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University College National Historic Site of Canada

15 King's College Circle, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1968/11/28

General view of University College showing its prominent siting at the top of a green in the heart of the University of Toronto campus.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.
General view
General view of University College showing its use of the Romanesque style.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.
General view
Detail view of University College showing its high quality stone construction.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.
Detail view

Other Name(s)

University College National Historic Site of Canada
University College
University College

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1856/01/01 to 1859/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/06/10

Statement of Significance

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.

Heritage Value

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.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements contributing to the heritage character of this site include:
- its prominent siting at the top of a green in the heart of the University of Toronto campus;
- its continued use as a university building;
- its C-shaped footprint with main south-facing façade and central tower from which extend two wings sheltering a green quadrangle;
- its use of the Romanesque Revival style, notable in its lively exterior massing with towers, buttresses, varied roof types and angles, and bold detailing with polychrome roof slates, stone carvings over the doors and windows, use of classically inspired columns;
- its high quality stone construction;
- its surviving 1890s interior configuration with central entrance leading to purpose-built spaces; and,
- its high quality interior detailing including stone carvings and wood finishes.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1968/11/28

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Education and Social Well-Being
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type

Current

Education
Post-Secondary Institution

Historic

Architect / Designer

F. W. Cumberland

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

558

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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