University of Trinity College

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Trinity College main building

The University of Trinity College, or simply Trinity College is one of the federated colleges making up the modern University of Toronto.

Trinity is considered one of the more elite colleges at the University of Toronto and in recent years has had the second-highest entering requirements, after Innis College. It is also well known for striving to continue an Oxbridge type atmosphere including mandating the wearing of gowns at dinner and, until 2005, preserving sex segregation in the residences. The college is also still quite thoroughly Anglican, even if many of the students are not.

Trinity's Faculty of Divinity is one of six Anglican seminaries in Canada, and is considered Anglo-Catholic. Trinity is also home to the Munk Centre for International Relations, one of Canada's premier International Relations schools.



In 1827, Bishop John Strachan, an Anglican deacon 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.

The college was borne into a turbulent period in colonial history. In 1848, the first local elections were held, and the land grants to the churches reverted to "crown" ownership. This left King's College in a somewhat odd position, and Strachan's support for the school vanished. In 1849, the school was secularized, 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 the University of Trinity College, 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 the Faculty of Divinity at Trinity College replaced. In 1884 the college admitted its first women student; in 1888, St. Hilda's College was created for the women students of Trinity. Trinity College was a highly regarded school throughout the nineteenth century, and was (perhaps surprisingly) fairly progressive.

With Strachan now long dead, efforts began in the 1890s to unite Trinity with the University of Toronto. Most of the degrees granted were turned over to the University of Toronto, with the exception of the degree in Divinity. In 1904 the college was federated with the University, and efforts began to move to a location on the main Queen's Park campus. Land was purchased in 1913, but due to World War I construction was not begun until 1923. 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.

In 2004, the College Board of Trustees voted narrowly in favour of ending Trinity's long practice of same-sex residency. Beginning in 2005, large portions of Trinity's residences will be home to people of both sexes, much to the chagrin of the residents.


Missing image
Munk Centre for International Relations (north wing)

Episkopon (sometimes spelled "Episcopon" earlier in its history) is the controversial Trinity College secret society that was founded in 1858. The society presents three "Readings" each academic year that are intended to portray the follies of the College's undergraduates in a humorous light. Some critics have claimed that these readings tend to single out certain groups and actions for ridicule as a form of social control. The Order has both a male and female branch that produce separate Readings. There was an especially great controversy in the early 1990s over the group's alleged treatment of homosexuals and women. The group left Trinity in 1992 and gave up its privileges to advertise on campus and to use public rooms at the College in exchange for the benefit of being exempt from censure.

Despite being disassociated from the College, Episkopon continues to hold Readings to this day and is still a well-known institution of the College, despite attempts on the part of the administration to quash it. (See link below)

While undergraduates many of the College's prominent alumni were members of Episkopon. These include: Adrienne Clarkson, Bill Graham, Atom Egoyan, and Archibald Lampman.

The current Scribes of Episkopon are CXLII, Alistair Scott, and CV, Justine Lewkowicz.


Trinity College (Men of College) and St. Hilda's College (Women of College) share with Wycliffe College, University College, and New College, the distinction of being Dominion cousins to namesakes in the University of Oxford in Britain, upon which the College system at the University of Toronto is itself modelled.

The Trinity College Literary Institute (or "Lit") pre-dates the College's founding as it was begun at the Diocesan Theological Institute in Cobourg. It is considered one of the oldest student debating societies in Canada.

Famous alumni of the College include Canada's current Governor-General, Adrienne Clarkson; Canadian Minister of National Defence Bill Graham; Canadian communications magnate Ted Rogers; filmmaker Atom Egoyan; and Canadian poet Archibald Lampman. Trinity's current Provost, historian Margaret O. MacMillan, is a Trinity alumna and the author of the best-selling book Paris: 1919.


  • Reed, T.A. (Ed.) (1952). A History of the University of Trinity College, Toronto, 1852–1952. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

External links


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools