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University of St. Michael's College

Coordinates: 43°39′56″N 79°23′26″W / 43.6656°N 79.3905°W / 43.6656; -79.3905
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University of St. Michael's College
University of Toronto
LocationToronto, Canada
NicknameBulldogs, Bay Street Fighting Irish (Historical),"Notre Dame of the North" (Historical)
MottoΕυσέβεια μουσική γυμναστική
Motto in EnglishGoodness, Discipline, Knowledge
Established15 September 1852; 171 years ago (1852-09-15)
Named afterSaint Michael the Archangel
Colours   Blue and White
PrincipalIrene Morra
PresidentDavid Sylvester
Endowment$30.2 million[2]

The University of St. Michael's College is federated with the University of Toronto. It was founded in 1852 by the Congregation of St. Basil and retains its Catholic affiliation through its postgraduate theology faculty. However, it is primarily an undergraduate college for liberal arts and sciences.

St. Michael's is most closely associated with teaching and research in the humanities and in theology. It is also known for being home to Marshall McLuhan throughout his influential career as a philosopher and communication theorist, from 1946 until his death in 1980. Both the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies and Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies reside within the college. St. Michael's College School is an affiliated boys school which was once the high school section of the college.


St. Michael's College was founded in 1852 as a Basilian college by Fr. Jean-Mathieu Soulerin and other members of the Congregation of St. Basil originally of Annonay, France.[3] The following year, it merged with St. Mary's Lesser Seminary under the unified control of the Basilian Fathers, whose establishment in Canada began with Bishop Armand-François-Marie de Charbonnel.[4] St. Michael's College educated pupils at three levels, operating as a preparatory school, as a liberal arts college, and as a minor seminary. The Basilians received a large estate in 1853 from John Elmsley, son of the Chief Justice of Upper Canada and a prominent philanthropist. St. Michael's College relocated to the new site east of the University of Toronto, and established the college parish, St. Basil's Church. The incorporation of the college was granted Royal Assent in 1855.[citation needed]

William Hay's original 1855 concept for the college's design

In the late 19th century when universities were closed to new Irish immigrants and many Canadians of Irish descent, St Michael's was seen as the only viable option and thus the school became a traditionally Irish filled college. Ever since this time St Michael's has been a bastion for higher education and a beacon for the Irish-Canadian community in Toronto and southern Ontario, with others coming from all over the rest of Canada to attend the dominantly Irish school.[citation needed]

By withdrawing its financial support in 1868, the provincial government encouraged denominational colleges to seek closer relations with secular institutions. St. Michael's affiliated with the University of Toronto in 1883, having secured a guarantee that it would conduct its own teaching in philosophy and history.[3] The university senate authorized St. Michael's to administer its own examinations in philosophy. On December 8, 1910, St. Michael's College became a federated college of the University of Toronto. The college maintained autonomy in faculty hiring and teaching in liberal arts subjects, while the University of Toronto governed examinations and the granting of degrees in all subjects except theology.[5] In 1912, Sir Robert Falconer, president of the University of Toronto, recognized the wish of St. Joseph's College and Loretto College to affiliate with the university. St. Joseph's and Loretto both became colleges of St. Michael's College, thereby allowing their female students to receive University of Toronto degrees.[citation needed]

St. Basil's Church, the college parish

As the 20th century began, professional education expanded beyond the traditional fields of theology, law and medicine. Graduate training based on the German-inspired American model of specialized course work and the completion of a research thesis was introduced.[5] With the opening of the Institute of Mediaeval Studies in 1929, St Michael's expanded further into graduate teaching and research. Ten years later, Pope Pius XII signed a papal charter creating the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.[6]

The preparatory school division of the college was reorganized in 1950 as St. Michael's College School, an independent private school, ending the college's direct governance while maintaining its affiliation. In 1952, the last lectures for women were held at Loretto and St. Joseph's Colleges, which became residential units of the college. Thereafter, all teaching was conducted coeducationally in the classrooms of St. Michael's College.[citation needed]

