Historical Background

John StrachanTrinity College is a small academic college with a long and illustrious history within the University of Toronto, the largest university in Canada.

Trinity was founded in 1851 by John Strachan, the first Anglican Bishop of Toronto. Strachan had arrived in 1799 in Upper Canada (as Ontario was called before 1867) as a teacher, and within a few years established his first school, at Cornwall. In 1827 he obtained a royal charter for the University of King's College at York (Toronto), which admitted its first students in 1843. Despite Strachan's strong opposition to the move, on January 1, 1850 King's College became the secular University of Toronto. Gravely disappointed, he turned his attention to establishing yet another university, Trinity College, which received a provincial charter in 1851.

Trinity College admitted its first students at a new building designed by Kivas Tully on Queen Street West on January 15, 1852. The first class consisted of fifteen divinity students who had begun their studies at the Cobourg Diocesan Theological Institute (also founded by Strachan), plus four students in Arts, and some students in Medicine. On July 16 of the same year Queen Victoria granted Trinity College a royal charter.

During its first fifty years the College was one of the most important degree-granting institutions in Canada, and its graduates in Arts, Divinity, Medicine, Law, and Music (the College also granted some degrees in Pharmacy and Dentistry) were substantial contributors to society in Canada, the United States, England, and other parts of the world. The first woman student was admitted in 1883, and in 1888 Trinity established St. Hilda's College for women, putting the College in the forefront of the movement for higher education for women.

In 1904 the College joined the University of Toronto, relinquishing its rights to grant degrees in any faculty other than Divinity. Its Faculty of Arts became part of what is now known as the Faculty of Arts and Science of the University of Toronto, though the College continued to have exclusive responsibility for certain College subjects until 1974.  In 1944 the Faculty of Divinity became a member of the Toronto Graduate School of Theological Studies, which brought together the various theological faculties on the University of Toronto campus; and later of its successor, the Toronto School of Theology, in 1970.

Though part of the University of Toronto, Trinity College retained its distinctive character and many independent features, including its charter, governing bodies, administration, and control over its budget, endowment, and maintenance. It now has about 1,700 undergraduate students in Arts and Science and about 140 who study at the Master's level and beyond in its Faculty of Divinity. Sports, a debating society (the Trinity College Literary Institute is the oldest university debating society in Canada), and dramatics (many well-know actors did their studies at Trinity) are among the many activities Trinity students are known for. Thirty-five of the College's students have become Rhodes Scholars.

Trinity moved to the Univerity of Toronto St. George campus in 1925, occupying new buildings that were modelled on the old ones, at a choice location close to the other colleges, libraries, and teaching departments of the University. The new St. Hilda's College opened in 1938, a large new chapel was built in 1955, and the final side of the College quadrangle was completed in 1963. The Gerald Larkin Building was finished in 1961, and the George Ignatieff Theatre in 1979. The University of Toronto's Munk Centre for International Studies at Trinity College opened in 2000; the Munk Centre is located in three beautifully renovated historic buildings, one of which houses Trinity's John W. Graham Library.

A new era began for the college in 1974 when a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the University, allowing Trinity to expand its academic program beyond its traditional courses in the humanities. New interdisciplinary programs of study were begun at the College; the first was in International Relations and it has become one of the largest in the University. The other college interdisciplinary programs are Ethics, Society and Law; and Immunology.

The Armorial Bearings of Trinity College, Toronto

A coloured armorial bearing in gold and blue with a bishop's hat, a unicorn and a stag surrounding the Trinity crest.

These arms were granted in 1988 by H.M. The Queen through the College of Arms in London, England, and are officially recorded with the Canadian Heraldic Authority at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

Their basis is the arms used by the Hon. and Rt. Rev. John Strachan (1778-1867), Founder of Trinity College, and Lord Bishop of Toronto. A translation of their heraldic message is:

I represent an Anglican (mitre) educational institution (book) in Ontario (trillium flowers), the foundation (border around shield) of John Strachan (stag arms), Bishop of Toronto (diocesan arms).

The supporters indicate the College's status as a university with a royal charter; the unicorn is taken from the royal arms of Scotland, the United Kingdom, and Canada, and the Canadian deer from the arms of Ontario. The seven flowers allude to the faculties in which Trinity originally granted degrees.

Met' Agona Stephanos

The Trinity College anthem

Hormaometh', adelphoi,
eis agona deinon,
pantelos dunamenoi,
nikan panta echthron.

Met' agona stephanos
Melos kai semeion
Airometh es to telos,
Hemin kudos phaidron.

Nimium cervisii
ebriat tirones:
Non oportet fieri
Vappas nebulones.

Sanctam Hildam canimus
in voce puellae
unde mox exibimus,
doctae atque bellae.
Comrades, let us hasten
to the fierce contest,
For we are perfectly capable
of conquering every foe.

After the contest comes the crown,
the song and the prize.
Let us win for ourselves
shining glory at the last.

Too much beer
intoxicates the freshemen.
It is not seemly,
to become good-for-nothing wretches.

In treble voice
we sing the praise of St. Hilda's
whence we shall presently go forth
learned and beautiful.