Fonds 1193 - Dale (William) Family fonds

Identity area

Reference code

UTA 1193


Dale (William) Family fonds


  • 1850-1986 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

1.42 m of textual and graphic records, and publications (14 boxes)

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

William Dale was born October 1, 1848 in Yorkshire, England and came to Canada with his father, brothers and sister in 1857. He attended St. Mary’s Grammar School and Upper Canada College before entering University College at the University of Toronto in 1867. He graduated as gold medalist in classics, history and mathematics in 1871. He returned to study for his Master of Arts degree which he received in 1871. From 1874 to 1879 he taught at various high schools in Ontario and Quebec and then retired to his farm in St. Mary’s where he divided his time between reading and farming. In 1884, Professor Maurice Hutton, Chair of Classics at the University of Toronto hired Dale as a lecturer in Latin literature and Roman History and as registrar for University College and the School of Practical Science. He was appointed Associate Professor in 1892 [1]. During the next eleven years Professor Dale also became an active member of the YMCA of University College and the Classical Association. He was also the founder and first Secretary of the University College Alumni Association. In an 1892 speech to the association, Dale “attacked the governing policies of the university and the benefits accruing to the University College as less than satisfactory…Dale complained in his speech about the exclusion of Canadians from the position of Chairs of departments, a policy which he hailed as injurious in the extreme to Canadian scholarship…” [2].

Prof. Dale is most remembered as the man dismissed from the University of Toronto by the provincial government in 1895. This action was taken after Prof. Dale published in the Glove and Mail (February 9, 1895) his criticism of the government’s decision to appoint Prof. George Wrong as head of the History department, a position Dale and other faculty felt others were more qualified. Dale charged that the appointment of Wrong had more to do with Wrong being the son-in-law of the Honorable Edward Blake (Chancellor of the University) than his academic qualifications. Outrage over Prof. Dale’s dismissal resulted in the Student Strike of 1895 led by William Lyon Mackenzie King. In response, the Ontario Government appointed a Royal Commission on the Discipline in the University of Toronto in April 1895. The final report of the Commission on April 27, 1895 absolved the University of any appearance of wrong-doing.

Following his dismissal, Dale was offered a one-year post at Queen’s University to replace Prof. Fletcher in the Classics Department. It was during the term of 1895-1896 that Dale met Florence Frederika Ryckman (b. June 29, 1876; d. Aug. 17, 1971) in his sophomore Latin class. Five years later, they would marry. From 1896-1906, Prof. Dale taught during the winter at McMaster University in Toronto and served on the Senate of the University of Toronto from 1896 until his death from a heart attack on February 16, 1921.

When not teaching, Dale devoted his time to farming in Blanshard township and his home in nearby St. Marys. It was here that he and his wife Frederika raised their four children: Margaret (b. March 9, 1905. d July 26,1972.), Douglas (b Oct 4, 1906. 1990) ,Frances (b Sept. 6, 1908. d. October 6, 2001), and Emmaline (b.Dec 30, 1912 d. 2000). Margaret Dalewon the Second Edward Blake Scholarship in Classics Proficiency awarded by the University of Toronto to honors matriculation students. Like her father, she studied the Classics at University College and graduated in 1927. Like her sister, Frances, she went on to teach high school Latin and English. She died in 1972 as a result of a car accident.


[1]: UTA P78-0021 (07). Calendar of the University of Toronto, 1893-1894, p. 68
[2]: Robert M. Wilhelm, “William Dale: Toronto’s cause célèbre” Paper read to the A.P.A. Convention, Royal York Hotel, Toronto, Dec. 30, 1984, p. 16 in B2002-0017/008

Name of creator


Biographical history

Florence Fredericka Ryckman was born June 29, 1876, the eldest daughter of Emmaline Edmond Baird and Reverend Edward Bradshaw Ryckman, minister of the Second Methodist Church in Kingston, Ontario. According to notes by Frances Dale on the newpaper report of Fredericka's birth, her name was to be Jessie Alexandra. Apparently, this “was found out when mother applied for birth certificate at age 70.” She met William Dale during her sophomore year at Queen’s University where she was a Honour English and History major student and he was lecturing in the Department of Classics following his dismissal from the University of Toronto. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1898.

