to Old Trinity began in 1877, with the erection of Convocation Hall to the north of the main entrance. This, along with the erection of the Chapel in 1883, created east and west wings of the college. Thus in 1903 it was held that Trinity was deserving of a significant expansion to the north, forming a double quadrangle found throughout the constituent Oxbridge colleges. However, after federation with the University of Toronto, it became clear that the relocation of Trinity to the grounds of UofT was a necessary reality, and thus hopes of a double quadrangle soon disappeared. It would be a half-century for dreams of a Trinity quadrangle to finally manifest themselves, with the construction of Body house and Cosgrave house in the 1950s creating a fully enclosed quadrangle. Today the quadrangle remains a hub of student life in the fall and spring academic sessions. Early in its life, the site was once home to the largest outdoor Shakespeare festival in the country. In the summer of 2007, the quadrangle was renovated with money from an anonymous donor. The new design features flagstone paths, replacing the former asphalt paths, as well as the Greek letter Chi (X), also the character for Christ, writ large in intricate flagstones.

The Trinity College Chapel was built with funds donated by the late Gerald Larkin (1885”“1961), who headed the Salada Tea Company from 1922 to 1957. He contracted the renowned English architect, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who designed the great Gothic Liverpool Cathedral and the ubiquitous red telephone boxes seen throughout the UK. Built in the modified perpendicular Gothic style, the main chapel extends 100 feet (30 m) to the reredos and is 47 feet (14 m) high at the vault bosses. Using only stone, brick and cement, the architects employed Italian stonemasons using ancient building methods; the only steel in the construction is in the hidden girders supporting the slate roof, with the exterior walls being sandstone.

Back Field
The Trinity College back field resides on the North edge of the Trinity building at 6 Hoskin Avenue, to the east of the Larkin building, and is bordered on the west by Philosopher's Walk and on the north by Varsity Stadium. It was recently redone with a contribution from the University of Toronto of approximately $500,000, with the purpose of bringing it up to internationally recognized track and field standards.

Junior Common Room
The Junior Common Room (commonly referred to as the JCR) is located in the western wing of the main Trinity Building, very near Strachan hall. A large portrait of C. Allan Ashley, a professor of the college, hangs to the left of the entrance. The room is used by many student organisations, including the Trinity College Literary Institute whose coat of arms adorns the mantle, and the Trinity College James Bond Society. It is a place of undergraduate socialisation, meetings and informal studying.

Strachan Hall
Strachan Hall, referred to as Strachan, forms the bulk of the western wing of the main Trinity building, and serves as the central dining hall for students residing in that building, as well as the venue of all regular formal High Table dinners. The hall was erected in 1941, immediately prior to war-time restrictions on building materials. The construction, like that of the chapel, was financed by Gerald Larkin. Adorning the walls of the hall are portraits of important figures in the history of the college. The largest portraits, of Bishop Strachan and Provost Whitaker, Trinity's first provost, hang from the north wall. On the front wall of the hall, prominent behind the High Table, hangs a large mediaeval tapestry. The tapestry is believed to have been woven in Flanders in the fourteenth century and is meant to depict the coming of the Queen of Sheba to the court of King Solomon. Before formal Hall each evening (Monday through Thursday), one of the Student Heads or another upper year (in order of precedence determined by seniority) is responsible for saying the Latin grace: Quae hodie sumpturi sumus, benedicat Deus, per Iesum Christum Dominum Nostrum. Amen. May God bless what we are about to receive this day, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Formal hall is also marked by the enforcement of a number of regulations known as “Strachan Hall etiquette”. The most evident of these is the dress code, of which Trinity’s distinctive academic gowns are the essential element for all men and women of college. In addition to the wearing of the gown, men are required to wear a jacket, collared shirt, long pants and a tie, as well as close-toed shoes. If a man of college has had the honour of being poored out, he is then permitted to wear his tie tied on the remains of his gown. For women of college, the dress code consists of a similar prohibition on open-toed shoes as well as a prohibition on short skirts. Although the dress code may look like an unnecessary burden to the casual observer, many students feel that it and other formalities lend a special atmosphere to the dinners that is not found in the rest of the university. This dress code and other points of etiquette are enforced by the second-year students, led by the male and female heads of second year. The second year students act as “deputies of the hall” and are in charge of enforcing the dress code as well as maintaining discipline during the meal. Any student in violation of the dress code will not be allowed to enter the hall until they are dressed appropriately; this regulation is relaxed for non-resident students. The second year students also have the authority to physically eject any student who causes a ruckus during the meal. In parody of the college’s Oxbridge traditions, the first year students will occasionally disrupt the formality of the meal by hurling buns at their fellow undergraduates. When this occurs, it is the job of the second years to eject all offending first years, or occasionally fellow upper years, from the hall. This is generally done with much struggle, however with little injury to any of the parties concerned. As the artillery is traditionally limited to simple bread rolls, no significant damage results from these incidents. This room was also used in the filming of the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer.