Teefy Hall, built in 1935

Throughout much of its history, St. Michael's benefited from a common practice whereby staff and faculty who were members of religious orders would donate their salaries back to the college. This source of income gradually disappeared as new faculty members were hired with mainly secular backgrounds, compelling the college to seek new revenue. The college's first modern fundraising attempt was launched in 1927, but was only partly successful due to the onset of the Great Depression. The Basilian Fathers of St. Michael's College was registered as a charitable organization in 1972.[7] Subsequent campaigns and land sales allowed the college to gradually increase its endowment, expand its academic programs and construct new residence buildings. The Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute became affiliated with St. Michael's College in 2001. In 2002, the college marked the sesquicentennial of its founding with an anniversary mass held in St. Basil's Church.[citation needed]

Campus and buildings[edit]

At the centre of the main college quadrangle is a sculptural representation of Saint Michael.

The oldest buildings of St. Michael's College were constructed on the original Clover Hill estate donated by John Elmsley, and were designed by noted Scottish architect William Hay. With subsequent land acquisitions in 1890, 1920, 1926 and 1928, the college expanded from Clover Hill westward to reach Queen's Park. The present grounds of St. Michael's College form the eastern end of the University of Toronto campus, with Victoria College to the north and Regis College to the south. The main quadrangle of St. Michael's College is in the northwestern section of the college grounds, with its northern side leading into Victoria College.

Queen's Park Buildings in winter

The cornerstone was laid at Clover Hill on September 16, 1855, for the college building and the college parish of St. Basil's Church, which was consecrated November 16, 1856 with a Pontifical High Mass.[8] This building is the oldest building at the University of Toronto in continuous academic use. A further addition, designed by William Irving, was constructed between 1872 and 1873 to house an auditorium, classrooms and student residence. In 1996, the original building was completely renovated by Carlos Ott Partnership Architects and renamed Odette Hall, and a modern religious art gallery donated by Fr. Daniel Donovan was installed on the two lower floors.

The Soldier's Memorial Slype connects the quadrangle with Queen's Park.

The master plan and Collegiate Gothic complex of buildings at the western side of the college nearest to Queen's Park were built in 1935 and designed by architect Arthur William Holmes in Gothic revival style: the Pontifical Institute, More House, Fisher House, Brennan Hall (1938) and Teefy Hall (1935–1936) and extension of the East Wing, (1902–1903). Brennan Hall in the north-central section of campus contains a dining hall, faculty dining room, common rooms, and guestrooms.[9] The small park between Brennan Hall and St. Basil's Church is known as Scollard Park, named for St Michael's alumnus Fr. Robert Scollard.

Fisher House and More House both began as residences for men, while classrooms and faculty offices were located in Teefy Hall to the south. The Queen's Park Building to the north was built for the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. A student-faculty centre was built in 1968 as an extension of Brennan Hall.

The Soldier's Memorial Slype connects the college quadrangle with Queen's Park, its sandstone walls etched with the names of St. Michael's College alumni who died in the World Wars and the Korean War.[10]

Examples of early post-war architecture at the college include Carr Hall, designed by Ernest Cormier and built in 1954, housing faculty and administrative offices, classrooms and an auditorium. At the northern edge of campus, Elmsley Hall was built in 1955 as a men's residence and a new residence for the Loretto College was built in 1958. The brutalist concrete building of the John M. Kelly Library was opened in 1969, at the southern portion of the college on St. Joseph Street. The former Ontario Research Council building next to the library has been redesigned with classrooms and offices as the Muzzo Family Alumni Hall.

A private tree-lined street, named Elmsley Place, runs up the center of the college's campus, connecting St Joseph Street to Brennan Hall. This street, laid out around the turn of the 20th century, is flanked by a group of five beautiful brick Victorian mansions that constituted Toronto's first subdivision. On the west side of Elmsley Place, heading south to north, stands McCorkell and Sullivan House (also known as Houses 2 and 96), and Gilson and Maritian House (also known as Houses 6 and 8). Both are student residences. On the east side of Elmsley Place, heading south to north, are Founders House, Phelan House, and Windle House. Founders House, at one point a student residence known as Bellisle House, is currently home to the office of the college's president, as well as other administrative offices. Phalen House serves as the rectory for the Basilian priests who oversee neighboring St. Basil's parish. Windle House, at the northeast corner of the street, is home to the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies.

