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Faculty of Arts & Science

Arts & Science News

History of Arts & Science documented in new book

Robert Craig Brown


A recently-released book by Robert Craig Brown, FRSC, professor emeritus in the Department of History, documents the fascinating history of Arts & Science at the University of Toronto between 1827 – 1990. The book is chock full of interesting facts and tidbits.

Did you know?

  • When King’s College – U of T’s precursor – officially opened in 1843, the first classes taught included classics, chemistry, philosophy and math.
  • In order to be admitted, each of the first 27 students had to be quizzed by the president or vice-president on one author and poet in both Greek and Latin, on the first two books of Euclid’s Elements and on simple and quadratic equations.
  • Sidney Smith Hall is named after the former principal of University College and the seventh president of U of T. Sidney Smith also went on to serve as secretary of state for external affairs under Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.
  • In 1890, a tragic fire gutted most of University College. Donors re-stocked the college’s book collection with over 40,000 new titles in two years.
  • Griffith Taylor, a member of the Scott Antarctic Expedition joined U of T in 1935 to be the head of Canada’s first Department of Geography.
  • In 1960, the Faculty of Arts became the Faculty of Arts & Science.
  • In 1974, an agreement was struck between the St. George campus colleges and the university to establish several new centralized departments of subjects that had been taught in the colleges. These included classics, English, French, German and philosophy.