Trinity's student body consists of approximately 1700 undergraduate students, with a first-year enrollment limited to 400 Arts & Science students, and 140 Divinity students. Students are admitted to Trinity in line with the common framework (with the exception of the Faculty of Divinity) of the University of Toronto Colleges adhere to, which lays down the principles and procedures for admission to the University of Toronto, which they all observe. Trinity maintains a tradition of academic success, with thirty-five of its graduates having been awarded Rhodes Scholarships. From 2005-06 to 2009-10, Trinity's first-year class had an Ontario secondary school academic average of 90.9 percent. The college has two active academic faculties, that of Arts and that of Divinity. Trinity maintains its university status by maintaining a doctoral programme in the latter faculty.

The Faculty of Arts offers undergraduate major programs in Immunology, International Relations (IR), and Ethics, Society, and Law (ES&L) to students at U of T. Associated with the latter two is an academic program called Trinity One. Admission to the Trinity One program is separate from that of the college itself, with enrollment limited to 25 students per stream. At least one prominent professor teaches in each stream; for example, Robert Bothwell in the International Relations stream Mark Kingwell in Ethics, Society, and Law. Noted author Margaret MacMillan taught in the International Relations stream for the first two years of the program, prior to her departure for Oxford. The International Relations program benefits from the presence of the Munk Centre for International Studies (seen above), which is the centre of much post-graduate research, with a specialization in issues pertaining to the G8. Janice Stein, a prominent Canadian academic, is the current Director of the centre.

Beginning in 1837, representatives of the United Church of England and Ireland in Upper Canada met with the Society for the Propagation for the Gospel to solicit support for fellowships to enable the education of local clergy. With a guarantee of support, in 1841 Bishop John Strachan requested his Chaplains, the Reverend Henry James Grasett and the Reverend Henry Scadding of St. James' Cathedral and the Reverend Alexander Neil Bethune, then Rector of Cobourg, to prepare a plan for a systematic course in Theology for those to be admitted to Holy Orders. The three chaplains recommended that all candidates, including those being prepared by the Reverend Featherstone Lake Osler in Tecumseth, should be sent to Cobourg to be instructed by Bethune. On January 10, 1842 the first lecture was given at the Diocesan Theological Institution at Cobourg, with two students being present. Eight students were enrolled by the start of the next term and thirteen by midsummer. By January 1852, when the work was transferred to Toronto to become the Faculty of Divinity in the new Trinity College, forty-six of the Cobourg Institution's students had been admitted to Holy Orders. The Debating Society, the precursor of the Trinity College Literary Institute, and other student traditions were founded in Cobourg and brought to Toronto by the continuing students. Today, the Faculty of Divinity is a graduate faculty and a member of the Toronto School of Theology. As such, students enrolled in the faculty may take courses at any of the other constituent theological colleges. At the basic degree level, Trinity offers several Master of Divinity programs - a basic program, a "collaborative learning" model with self-directed study components, and an honours programme, which includes a thesis. For students not seeking Holy Orders, a Master of Theological Studies is offered. At the advanced degree level, students may pursue the Master of Arts in Theology, the Master of Theology, the Doctor of Theology and the Doctor of Ministry. A PhD in Theology can be earned through the University of St. Michael's College. Applicants to the ThM must hold an MDiv. Students can also enroll jointly in the MDiv and MA. Non-degree programmes are also offered. The Diploma in Ministry is intended for aspirants to Holy Orders who hold an academic degree in theology rather than an MDiv. The Diploma or Certificate in Ministry for Church Musicians explores the intersection of sacred music and theology. The Licentiate of Theology (LTh) allows non-degree students to complete the equivalent of two years' full time theological study, with or without a previous undergraduate degree. The Faculty of Divinity of the University of Trinity College's Arms and Badge were registered with the Canadian Heraldic Authority.

John W. Graham Library
The John W. Graham Library embodies nearly two centuries of vision, energy, and commitment to the academic enterprise of Trinity College. Its roots go back to 1828, when John Strachan secured a collection of some four hundred books from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge to stock the library of his fledgling university. Today the Graham Library is located in the Munk Centre for International Studies (formerly Devonshire House), occupying a heritage building renewed for the 21st-century, with 200,000 volumes, convenient technological resources, and fine study spaces. The Library serves primarily Trinity's undergraduate Arts and Science students, the graduate Divinity students and faculty of Trinity and Wycliffe Colleges, and the greater University of Toronto and Anglican Church communities who seek our resources. Subject strengths reflect the academic programs and interests of the two colleges: e.g., international relations, ethics, literature in English, philosophy, theology, Anglican church history, biblical studies.

