Long desired by the first Upper Canada Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe to combat American republicanism, when the University of Toronto was finally founded on March 25, 1827 with King George IV’s issuing of the royal charter, it came with distinct British characteristics – Simcoe himself having been Oxford-educated – having been modeled on collegiate institutions like those of Cambridge and Oxford, but because of the ecclesiastical nature of its founding and the ties it enjoyed with the British colonial elite faced immediate opposition from reformist politicians who pushed for the college to be secularized. Twenty-two years later they got their wish when King’s College was renamed as the University of Toronto.
Over the years as additional faculties and colleges were established the governing authority came to be decentralized and shared between the central administration, academic faculties, and colleges that have come to comprise its expansive grounds. Unlike most North American institutions U of T’s colleges hold substantial autonomy over admissions, scholarships, academic programs, and their financial affairs, in addition to the housing and social duties residential colleges are typically responsible for. In addition to academic and religious eduction it has delivered over the years the university has also found itself responsible for assembling a rifle corps that saw battle in 1866 along the Niagara border during the Fenian raids amidst the American Civil War, to operating the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Royal Ontario Museum, while founding Canada’s first academic publishing house.
Almost two hundred years later the University of Toronto now spans much of Toronto’s downtown in addition to the two satellites campuses opened during the 1960s that operates the third-largest North American academic library system – following Harvard’s and Yale’s – and one of the largest repositories of publicly accessible rare books and manuscripts. Ranked as the top educational institution in Canada, with the distinction of having educating two Governors General, four Prime Ministers, four foreign leaders, fourteen Justices of the Supreme Court, and has been affiliated with ten Nobel laureates, the university has become a leader in many fields of study.