After a six year courtship, she and William Dale were married on April 10, 1901 at the Wall Street Methodist Church in Brockville. She was 25 and William Dale was 53. Her father, Rev. E. B. Ryckman performed the ceremony. For the first ten years of their marriage they lived on the Dale farm near St. Marys. In 1911 they moved, with their three children to the large Second Empire style house on Ontario Street. When William Dale died in 1921, Fredericka was left alone to raise their four children, Margaret, William Douglas, Frances and Emmaline [1]. Following his death, she sold the Dale farm, and in the years to come, sent Margaret and Frances to the University of Toronto… In addition to raising her four children, Mrs. Dale was involved in the St. Mary’s United Church, the Women’s Missionary Society and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. She was a charter member of the Queen Alexandra Women’s Institute and a former members of the St. Mary’s Hospital Auxiliary. According to her obituary Queen’s University Alumni Review March-April 1972, “she was part of the first group in the area to become interested in the problems of the mentally retarded, an interest she retained throughout her life.” [2]

She lived in the family house in St. Marys until her death on August 17, 1971 at the age of 95.


[1]: Robert McKay Wilhelm, “William Dale – Delicta Maiorum: An Ancient Roman on the battlefield at the University of Toronto”. P. 10, footnote 48 ; Montreal Daily Witness, April 12, 1901. B2002-0017/008

[2]: UTA B2002-0017/008

Name of creator


Biographical history

Frederika Frances Dale was born on Sept. 6, 1908. In 1926 she attended University College at the University of Toronto and graduated with Bachelor of Arts degree on June 6, 1930. While studying the Classics she also pursued her keen interest in ‘physical training’, a pursuit that she would maintain throughout her life. At University she was on the women’s baseball and basketball teams, was president of the Baseball Club in her third year, and was a member of the Classical Association and the Players’ Guild. She also found time to be Vice-president of the Executive for her graduating year and was Head Girl of Queen’s Hall, the College residence. [1]

She then attended Ontario College of Education and after graduation in 1931 was teaching high school in Goderich, Ontario. In 1934 she began teaching at Stratford Collegiate Institute. Her keen interest in physical training led her to travel to England and Europe during the 1930’s to study physical training. After World War II she continued to travel at home and abroad, making trips to Europe in 1949, 1954, 1964 and 1973. She retired from teaching at Stratford Collegiate in 1971. She remained in the family home in St. Mary’s which her father had purchased in 1911 until 1996, when she moved to the Kingsway Nursing Home. She died on October 6, 2001 in St. Marys, Ontario.


[1]: Torontonensis, 1930, p. 31

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Fonds consists of 2 accessions:

B1975-0013 (2 boxes, 1850-1921): Journal and notes by William Dale relating to his stay in Quebec and science subjects, such as, biology, geology, and math. Included are Dale's correspondence protesting against university hiring and pay. Also, contains press clippings and incoming correspondence to William Dale's daughter, Frances Dale, who researched on her father's past as a student and his role in the student protest of 1895.

B2002-0017 (12 boxes, 1868-1986) : This accession documents the life and times of William Dale, professor of classics and Roman history, his wife and his children, primarily Margaret and Frances Dale. This family’s papers consist of three sous-fonds: the papers of Prof. William Dale, the papers of his wife, Frederika (Frieda) Ryckman Dale, and the papers of their daughter, Fredericka Frances Dale. The records in this accession provide an important historical resource on academic life at the University of Toronto as seen through the eyes of a controversial faculty member in the 19th century, and by two students in the early 20th century.

