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Comings and Goings

Comings and Goings: University Students in Canadian Society, 1854-1973

Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Comings and Goings
    Book Description:

    Looking at almost 120 years of Canadian history, Charles Levi examines the origins, activities, and careers of 1,876 members of the executive of the University College Literary and Athletic Society of the University of Toronto from the inception of the College until 1973. Using an intricate quantitative analysis of data from student records and genealogical sources, Levi charts the history of student activities at University College, filling a gap in the historiography of higher education in Canada. In an era when all forms of education are being scrutinized to determine if they are fulfilling their functions, Comings and Goings shows that the Canadian university has continually adapted to the needs of society as a whole and that Canadian university students have used their educational experiences in innovative ways.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7063-4
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-2)

    Each year, thousands of young Canadians graduate from university. Although the group is diverse, they all share two essential things. Each student came to university from somewhere, and each of them will go somewhere after graduation. This certainty of origin and destination has been the case for every university student since the institution was first created.

    Twenty years ago, students were virtually invisible in the history of Canadian higher education. This is no longer the case. A growing number of Canadian social and educational historians have returned the student to the story of Canadian universities, and it is now impossible...

  5. 1 A Short History of the Literary and Athletic Society
    (pp. 3-14)

    The idea of founding a society for the students of University College seems to have been present from the inception of the college as a separate entity from the University of Toronto. University College was created by act of parliament in 1853, and in that summer or fall students began a “movement for the establishment of a debating society.”¹

    By forming such a society, students at University College were fitting into a transatlantic story that first began in Scotland in the eighteenth century,² and was carried to the rest of the British Isles and the United States in the late...

  6. 2 “Professional Gentlemen,” 1854–90
    (pp. 15-30)

    The traditional view of nineteenth-century University College students portrayed them all as unhewn products of Ontario farms, sent to university to be civilized. These impressions, which were stated as late as the 1950s,¹ are without quantitative substance. The image of University College as a humble collection of farmers’ sons being trained to take roles in their local communities is not supported by my evidence, which points to quite different conclusions.

    A significant proportion of the officers of the Literary and Scientific Society (28%) were born in or near Toronto. Outside of Toronto, southwestern Ontario was the other major location of...

  7. 3 Political Animals: The University College Lit., 1891–1921
    (pp. 31-53)

    There is no accepted set of assumptions about the social origins of male Canadian university students between 1891 and 1921. There are also no comments from contemporary observers or later scholars that can be used to test the typicality of the officers of the University College Literary and Scientific Society.¹ Studies of student life in this period concentrate on what students did, not on who they were. However, it is possible to trace changes in the Lit. student body from 1891 to 1921 by comparing it to the earlier cohort.

    The birthplaces of the Lit. officers for this period differ...

  8. 4 The Silent Ones: Women, 1891–1921
    (pp. 54-70)

    Writing the history of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century university students is a strenuous task that involves dealing with a vast silence. University women, however, form an even more troublesome subset. As Jo LaPierre noted in her work on the first generation of Canadian female students, “Women slipped so silently into the classrooms of Canadian universities that they left remarkably little record of their presence ... As a result they seem to have made themselves almost invisible.”¹

    Those who have studied the early generations of women who attended university have generally not engaged in any quantitative work as to their origins.²...

  9. 5 The Administrators: The Lit., 1922–58
    (pp. 71-86)

    The officers of the Lit. in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were logical precursors of the professional gentlemen that they would in the fullness of time become. From 1922 to 1958 a new generation of students emerged as managers and businessmen who increasingly found themselves in possession of a university degree.

    After 1920 the University of Toronto also transformed, most likely unwittingly, from a national to a local educational institution. This third cohort of officers of the Literary and Athletic Society was largely from the Toronto area. Percentages for all other Ontario places of origin had fallen: southwestern Ontario...

  10. 6 Fighting for a Place: The Women’s Undergraduate Association, 1922–58
    (pp. 87-95)

    The men and women at University College had been closing the gaps between themselves since the 1920s, moving increasingly toward a common extracurricular experience. These converging paths can also be extended back to their origins, if not so much forward to their future careers. In terms of place of birth, for example, the same general patterns apply. Although more women (on the WUA) than men (on the Lit.) were born outside of the Toronto environs (50% vs. 48%), the figures for Ontario are identical, and the students’ origins elsewhere in Canada are also roughly the same (see table 6.1). There...

  11. 7 Lives In Progress: Lit. Officers, 1959–73
    (pp. 96-102)

    The sheer number of university graduates after World War II made it next to impossible for alumni record keepers to collect more than rudimentary data about them, and it therefore became easier for individual graduates to slip through the cracks. For this period I had to glean information by questionnaire and anecdote. Graduates’ suspicion about the University of Toronto’s extensive fundraising process, however, made questionnaires a less-than-productive approach. The number of entries tagged with a question mark in the database, combined with my desire to use the same rigour in confirming these data as I had for the earlier periods,...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 103-104)

    The last student covered in this book graduated from University College in 1977. The world he entered was quite different from that of the young men who founded the Literary and Scientific Society in 1854. The changes in Canadian society had been multitudinous, affecting the University of Toronto, its students, and their prospects. Students had moved from a world in which the occupational choices of university arts graduates were largely confined to the talking professions of the law, the clergy, and academia, to a society to which hundreds of possible options, including the media, accountancy, and consulting, had been added....

  13. APPENDIX A: The History of the JCR Wall
    (pp. 107-108)
  14. APPENDIX B: Study Methodology
    (pp. 109-110)
  15. Tables
    (pp. 111-130)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 131-146)
  17. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 147-160)
  18. Index
    (pp. 161-172)