Fonds F1016 - Trinity College Faculty of Music Collection

Identity area

Reference code



Trinity College Faculty of Music Collection


  • 1877 - 1906 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

73 cm of textual records
4 scrapbooks

Context area

Name of creator


Administrative history

The University of Trinity College was founded in Toronto in 1851, receiving its royal charter in 1852. It had degree-granting rights in arts, divinity, medicine, and law. Although no Faculty of Music had been formed, on 28 April 1853 Trinity appointed George William Strathy to be professor of music. On 1 June 1853, he was granted a Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.) and in 1858 a Doctor of Music (D.Mus.). Strathy was listed in the College’s calendar throughout the 1860s and early 1870s. However, he seems to have given only occasional lectures until the 1878-79 academic sessions when he formed a class in music theory.

In the April 1881 edition of the student magazine Rouge et Noir, students complained about the neglected state of music education at the College. Later that year there was an application from a candidate for examination in music. That same year Trinity formally created a Faculty of Music; however, its mandate was only to administer examinations.

Candidates for the B.Mus. degree had to provide evidence of five years of musical study, to compose “a song or anthem in four parts, and perform the same publicly,” and to pass an examination in Theory. The doctorate required evidence of eight years of study along with the composition and performance of a part song or anthem in six or eight parts with orchestral accompaniment.

Requirements were changed in 1883 so that B.Mus. candidates had to pass three annual examinations, in harmony, counterpoint, history of music, form in composition, and instrumentation, and to compose an exercise in at least four parts with accompaniment. No arts subjects were required. Three years after obtaining a B.Mus. a student could achieve a D.Mus. Women were allowed to take the B.Mus. examination and received a certificate of passing, but were not granted degrees until 1885. Emma Stanton Mellish, later a theory teacher at the Toronto Conservatory of Music, and Helen Emma Gregory (MacGill), later a judge, were the first female graduates of Trinity. Each received a B.Mus. in 1886.

In 1885 England's Musical Standard, with information gleaned from a United States journal, published Trinity's curriculum and examination papers. Practising musicians, deterred from pursuing music degrees in British universities which had arts prerequisites, requested that Trinity hold music examinations in England. Since Trinity's charter allowed it 'all such and like privileges as are enjoyed by the Universities of our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland,' Trinity felt entitled legally to decide in favour of simultaneous London and Toronto examinations. In the same year it rejected an application for affiliation from London's Trinity College, a music school. It appointed a former Trinity professor of mathematics,
Edward K. Kendall, to serve as acting registrar in England and subsequently named as examiners for England and Canada Edward John Hopkins, William Henry Longhurst, and Edwin Matthew Lott, all prominent English church organists on whom Trinity conferred honorary doctorates in 1886. The program began after stiffening its matriculation requirements to meet British standards. Students had to produce certificates of character, 'satisfactory evidence of attainments' in general education, and certificates showing five years of musical study and practice.

In 1889 the College's Faculty of Music became affiliated with the Toronto Conservatory of Music. This affiliation exempted conservatory students from having to take some of the faculty’s examinations. In 1890 the Faculty of Music also held examinations in New York. By the end of that year the Faculty had granted 5 honorary and 9 in-course doctorates as well as 1 honorary and 86 in-course bachelor degrees, the majority to British candidates.

The intrusion of a Canadian university into Britain occasioned the publication of increasingly numerous complaints in British music journals. In 1890, 35 prominent musicians submitted to Lord Knutsford, the colonial secretary, "memorials" condemning Trinity's practice of granting in absentia degrees in England and stating that Trinity was lowering standards by not requiring literary examinations. As well, these musicians felt that Trinity had overstepped its powers and that its activities could open the door to bogus degrees. In addition to the memorials, music journals and newspapers took up the cause against the Trinity degrees. Trinity College's provost, C.W.E. Body, hurried to England but failed to counter the criticism and as of 1 February 1891 the University of Trinity College decided to discontinue the examinations in London and New York.

In 1900 Trinity established a board of musical studies to oversee the affairs of the faculty and to name examiners. However, when Trinity became a federated college of the University of Toronto in 1904, its Faculty of Music came to an end after having granted 161 B.Mus. degrees (including 1 honorary) and 34 D.Mus. degrees (including 6 honorary). Affiliation with the Toronto Conservatory of Music was also terminated at this time.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds documents all aspects of Trinity College's program of granting in absentia music degrees in Britain from its inception in 1885 to its demise in 1891. Included in this material is correspondence with practicing musicians, with those administering the program in Britain, and with various university and government officials. There are administrative records such as calendars, degree requirements and formal examination papers. Formal and legal documents, such as the “Memorial” and responses to it, as well as communications with university chancellors show the increasing opposition to the program. Many newspaper and journal clippings document these events.
Contains series:

  1. Administrative files
  2. Scrapbooks

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access


Conditions governing reproduction

Public domain

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Uploaded finding aid

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Some records relating to the Faculty of Music are found in the Administrative records of TC, including scrapbooks in F1002, Office of the Provost: Scrapbook, TC Newspaper Cuttings, 1890, Box 20.

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description identifier


Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


  • English



Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places