The William Dale sous-fonds documents through diaries, essays, speeches, teaching and lecture notes the academic achievements and contributions of this 19th century former professor of classics and Roman history at the University of Toronto and two other universities. William Dale’s contribution to the development of the curriculum of study in Classics has been described by Robert Wilhelm: “Together, Maurice Hutton and William Dale were responsible for transforming the miscellaneous Classical Curriculum of University College into a course of study that exhibited greater rigor and careful selection of the readings. Dale appeared to have been the guiding force and influence behind the changes in the classics curriculum; his journals showed him working out the details of the courses and the readings and making comparisons between the curriculum at Toronto and the course of study at Oxford.”

His diaries record not only his daily academic and personal activities, but also his impressions, observations and opinions on local and national events, religion, politics, books, and education. They are fairly complete from his student days prior to entering the University of Toronto, through his undergraduate and graduate years (1873), his first teaching experiences, particular at the English High School in Quebec City to 8 of his 11 years as Lecturer and Associate Professor in the Department of Classics (1884-1892). They are especially rich in documenting the operation of the University in general and the Dept. of Classics in particular. Dale wrote essays, lectures and speeches that went largely unpublished. Many of these manuscripts are contained in this sous-fonds, often heavily annotated by his daughter Frances as she organized his papers.

Complementing the William Dale sous-fonds are the papers of his wife, the former Frederika (Frieda) Ryckman whom he met while teaching at Queen’s University following his dismissal from the University of Toronto in 1895. This sous-fonds consists almost entirely of correspondence from William both before and after their marriage in 1901, and from her children and other family members following his death in 1921. The courtship letters from William Dale document not only his love and their relationship, but also his academic and farming activities. Following their marriage, the correspondence describes his activities while on trips to Toronto to teach at McMaster, the local activities in St. Marys and the surrounding farming community when he attended to their farm. The letters are also filled with his discussions of their relationship, family members and the birth of their children. Following Dale’s death in 1921, the correspondence is almost entirely from her two eldest daughters, Margaret and Frances. Records relating to the other children, William Douglas and Emmaline, are sparse, consisting mainly of a few letters from Margaret and Frances and press clippings on birth and marriage. The letters from Margaret and Frances are a rich resource of information on the day to day activities of two female university students living in Toronto in the 1920s. The daughters kept their mother regularly informed on social activities, the weather, lectures and impressions of professors, and their friends. Following this series of correspondence are files of personal documents relating more generally to the Dale and Ryckman families. Included are Mrs. Dale’s diary of her trip with her daughter Frances to Europe in 1934, her marriage certificate, educational diplomas and a file of correspondence between the Dale children during the 1920’s.

The final sous-fonds consists of the papers of Frances Dale. The first three series of diaries, correspondence and University of Toronto materials complement the sous-fonds of her parents. The diaries especially complement the correspondence in sous-fonds 2 since they provide the day to day record of her experience at the University of Toronto, her early career as a high school teacher and her enduring interest in physical education for women. The trip diaries of 1934 and 1936 are filled with her impressions of shipboard travel, the places and people she saw and met and provide a glimpse of life in pre war Europe. Unfortunately there is no diary of her trip of 1939 to Europe immediate prior to World War II. The bulk of the correspondence concerns her research on her father William Dale begun in the 1950’s and which continued into the late 1980’s. This research prompted her to undertake the typing of transcripts of her father’s unpublished essays and these will be found in Series 4. During the 1970’s several academics contacted her regarding her father’s life, especially the event of his dismissal in 1895. Series 5 contains the draft manuscript of the play by James Reaney entitled “The Dismissal” which was undertaken during the University of Toronto’s sesquicentennial celebrations. Robert Wilhelm, a former student of Frances Dale, used the Dale papers to write a number of papers on Prof. Dale, one of which was published?… Manuscripts of these works are also found in this sous-fond.

Frances Dale was also an avid amateur photographer documenting her European trips, family and friends. Individual prints and negatives, as well as a scrapbook provide a unique insight into travelling during the 1930’s. She also collected pictures of her university days, and members of her family as she conducted her research.

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Finding aid linked below is for accession B2002-0017 only.

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