Massey College, Toronto

"Massey College" redirects here. It is also the former name of Massey University in New Zealand. For the former business college chain in the United States, see Massey Business College.
The Master and Fellows of Massey College
Motto Sapere aude (Latin)
Motto in English
Have the courage to be wise
Type College of the University of Toronto
Established 1963
Master Hugh Segal
Postgraduates 130
Location Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Campus Urban
Visitor Beverley McLachlin

Massey College is a postgraduate residential college at the University of Toronto, established, built and partially endowed in 1962 by the Massey Foundation. Similar to All Souls College, Oxford, senior and junior fellows of Massey College are nominated from the university community and occasionally the wider community, and are elected by the governing Corporation of the college. The president of the University of Toronto, the dean of graduate studies and three members of the Massey Foundation are ex officio members of the corporation, headed by the master of the college. Members of corporation are elected for five years; the master is elected for seven years.

The college is well-connected with prominent figures of the national establishment, and is the sponsor and host of the annual Massey Lectures. It hosted the Man Booker International Prize of 2007.


Massey College was conceived by Vincent Massey, the 18th Governor General of Canada who attended University College as an undergraduate. Of the establishment of a new graduate college, Massey wrote, "It is of great importance that it should, in its form, reflect the life which will go on inside it and should possess certain qualities—dignity, grace, beauty, and warmth."[1] The Massey Foundation, for which Vincent Massey served as a trustee, provided the financial endowment.

Opened officially in 1963, the college was designed by Canadian architect Ron Thom, who subsequently designed the master plan for Trent University. Alan Beddoe designed the Massey College coats of arms.[2]

The founding Master of Massey College (1963–81) was the celebrated Canadian journalist and author Robertson Davies, CC. Professor J. N. Patterson Hume, CM, was the second Master (1981–88), and Professor Ann Saddlemyer, OC, the third (1988–95). The fourth Master (1995–2014) was journalist John Fraser, CM. On July 1, 2014, Hugh Segal, formerly a member of the Senate of Canada, became the 5th Master of Massey College for a 7-year term.

During the 2006–07 academic year, the College hosted the King and Queen of Sweden, held a special tribute in honour of its Founding Master, Robertson Davies, and was the host of the Man Booker International Prize in April 2007.[3]

Grounds and architecture

View from the college's quadrangle

Ron Thom's design for Massey College was inspired by the Medieval Oxbridge style college. The buildings all centre around one quad which is accessible through only two gates. The main gate is at the foot of the tower, along with the porter's lodge. The quad contains a large pond with fish and fountains as well as the St. Catherine's Bell in the clock tower attached to the porch. The bells are rung three times a day during the school term to mark meal times. Around the quad are a total of five residence houses on the east, north, and west sides. The ground floors of these houses contain some administration offices. The largest building containing the majority of the public space available to members of the fellowship, is on the south side along with the master's house. Public space at Massey College includes the large dining hall, a small private dining room, a college common room and bar, an upper library, the lower library, the "puffy couch room" (an informal common room with television and games), the Colin Friesen seminar room, a computer room, and non-resident study carrels.

Massey is also home to an ecumenical worship space, St. Catherine's Chapel, the interior of which was originally designed by stage designer Tanya Moiseiwitsch. The Chapel features an 17th-century Russian iconostasis and cross, as well as "portativ" pipe organ specially designed for the chapel by the Quebec organ builder, James Louder. The chapel was extensively redesigned in 2006 by the College architects, Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe, and rededicated in June 2007.

The college buildings are frequently studied by architecture students.[4] In 2013, which marked its 50th anniversary, Massey College received two prestigious architecture awards. The 2013 Prix du XXe siècle, awarded by The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, recognizes “the enduring excellence of nationally significant architecture, such as landmark buildings in the historical context of Canadian Architecture. The award can go to a building in Canada, designed by an architect from any country, or a building anywhere designed by a Canadian architect.” The commentary from the award’s jury reads as follows: ”Massey College is a skillful and humane interpretation of Arts and Crafts sensibilities in a modernist idiom. It is remarkable for its seamless integration of exterior and interior design, including the rich detailing of its custom furnishings and fittings. It has aged well, and is one of the University of Toronto’s most treasured modern buildings.” The 2013 Landmark Award was awarded to Massey College by the Ontario Association of Architects. “Recognizing buildings that demonstrate architecture’s beauty, endurance and lasting contribution to the community and to society”, a Landmark building “establishes a design excellence standard for future generations, enhances its environment and the public realm, recognizes and respects its surroundings; and contributes to the neighbourhood, the community or the city through its unique identity.” Fall 2013 issue of Perspectives magazine, published by OAA, was dedicated to Ron Thom and featured Massey College.

The Robertson Davies Library, also known as the lower library, houses the college's librarian as well as an office for the University of Toronto's Book History and Print Culture Program.[5] This library contains display cases for exhibitions curated from the collection by Book History students and Massey students.

The Library includes a collection of working 19th century printing presses. The Library's Bibliography Room has the largest collection of wood type in North America (some 350+ pieces). Several working hand presses are housed here. The most frequently used presses are two Albion presses, an Imperial Press, and a Washington Press. Some students work here as apprentices under the college printer. Printed keepsakes for college events are often made here.[6]


Ondaatje Hall, the main dining hall of the college used for daily meals and High Table dinners
This inscription hangs in the main stairwell of Massey College, which reads: "This House was built by the Massey Foundation in 1962. It was the intention of the Founders to bring into being a College to serve a body of graduates limited in numbers but of high promise in scholarship and qualified to make of worth the fellowship to which they belong. It is the Founders' prayer that through the fulness of its corporate life and the efforts of its members, the College will nourish learning and serve the public good."

