University of Manitoba Chronological History, 1877-1924
  • On 28 February 1877  a bill introduced by Attorney-General Joseph Royal to establish a “Provincial University”is passed in the provincial legislature.  The University of Manitoba Act establishes a corporation for the government of the University consisting of a Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor with a Council. The Chancellor is to be appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council for a term of 3 years.  The Council is to consist of seven representatives from each affiliated college, three from the Convocation, and one from each of the two sections of the Board of Education.  The University of Manitoba is formed by the federation of three existing colleges; St. Boniface College which traces its roots back to the arrival of Fathers Provencher and Dumoulin in 1818; St. John’s College which traces its roots back to the mission of Reverend John West in 1820; and Manitoba College which sprang from the Presbyterian faith of the Selkirk settlers and the Reverend John Black in 1851.  The University of Manitoba Act provides a grant from the provincial government of not more than $250.00.  This amount is granted annually from 1877 to 1883 when it is increased to $500.00 and to $1,000.00 in 1886.  By 1889 it rises to $2,000.00.
  • The Most Reverend John Machray, Bishop and later Archbishop of Rupert’s Land is appointed the University of Manitoba’s first Chancellor, a position he holds until his death on March 9, 1904.  The Honorable Joseph Royal is appointed the first Vice-Chancellor of the University, a position he holds until 1889.  Royal presided over the University’s Council, as there was no chief executive officer of the University until 1913.  The first registrar of the University is Major E. W. Jarvis, a graduate of Cambridge and engineer who served with distinction with Sir Sanford Fleming in surveying the route of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
  • A provincial act provides for the five year collection of marriage license receipts to be turned over to the University and apportioned among the colleges.


  • On 27 May 1878,  the first examinations at the University of Manitoba are held with seven students, all from Manitoba College, writing them.


  • The first degree of the University is conferred on Reginald William Gunn, a student of Manitoba College, who takes honors in Natural Sciences and is awarded the Governor General’s Silver Medal.


  • The Manitoba Medical College becomes affiliated with the University of Manitoba.


  • Dr. A.K. Isbister, a native of the Red River Valley, bequests $83,000 to the University for the establishment of “a general scholarship or prize fund for the encouragement of meritorious students and scholars.” By 1917, the Isbister fund has grown to nearly $130,000 and generated an annual revenue of approximately $8,000.  As part of the bequest, Isbister also leaves the University his library of over 4,000 volumes which becomes the nucleus of the University library.  With no building or librarian to house and manage the collection the books are kept in rooms rented from the Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba, which had assembled and managed the reference library from which the Winnipeg Public Library was formed.  The University library is later housed from 1890 to 1898 in rooms rented by the University in the old McIntyre Block for $12.00 per month.


  • The University’s Board of Studies debates the issue of paying examiners.  After assurances from the Bursar that sufficient funds were available for these payments a scale of pay based on the volume of work and the difficulty of the subject area is established.  Examiners in Classics and Mathematics are paid $40.00; examiners in the Moral, Mental and Natural Sciences are paid $30.00, and examiners in Modern Languages and History are paid $20.00.  A total of $410.00 for 17 examiners is expended.  The sum increases to $705.00 the following year.
  • A reading course in law, providing for three annual examinations leading to the L.L.B. degree is arranged.


  • The federal government approves legislation granting the University up to 150,000 acres of crown land in Manitoba as an endowment.  The University establishes the Land Board and begins framing how these lands and their proceeds would be used.  This process takes until 1887 when land selection begins.  By 1889  over 42,000 acres are recommended.  The selection of lands continues until 1891.


  • Miss Jessie Holmes passes her matriculation and becomes the first women student admitted to the University of Manitoba.  She graduates in 1889.


  • Wesley College, the college of the Methodist church, becomes affiliated with the University.
  • The Honorable Joseph Dubuc succeeds the Honorable Joseph Royal as Vice-Chancellor of the University.


  • Duncan MacArthur, the University’s first Bursar since his appointment in 1884, is replaced by J.A.M. Aikins (later Sir James Aikins).