In addition to St. Basil's, the college is home to several other sacred spaces. A small Roman Catholic chapel is located on the first floor of Elmsley Hall and is open to residents. The Ukrainian Catholic Chapel of St. Sophia, which is operated as part of the Sheptytsky Institute, is located on the lower floor of Elmsley Hall and offers daily services in the Byzantine Rite. A chapel dedicated to the Coptic tradition is located on the upper floor of Windle House. The Dante Garden sculpture park is also located on the southwest corner of the campus.


Entrance of the Kelly Library, featuring Untitled by William McElcheran
John M. Kelly Library

The University of St. Michael's College comprises the Regis St. Michael's Faculty of Theology, a Division of Continuing Education, and its namesake undergraduate division, St Michael's College. Within the University of Toronto Faculty of Arts and Science, St. Michael's College sponsors the academic programs of book and media studies, Celtic studies, Christianity and Culture, Mediaeval studies and the Concurrent Teacher Religious Education Program. In 1996, the French and German departments of the University of Toronto took up residence on the St Michael's campus, followed in 2000 by the departments of Italian and Slavic studies.

After a reorganization in 1954, degrees in theology have been through the Faculty of Theology of St. Michael's College. In 1969, the Faculty of Theology became one of the founding colleges of the Toronto School of Theology, an ecumenical federation of the theological colleges at the University of Toronto.[11] The undergraduate division of St. Michael's College joined the undergraduate divisions of six other University of Toronto colleges in 1974 to reorganize its academic departments into the University of Toronto Faculty of Arts and Science.[5] In 2005, the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies ceased to be a division of the University of St. Michael's College and was reconstituted as an affiliated institution of U.S.M.C. instead.[12]

The section of St. Joseph Street in the college is co-named Marshall McLuhan Way.
Carr Hall, built in 1954, is among the first post-war buildings at the college.

Marshall McLuhan was hired as a member of faculty at St. Michael's College in 1946, and taught English literature at the college until his death in 1980. During this time he became famous and influential for his books The Mechanical Bride (1951), The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), and Understanding Media (1964), in addition to his oft-quoted aphorisms on communications and media such as "the medium is the message".[citation needed]

The John M. Kelly Library is the main library at St. Michael's College, and is part of the University of Toronto's mass digitization partnership with the Internet Archive. Although the library building was opened in 1969, the library collection dates back to the earliest days of the college. The collection has since been developed in support of undergraduate programmes in the Faculty of Arts and Science, graduate programmes in the Faculty of Theology, and programmes of the college's continuing education division. In addition to more than 300,000 bookform volumes, the library maintains subscriptions to almost 500 journals and magazines and has the largest suite of public computers on the east side of the University of Toronto campus.[citation needed]

The Kelly Library's collection has representation mainly in the areas of humanities and social sciences, particularly in book history, media studies, philosophy, Celtic history, languages and literature, Canadian history, English literature, and Medieval history. The theological collection emphasizes patristics, early and medieval church history, Thomism, the Bible (especially Canon, Johannine literature, and the history of criticism), liturgical renewal, religious education, and Catholic missions. There are also extensive archival special collections including substantial holdings of G. K. Chesterton, John Henry Newman, early printed books, and the papers of Henri Nouwen and Sheila Watson.

College governance[edit]

Since St Michael's College's founding in 1852, the school has retained a strong connection to its Roman Catholic roots, in particular, with the Congregation of St. Basil. The college is primarily governed by three offices- the Chancellor, the President, and the Principal. The Chancellor serves as the ceremonial head of the college, and since the days of the college's founding, the office has been occupied by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Toronto. Prior to 1954, the office of the President was referred to as the Superior, and was always occupied by one of the Basilian priests from the adjacent St Basil's parish. The position morphed into the current Presidential role once St Michael's federated into the University of Toronto and re-organized in the 1950s, although several Basilians still held the office following. Today the President heads the administration of the college, and represents its interests in relation to the rest of the university and beyond. Founded in 1976, the office of the Principal heads the college's academics, and retains relations with all the various faculties and departments associated with and located at the college.

