Trinity Medical College

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From 1871 to 1903, until Trinity College amalgamated with the University of Toronto in 1904, Trinity
Medical College thrived as a proprietary medical school associated with Trinity College.
Trinity Medical College can trace its beginnings to the Medical Faculty at Trinity College, which existed
from 1850 to 1856. Despite its apparent success, all six founding members of the faculty resigned in 1856,
most likely due to tensions around the strict requirement that all Trinity students be members of the United
Church of England and Ireland (the Anglican Church).
The re-establishment of a medical school at Trinity was considered by committees of the Corporation of
Trinity College in 1863, 1866, and 1867 but nothing came of these efforts. In 1869-70, further discussions
led to the provisional appointment of four of the founding members of the former medical faculty as a
board of medical examiners for Trinity College (Dr James Bovell, Dr Norman Bethune, Dr William
Hallowell, and Dr Edward M. Hodder). In addition, the statute requiring declaration as a member of the
Anglican Church was amended in such a way that the requirement still stood but in practice students did
not have to make the declaration, effectively allowing non-Anglican students to register at Trinity.
In 1871 the four examiners were appointed as the first professors of the reconstituted Trinity Medical
Faculty, and Dr W.B. Geikie, eventually dean of the Medical College, was appointed as one of two new
examiners. By the end of 1871, a new building had been erected on a site close to the Toronto General
Hospital and several professors had been added to the faculty. Over the next several years, under the
diligent administration of Dr Geikie, the Trinity Medical Faculty developed a strong reputation as a provider
of quality medical education and training.
In 1877, influenced by the alleged actions of the rival Toronto School of Medicine to block Trinity students
from competing for University of Toronto honours and prizes, the Trinity Medical Faculty, with the consent
of the College, applied for and obtained from the Ontario legislature an act of incorporation as an
independent teaching body called Trinity Medical School. Incorporation gave the School the power to
affiliate with any university granting medical degrees, thus allowing its students to take examinations at
the degree-granting university of their choice. In practice, however, most Trinity medical students
continued to take their exams at Trinity. Both the newly independent Trinity Medical School and Trinity
College continued to view the medical school as the medical faculty of the College.
By 1879 a new wing was built onto the Trinity Medical School facilities, but there was a growing view on
the part of the provincial government that competing proprietary medical schools could no longer provide
a satisfactory medical education that increasingly required additional teaching facilities and newer, more
complicated, and more costly equipment. The political shift toward one strong, publicly financed medical
teaching faculty in Toronto led, in 1887, to an invitation from the minister of education for Trinity Medical
School and the Toronto School of Medicine to come together as the medical faculty of the University of
Toronto. The Toronto School of Medicine accepted the offer, but Trinity Medical School refused.
Perhaps in support of their view that independent medical education could continue to provide everything
required, the Corporation of Trinity provided some of their limited funds for improving teaching facilities
and purchasing equipment and raised the medical school faculty to college status in 1888: Trinity Medical
School became Trinity Medical College.
Throughout the 1890s the movement toward federation with the University of Toronto grew stronger. By
1900, faced with mounting deficits and falling registration, it was clear that Trinity College would work
towards federation with the University of Toronto. Dr Geikie, now dean of the Medical College, and the
Corporation of Trinity Medical College, remained strongly opposed to federation and to the amalgamation
of their college with University of Toronto’s medical faculty. In 1902, discussions between the Corporation
of Trinity Medical College and a committee of the Corporation of Trinity College resulted in an agreement
to reinstate the Medical College as the medical faculty of Trinity University and to provide funds for a
proposed new building.
However, the continued existence of an independent Trinity University and its medical school was not to
be. In April 1903 Trinity Medical College surrendered its charter to Trinity University to be held in trust,
which enabled Trinity University to act for Trinity Medical College in amalgamation discussions. In July
1903 the Corporation of Trinity College formally constituted the Corporation of Trinity Medical College as
the medical faculty of Trinity University. At the same time the Corporation stated that should federation
with the University of Toronto occur, the medical faculty of Trinity University should amalgamate with the
medical faculty at the University of Toronto.
Although the final agreement on federation was not reached until October 1904, the medical faculties
were in fact amalgamated in 1903. In June of that year the resignations of all Trinity Medical College staff
were received. The faculty members, with the exception of Dean Geikie, became members of the medical
faculty of the University of Toronto and the amalgamated faculties met for the first time in October 1903.
[Source: Spragge, George W. “Trinity Medical College,” Ontario History, 58(2), June 1966.]

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