  • In June 1890,  a new statute governing preliminary or matriculation examinations is adopted and provides for examinations in the fixed subjects of Latin, Mathematics, English or French, History or Geography, and one from an optional group of subjects which included Greek, French or English, and German, French or English, and Botany, German and Physics.


  • Miss Hattie Foxton becomes the first female graduate of the Manitoba Medical College with first-class standing in the examinations for Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery.


  • A committee is appointed to consider available sites in Winnipeg for the construction of “a university building with lecture theatres and laboratories”.  A number of sites are considered and the matter is turned over to the provincial government for its consideration.  The issue is put on hold until the issues of land patents and an increase in the University’s provincial grant are resolved.


  • The University of Manitoba Act is amended to give the denominational colleges the power to confer degrees in divinity.


  • The University of Manitoba Act is amended to allow the provincial government to expend up to $60,000 for the University and a normal school (teaching college).


  • The patents for the University’s land grant are issued and the lands are transferred to the University.  The patents contain no restrictions on how the land could be used by the University.  A minority of the members of the University Council argue that the entire land grant be held in trust as an endowment for the University.
  • A fire destroys the McIntyre Block, which houses the University’s offices.  Much of the University’s scientific equipment and early university records are destroyed in the blaze.


  • The Manitoba College of Pharmacy becomes affiliated with the University of Manitoba.
  • The Synod of the Icelandic Lutheran Congregation agrees to pay the salary of a professor in the Icelandic language and an Icelandic language course is placed on the curriculum as an option for Icelandic students in the First and Second Years.


  • Lord Strathcona donates $20,000 (4 instalments of $5,000 in 1904,1905, 1906 and 1907) to the University.  This gift and the prospective increase in the University’s annual revenue results in the establishment of the Faculty of Science with chairs in physics, botany, chemistry, physiology and zoology, and mathematics at a salary of $2,500 annually.  A Chair in Bacteriology is also established on the condition that the provincial bacteriologist be appointed to the position and that the provincial government continue to pay his salary.
  • The first professors of the University of Manitoba are appointed.  They are A.H.R. Buller (Botany and Geology), Frank Allen (Physics and Minerology), M.A. Parker (Chemistry), R.R. Cochrane (Mathematics), Swale Vincent (Physiology and Biology) and Gordon Bell (Bacteriology, Pathology and Histology).


  • The University of Manitoba Students’ Union is organized and in 1907 its representative Council is recognized by the University Council.


  • The Department of Civil Engineering is established with E.E. Brydone-Jack appointed as its first Chair.
  • In an attempt to bring the general public into closer touch with the work of the University, a series of popular lectures by University professors is established.
  • On 6 June 1907, Frederick William Heubach offers the University on behalf of the Tuxedo Park Co. 150 acres of land for a university site adjacent to the southern boundary of the new city park (Assiniboine Park).
  • The Isbister Trust is consolidated with the University’s Land Board to facilitate better university management.


  • The Most Reverend S.P. Matheson, Archbishop of Rupert’s Land is appointed the second Chancellor of the University of Manitoba.


  • The Departments of Electrical Engineering, English, Political Economy and History are established.  E.P. Fetherstonhaugh, A.W. Crawford, A.B. Clark and Chester Martin are appointed as Chairs of these new departments.
  • A $12,000 temporary building is constructed north of the first University building on Broadway to accommodate the increase in the number of new departments.
  • In October 1909 the initial experiment into university extension work at the University of Manitoba is undertaken when Professor A.W. Crawford organizes a course in English literature to meet the needs of teachers and other special students.


  • The Report of the Royal Commission on the University of Manitoba is tabled but does not provide any unanimous agreement on the future of the University.  The minority report calls for a University based on traditional lines with denominational colleges controlling the University and keeping it free from government control and interference.  The majority report calls for full government responsibility and control of the University.  It also calls for the establishment of a Board of Governors appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council to manage the University, a large permanent site and president to be chosen, and the extension of teaching departments as rapidly as required by demand.


