Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Tuesday Treasures Around the World

Tom the backroads traveller hosts this weekly meme.
Travel Tuesday
Our World Tuesday
My Corner of the World

Toronto ON

As I finish this post, which took a lot of research (note to self, please label/tag photos!) I realized I really enjoyed writing it and will continue with more posts about the University. You could spend days visiting the campus!

We're going to do some wandering around the University of Toronto landmarks this week. The campus is huge - 180 acres!

The University of Toronto (U of T or UToronto) is a public research university  located on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in the colony of Upper Canada. Originally controlled by the Church of England, the university assumed its present name in 1850 upon becoming a secular institution. As a collegiate university, it comprises eleven colleges each with substantial autonomy on financial and institutional affairs and significant differences in character and history. 

Maud Leonora Menten (March 20, 1879 – July 17, 1960) was a Canadian bio-medical and medical researcher who made significant contributions to enzyme kinetics and histochemistry. She is primarily known for her work with Leonor Michaelis on enzyme kinetics and co-authored Michaelis–Menten equation in 1913.
Maud Menten was born in Port Lambton, Ontario and studied medicine at the University of Toronto (B.A. 1904, M.B. 1907, M.D. 1911, Ph.D., 1916). She was among the first women in Canada to earn a medical doctorate. She completed her thesis work at University of Chicago. At that time women were not allowed to do research in Canada, so she decided to do research in other countries such as the United States and Germany.

Sir Frederick Grant Banting KBE MC FRS FRSC (November 14, 1891 – February 21, 1941) was a Canadian medical scientist, physician, painter, and Nobel laureate noted as the co-discoverer of insulin and its therapeutic potential.

In 1923 Banting and John James Rickard Macleod received the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Banting shared the honours and award money with his colleague, Dr. Charles Best. As of November 2018, Banting, who received the Nobel Prize at age 32, remains the youngest Nobel laureate in the area of Physiology/Medicine. In 1923 the Government of Canada granted Banting a lifetime annuity to continue his work. In 1934 he was knighted by King George V.

It's not only historical plaques scattered around. There are plenty of sculptures.

Henry Norman Bethune (March 3, 1890 – November 12, 1939) was a Canadian physician and medical innovator. Bethune came to international prominence first for his service as a frontline surgeon supporting the Republican faction during the Spanish Civil War. While Bethune was the man responsible for developing a mobile blood-transfusion service for frontline operations in the Spanish Civil War, he himself died of blood poisoning.


But it was his service with the Communist Eighth Route Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War that would earn him enduring acclaim. Dr. Bethune effectively brought modern medicine to rural China and often treated sick villagers as much as wounded soldiers. His selfless commitment made a profound impression on the Chinese people, especially CPC's leader, Mao Zedong. Mao wrote a eulogy to him, which was memorized by generations of Chinese people. Bethune is credited for saving millions of Chinese soldiers and civilians during the Second-Sino Japanese War, and is known worldwide as one of the most influential doctors of all time.

There are historical buildings as well.

When Victoria College federated with the University of Toronto in 1892, only 14 of its 226 students were women. 

But their numbers quickly grew, and within the next decade 63 women earned degrees while attending Victoria. However, the young ladies had trouble finding suitable places to live, so a group of prominent, public-spirited women formed an association to build Canada’s first residence for female university students. Annesley Hall opened in October 1903 with 47 residents.


The Toronto Magnetic and Meteorological Observatory is a historical observatory located on the grounds.  The original building was constructed in 1840 as part of a worldwide research project run by Edward Sabine to determine the cause of fluctuations in magnetic declination. Measurements from the Toronto site demonstrated that sunspots were responsible for this effect on Earth's magnetic field. When this project concluded in 1853, the observatory was greatly expanded by the Canadian government and served as the country's primary meteorological station and official timekeeper for over fifty years. The observatory is considered the birthplace of Canadian astronomy.

It is now the Student Union.

By the 1890s, the observatory had become crowded by the rapidly growing university. Electrification of the tramways along College Street just to the south, and the large quantities of metal used in the modern buildings surrounding the site threw off the instruments.

