The University of Toronto: A History, Second Edition

The University of Toronto: A History, Second Edition

Weight 0.00 lbs
By Martin L. Friedland
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2013
World Rights
820 Pages
ISBN 9781442615366
Published Mar 2013
ISBN 9781442648005
Published Apr 2013

The University of Toronto is Canada’s leading university and one of Canada’s most important cultural and scientific institutions. In this history of the University from its origin as King’s College in 1827 to the present, Martin Friedland brings personalities, events, and changing visions and ideas into a remarkable synthesis. His scholarly yet highly readable account presents colourful presidents, professors, and students, notable intellectual figures from Daniel Wilson to Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan, and dramatic turning points such as the admission of women in the 1880s, the University College fire of 1890, the discovery of insulin, involvement in the two world wars, the student protests of the 1960s, and the successful renewal of the 1980s and 1990s.

Friedland draws on archival records, private diaries, oral interviews, and a vast body of secondary literature. He draws also on his own experience of the University as a student in the 1950s and, later, as a faculty member and dean of law who played a part in some of the critical developments he unfolds.

The history of the University of Toronto as recounted by Friedland is intimately connected with events outside the University. The transition in Canadian society, for example, from early dependence on Great Britain and fear of the United States to the present dominance of American culture and ideas is mirrored in the University. There too can be seen the effects of the two world wars, the cold war, and the Vietnam war. As Canadian society and culture have developed and changed, so too has the University. The history of the University in a sense is the history of Canada.

Martin L. Friedland is University Professor and Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Toronto. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1990, and was awarded the Molson Prize in 1995.









Epilogue: (2000) A Walk through the Campus

Sources and Credits

Principal Sources


Picture Credits

Readers of the Complete Manuscript


Lucid, engrossing, and often surprising, Martin Friedland’s history depicts a small colonial university’s ascent to its present life as the core of Canadian education and a world centre for scholarship.  Miraculously, he draws all the complexities of idealism, ambition, and politics into a cohesive narrative.

Robert Fulford

‘In forty-two chapters, [Martin Friedland] narrates the comprehensive history of the University of Toronto from its first abortive charter to the advent of a new president in the year 2000.  The author’s range is impressive.  He touches almost all bases, from astronomy to athletics, administration to archaeology, giving us the history of every division, every era, and every presidency along with much more.

Michael Bliss, Professor of History, University of Toronto

‘ … a remarkable, indeed an indispensable, text for those interested in the university and in the intellectual history of Canada.’

Alec Scott, Quill and Quire

‘… author and publisher are to be congratulated on a civilized text that is handsomely produced and attractively illustrated … Friedland handles the many issues of the university’s history deftly and with economy.’

Ged Martin, British Journal of Canadian Studies

‘A magisterial history for a magisterial institution … Friedland spins a tale that includes not just the major events in the university’s life, but also such indelible figures such as Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan.’

Notable Book, The Globe and Mail

‘Friedland has succeeded in writing a lucid, balanced, and representative volume which should appeal to both constituencies that the Press may have in mind, the larger university community and those with scholarly interests in higher education, the University of Toronto, or the city of Toronto … He has written a book that is rich in content and one that will be of interest to many.’

Hannah Gay, H-Canada

‘A full scale, start to finish, no topic left untouched, history of his university … Martin Friedland’s [book] is lively and generous …don’t miss the beautiful epilogue at the end of the book – winter thoughts from a writer at once smart and humane.’

Christopher Moore, Law Times

‘Here is a hefty volume, entirely readable and, no doubt, fully reliable – a chronicle well worth ploughing through.’

Chris and Pat Raible, OHS Bulletin

‘Martin L. Friedland’s magnum opus, The University of Toronto, covers a lot of ground as it chronicles the history and development of Canada’s leading institution of higher learning … [Friedland] has a knack for bringing ideas, events, and personalities into a coherent and readable synthesis.’

Sheldon Kirshner, Canadian Jewish News

‘Friedland’s History copes impressively with a task whose dimensions and complexity defeated the last attempt and may have deterred others. It sustains the reader’s interest surprisingly well for an institutional history, and creates a lively impression of a continuously evolving organism. The reader’s confidence in the trustworthiness of the story is sustained throughout by the systematic presentation of the evidence and handling … This is a big and badly needed job very well done. U of T at last has a worthy account of itself.’

Kenneth McLaughlin, Literary Review of Canada

‘A remarkably compelling read.’

Julia Horne, Australian Canadian Studies

‘Legal scholar Martin Friedland’s history of his alma mater and long-time professional home is a massive but very readable and endlessly suggestive account of an institution born in controversy, hounded by scandals of various sorts, haunted by the “spectre” of faculty unionizing, stunned by catastrophes such as the University College fire of 1890 and the human cost of two world wars, but able through it all to serve many generations of students well … Friedland is an even-handed guide through the complexities of social change, the outstripping of resources by social expectation and intellectual ambition, the arcana of medical and legal education, or the challenge to the campus environment from greater Toronto’s recurrent demolition derbies. He is extremely astute in his account of academic governance … ’

L.M. Findlay, Canadian Literature

‘One did not really believe it could be done … this one is a gem, print, paper, finish, and not least a glorious run of pictures. One can enjoy the book just for the pictures. But it is the author who is remarkable … Professor Friedland writes as if he wanted his book to be read. And read, indeed, it can be.’ ‘a marvelous work’ ‘It is not often in a book review that one can truly say, compliments all round, to publisher, designers, researchers, but especially to the author. One thinks of Tolstoy’s remark out of the Russian countryside, “the footsteps of the master cultivate the soil.”’

P.B. Waite

‘This is a large, ambitious book that attempts to chronicle the main developments in all aspects of the institution. The breadth of material is awesome, and Martin L. Friedland, a distinguished professor in the Law Faculty, has told his complicated story with extraordinary clarity, mixed with tact and an effective dry wit.’
‘The book is absorbing.’
‘Friedland’s is a splendid achievement, and all should be grateful. The book is generously illustrated, attractively produced, uncluttered, and easy to read … Admirable.’

W.J. Keith, Canadian Book Review Annual

‘A significant achievement … He succeeds in telling a story that holds the reader’s interest.’

Jack Dimond, University of Toronto Quarterly

‘A masterful and massive piece of scholarship that fills a gaping hole in the historiography of Canadian higher education. At last, Canada’s premiere academic institution has an up-to-date, comprehensive history … It was a monumental and complex task; the final result is a narrative of excellent quality that fills a large gap in the history of Canadian higher educational and scholarship. The story is written in clear, well-organized and serviceable prose. The material – thoroughly researched, carefully documented, substantial and interesting – is presented in finely illustrated and easily digestible chapters … Friedland’s “perfect post-retirement project” has made an important, enduring, and praiseworthy contribution to his alma mater and to Canadian history.’

James D. Cameron, The Canadian Journal of Higher Education

‘The Story of how the university came to be one of the premier research institutions in the world is well documented. The book will also appeal because of its readable prose and short and punchy chapters.’

Chris Hyland, Alberta Journal of Educational Research vol 60:01:2014

Heritage Toronto Award of Merit, Heritage Toronto (Canada) - Winner in 2003
Chalmers Award in Ontario History, Champlain Society (Canada) - Winner in 2002
Ontario Historical Society J.J. Talman Award (Canada) - Winner in 2005