Chancellors of St Michael's College

  1. Bishop Armand-François-Marie de Charbonnel (1852–1860)
  2. Archbishop John Joseph Lynch (1860–1888)
  3. Archbishop John Walsh (1889–1898)
  4. Archbishop Denis O'Connor (1899–1908)
  5. Archbishop Fergus McEvay (1908–1911)
  6. Archbishop Neil McNeil (1912–1934)
  7. Cardinal James McGuigan (1934–1971)
  8. Archbishop Philip Pocock (1971–1978)
  9. Cardinal Gerald Emmett Carter (1978–1990)
  10. Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic (1990–2006)
  11. Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins (2006–2023)
  12. Archbishop Frank Leo (2023–present)

Superiors and presidents of St Michael's College

  1. Fr. Jean-Mathieu Soulerin, C.S.B. (1852–1865)
  2. Fr. Charles Vincent, C.S.B. (1865–1886)
  3. Fr. Daniel Cushing, C.S.B. (1886–1889)
  4. Fr. John Read Teefy, C.S.B. (1889–1904)
  5. Fr. Daniel Cushing, C.S.B. (1904–1906)
  6. Fr. Nicholas Roche, C.S.B. (1906–1910)
  7. Fr. Francis Gerald Powell, C.S.B. (1910–1911)
  8. Fr. Thomas James Hayes, C.S.B. (1911–1912)
  9. Fr. Robert McBrady, C.S.B. (1912–1915)
  10. Fr. Henry Carr, C.S.B. (1915–1925)
  11. Fr. Edmund Joseph McCorkell, C.S.B. (1925–1931)
  12. Fr. Henry Stanislaus Bellisle, C.S.B. (1931–1934)
  13. Fr. Edmund Joseph McCorkell, C.S.B. (1934–1940)
  14. Fr. Terence Patrick McLaughlin, C.S.B. (1940–1946)
  15. Fr. Louis Joseph Bondy, C.S.B. (1946–1952)
  16. Fr. Lawrence K. Shook, C.S.B. (1952–1958)
  17. Fr. John M Kelly, C.S.B. (1958–1978)
  18. Fr. Peter Swan, C.S.B. (1978–1984)
  19. Fr. James McConica, C.S.B. (1984–1990)
  20. Dr. Richard Alway (1990–2008)
  21. Sr. Anne Anderson, S.S.J. (2008–2015)
  22. Hon. David Mulroney (2015–2018)
  23. Dr. David Sylvester (2018–present)

Principals of St Michael's College

  1. Dr. Laurence Edward Lynch (1976–1981)
  2. Dr. William B. Dunphy (1981–1991)
  3. Dr. Joseph Boyle (1991–2002)
  4. Dr. Mark McGowan (2002–2011)
  5. Dr. Domenico Pietropaolo (2011–2016)
  6. Dr. Randy Boyagoda (2016–2020)
  7. Dr. Mark McGowan (2020–2023)
  8. Dr. Irene Morra (2023–present)

Residences and student life[edit]

Sorbara Hall, a student residence built in 2000
Canada Room Dining Hall, located on the second floor of Brennan Hall

Within the secular environment of the University of Toronto, the Catholic traditions of St. Michael's are still evident in its college programs, fellows' interests, and student activities.[citation needed] Thus far, the college has largely avoided stirring controversy in its move toward coeducational residences.

Alumni Hall contains classrooms, offices and a theatre.

Unlike the university's other colleges, where most residences are co-ed, the majority of St Michael's residents reside on single sex floors. However, there are two co-ed residences currently at the college (Historic House 2&96 and Upper Brennan).[13] Female students also have the option to live at the single-sex Loretto College residence; although males are permitted to visit during designated guest hours.[14][15]

The dons at St. Michael's College are graduate, senior undergraduate and professional faculty students. The college's dining hall, the Canada Room, has recently been expanded and renovated and its hours have been extended.