Student life

Chapel Choir
The Trinity College Chapel Choir, which grew out of the Trinity Choral Club established in the 1890s, consists of about 30 singers of mixed voice, selected by audition. Trinity College awards choral scholarships to roughly one third of the choir, tenable for private voice coaching, from an endowment of $125,000. Since the construction of the Chapel in 1955, the Chapel Choir has sung an Evensong service every Wednesday night during term, in the tradition of Oxford and Cambridge choral foundations. The Chapel Choir sings from the loft at the rear of the chapel, approximately 20 feet (6.1 m) above the main chapel floor, where the Casavant pipe organ is also located. Accompaniment is provided by the Bevan Organ Scholar, typically an undergraduate music student, who is appointed for three years and paid from a $100,000 endowment. A Director of Music conducts the choir, mentors the organ scholar, and occasionally plays the organ during services. Since 2006, the Director of Music has been John Tuttle, who is also Professor of Organ at the Faculty of Music, Choirmaster and Organist at St. Thomas's Anglican Church, and Conductor of the Exultate Chamber Singers.

Dramatic Society
The Trinity College Dramatic Society (TCDS) was established in 1892, and since 1927 has put on at least one full-length production each year. In some years, an additional two or three short plays have also been produced. The TCDS used Hart House as a performance venue from 1921 until 1979, when the George Ignatieff Theatre (GIT) was constructed at Trinity. While most productions are now in the GIT, plays have also been staged in other rooms at Trinity and outside in the quadrangle.

Episkopon is a controversial secret society at Trinity, with a male branch founded in 1858 and a female branch founded in 1899. Despite many years as an official student organization at Trinity, Episkopon was censured and forcibly disassociated from the College in 1992, following allegations of racism and homophobia. Episkopon presents three annual "readings", during which Trinity students assemble to hear gossip and criticism of students in the form of jokes, songs, and poems. One reading each year is organized jointly by the male and female branches, but the other two readings are separate. Episkopon has been the subject of severe controversy in recent years: in 1985 it was linked to an attempted student suicide; in 1993, Trinity alumnus Declan Hill argued in a CBC Radio documentary that Episkopon ridicules certain groups and actions as a form of social control; and in 2008, a Trinity student sustained severe head injuries caused by hazing during an initiation ritual of the male branch.

James Bond Society
The Trinity College James Bond Society was founded in 1997 to promote the appreciation of James Bond. Each year, the Society holds several pre-dinner receptions where martinis are served Bond-style: shaken, not stirred; after dinner, a Bond movie is shown. Black tie is the required dress at all James Bond Society events.

Literary Institute
The Trinity College Literary Institute ("the Lit") predates Trinity, and was moved there from the Diocesan Theological Institute in 1852. The Lit holds weekly satirical debates on humorous topics, often based on upcoming holidays or College events, and occasionally holds "serious debates". The Lit also convenes a Competitive Debating Committee that provides training in parliamentary debate, hosts weekly debates for members, and sends teams to tournaments of the Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate.

Student government
At Trinity, the final student government authority is the Trinity College Meeting (TCM), a direct democracy body in which all students have equal standing (conditional on the wearing of gowns at meetings). The TCM directly governs major policy questions and the allocation of student funds, but also convenes committees responsible for specific topics. As well, the TCM delegates responsibility for daily affairs to eight student Heads, following annual elections. There are two Heads of College, two Heads of College (Non-Residents), two Heads of Arts (social) and two Heads of Divinity; in each case, one Head is female and one male. The current Student Heads are: Stefan Tarnawsky, Head of College; Melinda Jacobs, Head of St Hilda's College; Jonathan Scott, Head of Non-Residents; Haley Turnbull, Head of Non-Residents; Ian Sutcliffe, Head of Arts; Caroline Ross, Head of Arts; Maggie Helwig and Jesse Parker, Co-heads of Divinity.

Student publications
Trinity students publish a newspaper called The Salterrae ( Latin, meaning Salt of the Earth) which was founded as Trinlight in 1981. The annual yearbook is Stephanos ( Greek, meaning Crown). There is also a bi-annual journal of students' short stories, photographs and poetry, called the Trinity University Review; it was first published in 1880 as Rouge et Noir ( French, meaning Red and Black).

The atmosphere of rich traditions and the close knit community of Trinity College have traditionally shaped its students to become extremely successful in Canadian society. Trinity has graduated numerous notable academics including Michael Ignatieff and former Trinity provost Margaret MacMillan, numerous politicians including the aforementioned Michael Ignatieff, his father George Ignatieff, former Affiliations AUCC, TST Website “ Trinity College 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 secularisation 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 it was demolished. This gateway, put up in 1903, has been left standing in commemoration. ”


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