  • The first honorary degrees of the University of Manitoba are conferred on Robert Alexander Falconer, President of the University of Toronto and Daniel Hunter Macmillan, Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba.  The first degrees in Agriculture are also conferred at the University.
  • An amendment to the University of Manitoba Act provides the University Council the power to appoint a President and define his duties.  On February 15, 1912 a Committee is chosen and empowered to choose the first President of the University.  On December 12, 1912 the Committee reports that it has offered the appointment to Dr. James Alexander Maclean, President of the University of Idaho and that he has accepted the appointment.


  • Having failed to secure degree-granting powers for itself, Brandon College affiliates with McMaster University.
  • The Manitoba Agricultural College’s affiliation with the University of Manitoba is dissolved and the College is granted degree conferring powers.


  • On 1 January 1913 Dr. James Alexander Maclean becomes the first President of the University of Manitoba.  He is officially installed as President at a Special Convocation on November 20, 1913.
  • On 15 February 1913 an act of the legislature creating the Manitoba Association of Graduate Nurses gives the University of Manitoba the power to conduct examinations in nursing and thus control admission to the Association.
  • On 31 July 1913 in anticipation of the union of the Presbyterian and Methodist churches, Manitoba and Wesley Colleges amalgamate their administrations including the undertaking of a common registration, the establishment of a joint Board of Governors and the appointment of one principal to oversee both Colleges.  United College is formally opened on September 25, 1913.
  • The Departments of Architecture, Mechanical Engineering, French and German are established.  A.A. Stoughton is appointed the first Chair of Architecture.
  • With the University Council unwilling to agree to the Broadway site as the permanent site for the University and the provincial government unwilling to provide money for new university buildings on the Tuxedo site, the provincial government lets it be known that it would be willing to convey to the University some 137 acres lying between the recently transplanted Manitoba Agricultural College grounds and the Red River in St. Vital, and would proceed to erect and equip an Engineering building or buildings required by the University.  The offer is agreed to by the University in September 1913.


  • The University organizes the University Extension Popular Lecture series.  Seventy lectures are given in eighteen towns across Manitoba.  The estimated total attendance at these lectures is 9,875.


  • The Department of Pharmacy is created to take over the work of the affiliated Manitoba College of Pharmacy.  H.E. Bletcher is appointed as the first Chair of Pharmacy.
  • The Manitoba Law School is established under the joint control of the University of Manitoba and the Law Society of Manitoba.  The Manitoba Law School is formally opened on October 3, 1914.
  • The student body begins publication of a semi-monthly University journal, The Manitoban, with all the departments of the University represented on its editorial staff.
  • In the early fall, the first track meet is held with the University of North Dakota on the Winnipeg Exhibition Grounds.  The University of Manitoba is victorious and the meet is such a decided success that the universities decide to make it an annual event.
  • A university theatre night is instituted and the Dramatic Society presents Bjornson’s “The Bankrupt” at the Walker Theatre to a large and appreciative audience.


  • University Council establishes a Committee on Military Instruction and authorizes the teaching of military science and tactics.  A university corps is organized and during the term men drill and sixty-four of them take extra classes to qualify as officers.


  • The Western Universities Battalion (the 196th) of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces is formed.
  • The C.O.T.C. of the University of Manitoba contributes “A” Company and a platoon of “B” Company.  On March 1, 1915 the Canadian Officers Training Corps of the University is gazetted.  Professor E.P. Fetherstonhaugh is selected as captain and adjutant.
  • On April 23, 1915 for the first time in the history of the University, a Baccalaureate Address is given at the close of the session.  The address is delivered by Professor W.F. Osborne at the Central Congregation Church.
  • On October 1, 1915 Dr. J.B. Reynolds becomes President of the Manitoba Agricultural College.


  • The Department of Arts including Mathematics, the Department of  Architecture, the Library and the administrative offices of the University are moved into the former Law Courts Building.
  • Frank E. Nuttall, of Manchester, England is engaged as the first trained librarian for the University.
  • An Overseas Correspondence Club is established to write letters to University of Manitoba students serving in England and France during World War I in order to keep them in touch with activities at the University during their absence.