Within the college, The Dean's Office is responsible for residence operations, residence programming and all aspects of student life at St. Michael's College.

The residences for St. Michael's students are Elmsley Hall Residence (Elmsley First, Mallon House, McBrady House, and Soulerin House), The Queen's Park Residence (Fisher House, More House, and Teefy House), the Historic Houses (McCorkell House, Sullivan House, Gilson House, and Maritain House), Sorbara Hall Residence (Lower Level, Murphy First (unofficial name), Second Floor, Fontbonne House, and Wall House), and Upper Brennan Hall.[13]

Elmsley Hall was renovated in the summer of 2020, included painting and flooring in residence rooms, new furniture and updated common rooms on all floors.

Ice hockey at the college[edit]

St. Michael's College formerly participated in the senior ice hockey division of the Ontario Hockey Association, and won the J. Ross Robertson Cup in 1909 and 1910.[16]

The Toronto St. Michael's Majors in the Ontario Hockey League descended from the college's ice hockey team.[citation needed]

Notable people[edit]

Faculty and staff[edit]


Academia and education

Arts, literature, and media



Government and politics

Health, science, and medicine

Law and judicial figures

Religious figures

Further reading[edit]

  • Friedland, Martin L. The University of Toronto: A History. University of Toronto Press, 2002.
  • McCorkell, Edmund J. Memoirs of Rev. E.J. McCorkell, C.S.B. Basilian Press, 1975.
  • Shook, Laurence K. Catholic Post-Secondary Education in English-Speaking Canada: A History. University of Toronto Press, 1971
  • Slater, John G. Minerva's Aviary: Philosophy at Toronto. University of Toronto Press, 2005.


  1. ^ Liang, Xuelun (2018). University of Toronto Facts and Figures (PDF). Toronto: Office of Planning & Budget. p. 33.
  2. ^ "CAUBO 2006-2007 Financial Information of Universities and Colleges" (PDF). Canadian Association of University Business Officers. 2008.[dead link]
  3. ^ a b St. Michael's College from Ontario Heritage Trust Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Pound, Richard W. (2005). Fitzhenry and Whiteside Book of Canadian Facts and Dates. Fitzhenry and Whiteside.
  5. ^ a b c University from The Canadian Encyclopedia, retrieved 16 January 2015
  6. ^ "Image of the Historical Plaque outside of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies".
  7. ^ Charities Database from Canada Revenue Agency, retrieved 16 January 2015
  8. ^ Laurence K. Shook C.S.B. "The Coming of the Basilians to Assumption College Early Expansion of St. Michael's College". Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  9. ^ Arthur William Holmes from Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800-1950, retrieved 16 January 2015
  10. ^ "World Wars and Korean War memorial: St Michael's College: Memorial 35090-002 Toronto, ON". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  11. ^ University of Toronto from The Canadian Encyclopedia, retrieved 16 January 2015
  12. ^ University of St. Michael’s College Act, 2005, S.O. 2005 from ServiceOntario, 15 December 2005, retrieved January 2015
  13. ^ a b "Residence Buildings". University of St. Michael's College. Retrieved 2021-11-23.
  14. ^ "Loretto College Residence for Women". University of St. Michael's College. Retrieved 2021-11-23.
  15. ^ "Loretto College". StarRez Portal. Retrieved 2021-11-23.
  16. ^ "Senior Series". Ontario Hockey Association. 2019. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  17. ^ Daniel James Sullivan from Geni.com, retrieved 16 January 2015
  18. ^ "Charles E. Coughlin". www.ushmm.org. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  19. ^ Oliver, Greg (2017). Father Bauer and the Great Experiment: The Genesis of Canadian Olympic Hockey. Toronto, Ontario: ECW Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-1-77041-249-1.

External links[edit]

43°39′56″N 79°23′26″W / 43.6656°N 79.3905°W / 43.6656; -79.3905