By 1907, new university buildings completely surrounded the observatory; dust from the construction clogged meteorological instruments, and at night electric lighting made astronomical work impossible. The Meteorological Office decided to abandon the site and move to a new building at the north end of campus at 315 Bloor Street West, trading the original Observatory to the University in exchange for the new parcel of land.

The university assumed ownership of the now-disused observatory building and was originally going to abandon it. Louis Beaufort Stewart, a lecturer in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, campaigned for it to be saved for the Department of Surveying and Geodesy. He eventually arranged for the building to be re-constructed on a more suitable site. Demolition work was carried out in 1907: the stones were simply left in place over the winter, and were used the following year to construct a re-arranged building just east of the main University College building (south of Hart House).

Sir John Henry Lefroy, a pioneer in the study of terrestrial magnetism served as director of the magnetic observatory from 1842 to 1853; In 1960, the Ontario Heritage Foundation, Ministry of Citizenship and Culture erected a Provincial Military Plaque in his honour on the University of Toronto campus.

More artifacts of the Toronto Magnetic and Meteorological Observatory, lie on a patch of grass off King’s College Road in the middle of the University of Toronto: a transit pillar used as part of the effort to capture of the 1883 transit of Venus, a line in concrete marking an actual meridian of Toronto, the device that set Toronto time.

Convocation Hall

In the latter half of the 19th century, the university began to see the need for a considerably larger ceremonial auditorium beyond the confines of University College, made more apparent by a fire that damaged much of the college in 1890. The construction of Convocation Hall was mainly financed by $50,000 raised by the University of Toronto Alumni Association and matching funds provided by Ontario government. The cornerstone was laid in 1904 and the construction completed three years later at almost twice the originally estimated cost.

Major additions and expansions to the building occurred in 1912 when a large pipe organ was installed in the auditorium, and in 1947 with an alteration and addition to the examination hall. The building would not become equipped with air conditioning until 1997. In 2006, a major restoration and refurbishment was undertaken by E.R.A Architects with funding from the alumni association. Work entailed refurbishing seats, restoration of grandeur of the circular foyer including decorative finishes, historical millwork, lighting installations, installing accessible washrooms and a fresh coat of paint, and restoration of the historic pipe organ—the fifth largest in Toronto. The next year, Convocation Hall celebrated its centennial.

Over the years, Convocation Hall has served as the venue for major events and performances. Songs on Premiata Forneria Marconi's album Live in USA were recorded at the hall in 1974. Bob Marley & The Wailers performed two shows of the Rastaman Vibration Tour there in 1976. Other popular musical performances during the 1960s and 1970s included appearances by Frank Zappa, Van Morrison, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Captain Beefheart.  The building hosted a recording of musician Hayden's live album, titled simply Live at Convocation Hall, in 2002. In 2007, former Vice President of the United States Al Gore delivered a public lecture on climate change at Convocation Hall and presented his documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth. 
I will finish with this plaque outside Hart House.

In October and November, 1969, activist history was made with the formation of the University of Toronto Homophile Association. This was the first group in Ontario to rally around lesbian and gay rights, and one of the first in Canada to be shaped by the new wave of sexual liberation politics.

Forty-two years later, in the late afternoon of November 2nd, 2011, this remarkable event was commemorated by the installation of a provincial plaque at University College, where UTHA’s first campus meeting was held. The plaque itself was then placed on the east side of the college (facing the Student Union building and Hart House).


  1. I love story of people all people, Thanks for sharing

  2. ...Toronto sure has a long list of notable people. It's nice to learn of the contributions that women have made. Perhaps one of these days we will become enlightened enough to have women as leaders in politics. Thanks Jackie for sharing, enjoy your week.

  3. Wow! What a fabulous place for historical people! I can only imagine the time it took for you to get this post together, so thank you very much!!

    Thanks for linking up at 'My Corner of the World' this week!

    My Corner of the World

  4. Interesting history. There was some important science going on there!

  5. Toronto is a very interesting city with lots of monuments and attractions. You've provided interesting information about your university.

  6. A city with a great University is always a richer and more diverse place to live ...or to visit. Yours is a beautiful campus and it was so interesting to learn of some of the contributions that have come from its scholars and researchers. The discovery of insulin was of particular interest as one of our great-grands is T1-Diabetic.

  7. The architecture of that university's older buildings has always appealed to me.


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