Junior Fellows are postgraduate students "of distinguished ability"[7] at the University of Toronto, either in the study of art and sciences subjects or a professional discipline such as law or medicine. Resident Junior Fellows generally live in the college for up to three years before becoming non-resident Junior Fellows for another two years. Typically, about sixty Junior Fellows are resident and another ninety are non-resident. Each year, new prospective Junior Fellows apply to the college to be elected by the governing corporation. Junior Fellows are elected based on:

Journalism Fellows are distinguished Canadian and international journalists in mid-career who are selected annually by a special committee that includes the president of the University of Toronto, the master of Massey College, and other members appointed by them. Journalism Fellows stay at the college for one academic year from September to May. The college participates in the Canadian Journalism Fellowship Program (formerly known as the Southam Fellowship) and the Scholar-at-Risk program for international scholars caught in sectarian, political or religious intolerance. Additionally, the college hosts a writer-in-residence chosen each year by the college and the University of Toronto's department of English.

Senior Fellows are elected from members of the University of Toronto faculty and other individuals who represent the academic and professional interests of the university. Senior fellows can serve as members of the governing corporation. The college also hosts visiting academics, generally on sabbatical leave, who are given the title of Senior Residents. In addition, the former chancellor of the University of Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh, the current chancellor of University of Oxford (Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh and Lord Patten of Barnes) both serve as Distinguished Honorary Fellows. After long and meritorious service to the college, Senior Fellows may be elected as Continuing Senior Fellows, which are lifetime appointments.

As of 2012, notable Senior Fellows and Senior Residents of the college include John Polanyi, Ursula Franklin, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Margaret Atwood, Sir Christopher Ondaatje, James Orbinski, Michael Valpy, Peter H. Russell, Janice Stein, Michael Ignatieff, Adrienne Clarkson, Stephen Clarkson, Hal Jackman, John Ralston Saul, Michael Bliss, Anthony Pawson, Neil Seeman, Chantal Hébert, Justice Rosalie Abella and Bob Rae.


Massey College operates as a charity that is legally registered with the Canada Revenue Agency charities directorate as The Master and Fellows of Massey College. The governing body of Massey College is its corporation, composed of 26 Senior Fellows and chaired by the master of the college, with the president of the University of Toronto and the dean of graduate studies both serving as ex officio members. Additionally, three other ex officio members are nominated to the governing corporation by the Massey Foundation. Massey College relies on income derived from its own endowments and endowments held for its purposes by the University of Toronto, supplemented by other income from its catering facilities and summer rental programs.

The Visitor is the ceremonial and constitutional head of the college. Officers of the college, who report to the master, include the bursar, the registrar, the administrator and the librarian. Junior Fellows and Senior Fellows are elected to their positions by the corporation at one of its semi-annual meetings. The Quadrangle Society consists of individuals who are not fellows of the college, and serves as a bridge between Massey College and the non-academic community.

Massey College is one of three exclusively graduate residential colleges in Canada, along with Green College and St. John's College of the University of British Columbia; Massey College is the only one of the three that is self-governing.

During the academic year 2013/2014, the members of corporation are as follows:


Exterior of the college

Massey College sponsors the annual Massey Lectures broadcast across the country on CBC as well as the Walter Gordon Symposium on Public Policy. In conjunction with the University of Toronto's School of Graduate Studies, Massey fellows organize an annual symposium of interest to the broader community. There is an annual magazine for all its constituent members: Senior and Junior Fellows, Alumni (which include former Senior Residents like Preston Manning), and members of its Quadrangle Society (non-academic community members).

Massey Grand Rounds (MGR) [8] is composed of members of the Massey College community, including physicians, medical students and graduate students in areas related to medicine and health sciences. It convenes monthly during the school term and serves as a discussion forum for topics related to medicine, the health sciences, and issues of interest to students. Guest Mentors attend regularly. Planning for the Annual MGR Symposium is a significant element of these gatherings. The group is guided by Dr. Aubie Angel, MD, FRCPC, Senior Resident/Fellow, President of Friends of CIHR.

The college has a strong connection to the Canadian establishments and Canadian journalism. The college also strives to preserve an Oxbridge-type atmosphere by mandating the wearing of gowns at dinner, and incorporating regular High Tables complete with after-dinner snuff into its schedule; and balances this with very active outreach programs . The mandated goal of the college is to demonstrate through its corporate life the interconnectness between all learning.

Massey College also hosts its own Junior Fellow Lecture Series, sometimes called WIDEN-Massey, where graduate student members of the community are invited to talk about their research in a general way to their non-specialist peers.

Local and national arts organisations are affiliated with the college. Many college events feature singers from the Canadian Opera Company or musicians from the Talisker Players as well as many talented Junior Fellows who share their music after supper or at events.

Cultural references

Massey College was used by David Cronenberg as a location for his 1970 film Crimes of the Future.[9]


Further reading

Coordinates: 43°39′52″N 79°23′51″W / 43.66444°N 79.39750°W / 43.66444; -79.39750

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