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Architecture of Space;

The Teachers' College

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Psychiatric History

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Architecture of Space; The Teachers’ College

Did you know that Humber wasn’t the first college to operate in the Etobicoke/Lakeshore community? From the 1950s to the 1970s, the Lakeshore Teachers’ College stood in what is now the A building. Boasting state of the art amenities and architecture, much of the groundwork was laid for how Ontario youth are still educated today.  

This exhibit has two parts! 

Student walks along the pathway in the courtyard with former Teachers’ College, 1992.
Photo Courtesy of Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre

Teachers’ colleges in Ontario were owned, operated, and financed by the Ministry of Education and were created in response to the need for teaching staff to manage the expanding public school system. Between 1847 and 1963, the vast majority of students preparing to teach in Ontario’s elementary schools obtained their teacher education by attending one of thirteen regional teachers’ colleges after graduating from high school.

The colleges, specializing in elementary levels, generally offered government-administrated, non-denominational, one year, co-educational programs to pupils free of charge. In 1953, the teacher training schools known as Ontario Normal Schools, were officially re-branded as Teacher’s Colleges to increase notability among teachers-in-training. 

Admissions to the colleges were largely female. After the end of World War II, veterans returning home wished to return to the working sphere, effectively pushing women out of industry positions and back towards the domestic sphere. The growing education system provided women with an opportunity to continue to assert themselves in the working world. 

During their time at teachers’ college, students undertook a mixed program of academic preparation and in-school teaching practice and also had the option of participating in an extracurricular athletic or arts program. 

Teachers' Training at Lakeshore Teachers’ College in 1969. 
Photo courtesy of the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre.

Following the implementation of a diverse educational reform to both secondary school curriculum and teacher education, a Ministerial Committee (established on the 28th of September 1964) was charged with examining and reporting on the training and teaching of elementary school teachers. Under the chair C.R. MacLeod, who gave the commission its name, the committee held public hearings and invited community input.


Some 99 individual and organizational briefs were submitted that, in the committee's words, contained “a remarkable unanimity”. This finding led to a conclusion that “inadequate academic education and insufficient maturity on the part of the student teachers” had resulted in the failure of elementary teachers to gain professional status.

Teachers Training at Lakeshore Teachers’ College in 1969. 
Photo courtesy of the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre.

The Committee wrote: “there appears [to be] a growing conviction among thoughtful parents and the public at large that most graduates from our Teachers' Colleges are too young, too immature, and [less prepared] academically than they should be”. To create a teacher who was “a scholar and an educated person” the Committee recommended the relocation of teacher education to a university setting; warmly welcomed by the Minister of Education, William Davis. 

On March 29, 1966, the Minister of Education announced to the Ontario Legislature that he was in complete agreement with the program to assimilate teacher’s colleges into the university system and suggested that it would be the policy of his department to implement the plans as quickly as possible. Minister Davis charged the Deputy Minister of Education, J.L. McCarthy, and the Director of the Teacher Education Branch, G.L.Woodruff, to begin negotiations with each individual university.

Teachers Training at Lakeshore Teachers’ College in 1969. 
Photo courtesy of the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre.

By the 1974-75 academic year, Ontario’s teachers’ colleges had all but disappeared, replaced by faculties or colleges of education in the province’s universities.


While students (and some faculty) persisted in calling them teachers’ colleges, the new university-based faculties operated under a different set of conditions and served a different cohort of students from those of their teachers' college predecessors.


Lakeshore Teachers’ College was not an exception to this transition - the College was officially closed in 1975 and the students were relocated to York University.

A pin with Lakeshore Teachers' College coat of arms in the collection of the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre.

Curator's Statement:

Architecture of Space; The Teachers’ College is an insight on the original Teachers' College building, its architectural features, and its years of institutional function. Selected from the early architectural drawings and archival photos, the exhibition invites visitors to view the building as a leading example of 20th-century modernist style in Canadian architecture. A movement away from the traditional structures of prior generations, for an educational institution to boast such architectural innovation is truly modern in both style and concept.

Ultimately, this exhibit hopes to shed light on a less explored aspect of the history of the Lakeshore Grounds and help introduce visitors to the artistry of architecture and its impact on education.

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