By Kathy Tam
When Ryerson’s class of ’00 graduates this spring, they will not be following the exact footsteps as the last class of ’00. Of the almost 100 universities in Canada, only 25 existed in 1900. The only one in Toronto was University of Toronto, which had two faculties, arts and science.
In their yearbook, the 201 grads of U of T’s class of 1900 spoke about where they came from, their hobbies and the clubs and sports teams they participated in. The grades ranged from farmhands to the son of an MPP, and most were born in Ontario.
Upon graduation, some men spoke of enlisting in the Boer War. In October, 1899, about 3,000 students attended a parade near U of T in support of the troops who had enlisted.
In their yearbook, the 30 female grades were segregated from the 171 males. None graduated from medicine — modern languages was the most popular program. Their profiles didn’t mention any career plans.
Not so for the males in U of T’s class of 1900. All 16 male political science grades said they were planning to become lawyers, while 24 male grades said they wanted to become religious ministers. Two men said they were becoming engineers.
Of the 113 arts grads, the most popular programs were the general degree, modern languages and political science. Fifty-eight men graduated with a medical degree.
Back in those days most students paid tuition of around $70 on their own or through scholarships since government-funded financial aid didn’t exist in Canada until 1939.
It’s a much different picture from today’s student body of 38,000 at U of T, where the ratio of males to females is now 46 to 54 and tuition starts at $3,200.