Thursday, January 15, 2015

Great moments in the history of the University of Toronto

In 1853, Toronto's University College (the oldest part of the University of Toronto) invited applications for a new professorship in natural philosophy. Among the applicants were such future luminaries as John Tyndall (discoverer of the greenhouse effect) and T. H. Huxley. Charles Darwin was just one of the leading scientists of the day who wrote letters in support of Huxley's candidacy.

Huxley didn't get the job and Tyndall didn't even make the shortlist of candidates. Instead of them, the Toronto school hired William Hincks. Toronto was then in the united Province of Canada, whose Premier in 1853 was Sir Francis Hincks, William Hincks' younger brother. For more about the whole sordid affair, see p. 49 of Martin L. Friedland's The University of Toronto: a History (2nd ed.)

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