The University of Toronto: A Souvenir


106 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-19-540449-1




Photos by Rudi Christl
Reviewed by Andrew E. West

Andrew E. West was a librarian at St. Michael's College, University of Toronto.


Ian Montagnes, author of the text of the work under review, also writes a regular column in the University of Toronto magazine, The Graduate. In addition to that, he is the author of An Uncommon Fellowship: The Story of Hart House (as well as of several other publications about the University), Chief of the University of Toronto Press, and, of course, a graduate of the University of Toronto.

Rudi Christl, the photographer responsible for most of the photographs in the book, also collaborated with William Kilbourn on Toronto: In Pictures and Words.

In his introduction Montagnes writes: “Walking through the University of Toronto campus, I sometimes think what fun it might be to photograph parts of its buildings and show them to friends as souvenirs...” And that is what he and Rudi Christl have done.

The “walk” begins with a series of photographs drawn mostly from the archives of the University of Toronto. These portray something of the campus buildings, students, and faculty in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. This section is supplemented by a historical survey written by Montagnes. The remaining photographs, all in colour, are excellent photographs, although one might question the selection. Among the most effective and beautiful ones are those of Sir Daniel Wilson men’s residence (p.44), Cumberland House (p.65), University College (pp.62, 81-82), and Trinity College (pp.88-89).

The least effective photographs are those that try to illustrate the life and activities of the campus. Unless one has participated in the activity or knows someone in the photograph, the photographs are often less than interesting. One of the exceptions to this occurs on pages 59-60 where a picture of students in academic gowns in the dining hall of Trinity is juxtaposed with a photograph of the cafeteria at Sidney Smith Hall (heating pipes and all). This is a striking illustration of the diversity of life on the campus.

There are unfortunately no photographs of Massey College, and the campuses at Scarborough and Erindale are included, but just barely.

It is a difficult task to try and portray in photographs anything as complex as life in the University of Toronto, and this work does not altogether succeed. This book, like many of its genre, reminds one of a hardbound copy of the National Geographic that has been limited to one subject rather than the usual four or five.


Montagnes, Ian, “The University of Toronto: A Souvenir,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 15, 2024,