  • At a March Faculty Council meeting, the Faculty takes note of the Russian Revolution and orders the sending of a congratulatory telegram to the Provisional Government of Russia.  The telegram is answered subsequently by the Foreign Minister Milukoff.
  • The reduction in enrollment resulting from military enlistment results in a drop in students from 925 in 1914-1915 to 662 in 1916-1917.
  • At a joint meeting of five important commercial associations on July 10, 1917, resolutions are passed favoring the establishment of a Department of Commerce at the University, with a four-year course leading to a degree, and evening lectures in commercial subjects leading to a diploma or certificate.


  • Mary Kelso is appointed as the first Director of Home Economics at the Manitoba Agricultural College.
  • The Board of Governors arranges for all men with a record of overseas service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force or who have served for a year or more in Canada to receive full tuition remission in Arts and half tuition fees in Engineering, Architecture, Pharmacy and Medicine.
  • An influenza epidemic and the subsequent ban on public meetings closes the University for seven weeks from October 11 to December 2, 1918.
  • World War I ends on November 11, 1918.  A total of 1160 students and 14 faculty and staff  from the University enlisted.  123 were killed or died during the war and 142 received military honors.


  • The Manitoba Medical College, its buildings and equipment are transferred to the University.  Dr. S. Welles Prowse is appointed dean of the new Faculty of Medicine and the Rockefeller Foundation donates $500,000 to the University to establish a general endowment for the Faculty of Medicine.
  • The University experiences a huge increase in post-war enrolment with 2,013 students enrolling in various degree and special courses.  To accommodate the overcrowded conditions in University laboratories and classrooms, a number of temporary laboratories and lecture rooms are hastily constructed on the Broadway site.


  • On August 1, 1920 John Bracken is appointed President of the Manitoba Agricultural College.  He resigns in 1922 to become Premier of Manitoba.


  • The teaching faculty is reorganized, with a General University Faculty Council and individual Faculties in Arts and Science, Engineering and Medicine.  In 1921, William Tier is appointed the first Dean of Arts and Science and E.P. Fetherstonhaugh the first Dean of Engineering.


  • The University Alumni Association is created by the graduates of the University with local chapters established in various towns and cities of the province.
  • The University of Manitoba enters into an agreement with the Manitoba  Association of Architects to conduct examinations for membership into the association.
  • J.T. Thorson is appointed as the first Dean of  the Manitoba Law School.
  • The University opens its own book store in the Arts Building.  It proves to be a great convenience to students and increases the efficiency of University instruction.
  • In June, the University of Manitoba hosts the Conference of Canadian Universities which serves as an interchange for ideas on the many problems of University administration, teaching and community educational service.


  • A survey of 265 students reveals that 110 of the students are entirely dependent on themselves for their own support.  Of the remainder, 100 earned more than 50 per cent of the cost of their own maintenance, and only 17 indicated that they were entirely dependent on others for their support.


  • Tragedy befalls St. Boniface College in November as the building containing its classrooms, chapel, assembly hall and resident students’ dormitory is totally destroyed by fire.


  • The University of Manitoba Summer School is inaugurated enrolling 85 students.
  • On March 15, 1923 the University’s Extension Department launches its “University Hour” radio program, a series of lectures presented by University Faculty members over an 11 week period.  The program is broadcast by the Manitoba Government Telephone System to the Canadian prairie provinces and eight adjoining U.S. states.


  • The Department of  Architecture is transferred from the Faculty of Arts and Science to the Faculty of  Engineering which becomes the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture.
  • The Administration of the Manitoba Agricultural College is returned to the University of Manitoba.  The College becomes the Faculty of Agriculture and Home Economics with W.C. MacKillican, former Superintendent of  the Dominion Experimental Farm at Brandon being appointed as Dean.

1926-1950      1951-1974      1976-1999