Then & Now

Facts and Figures

Founded in 1827 as Kings College, the University of Toronto has evolved into Canada’s leading institution of learning, discovery and knowledge creation. We are proud to be one of the world’s top research-intensive universities, driven to invent and innovate.

St. George Campus is Toronto’s Oldest Campus, sitting in the very heart of the city. It shapes the Annex neighbourhood and Toronto itself. The landmark buildings define the landscape and tell a story that not only speaks to the students, faculty, and alumni of UofT, but to communities around the globe.

The First World War had a profound and lasting impact on U of T’s Faculty of Medicine. In turn, the Faculty’s contributions to the war helped shape Canadian medicine in the 20th century.

1914 – Britain declares war. The Faculty sends a dozen members to Europe with the first contingent in
October – Patriotic volunteers who longed to fight under the British flag

1915 – The Faculty assembles a 1,040 bed field hospital under the University of Toronto banner – ‘The No. 4 Canadian General Hospital’

1915 – The Faculty sends an additional 34 members along with a full complement of nurses, auxiliary personnel and equipment

New initiatives arose to deal with an unprecedented number of casualties.

1916 – Charles Kirk Clarke, head of psychiatry and Dean of the faculty, recognized combat stress as comparable to serious physical injury. He established more compassionate treatment of its psychologically wounded veterans than other countries.

1917 – The first modest training programs in physical and occupational therapy began on campus during the war.

1917 – The Military Hospitals Commission set up a base at Hart House – established a six-month course to train physiotherapists for the rehabilitation of injured soldiers

1918 – The Military Hospitals Commission devised a ‘ward aides’ program (run by the engineering department) to instruct volunteer women in providing vocational retraining for wounded veterans.

Hart House 1919

1919 – Hart House had produced 250 graduates of physiotherapy

At the outbreak of war, Toronto’s medical school was the largest in the British Empire with the exception of Edinburgh. Yet it offered no advanced training, which still had to be obtained abroad.  The war allowed Faculty leaders to increase the sophistication of their education.

1920 – Ward aides begin working in hospitals

1921Ward aides organized themselves into the Ontario Society for Occupational Therapy (OSOT) and received their provincial charter

1920 – 1931 – Alexander Primrose served as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine. With the support of other faculty leaders, he transformed the medical school and its teaching hospitals into strong centres for clinical care and training.

Perhaps the most important significance of the Great War was its bonding experience. Professors and students trooped to the colours and came back as comrades. This reduced the competitiveness that marked other faculties. Long after the war, Faculty members referred to themselves and each other by their military titles. The war strengthened the Faculty’s ties to Toronto hospitals, patient care, and to each other.

1926 – U of T establishes new two year diploma course for Occupational Therapy

1928 – U of T’s first graduating class of occupational therapists

1933 – Physical therapy became a sub-department of therapeutics in the Faculty of Medicine

1935 – U of T was one of just five schools of occupational therapy in all of North America to be recognized by the American Medical Association, the academic accrediting body of the time. Schools were in Boston, St Louis, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Toronto.

1945Harry Botterell and Albin Jousse of Lyndhurst Lodge established the first spinal rehabilitation centre – the field of physiotherapy expands beyond the hospital

1946 – OT program is extended to 3yrs

1950 – Occupational therapy and physical therapy were combined into one program and brought into the Faculty of Medicine as part of the Division of Rehabilitation Medicine.

OT at U of T remained the only educational program of its kind in Canada until 1950. As a result, our grads held most of the senior clinical positions and greatly influenced the development of the profession.

1967 – OT remained the only program of its kind in Ontario until this date

1974 – OT and PT programs separate again to become individual degree programs

1974 – First students graduate with a BSc (OT) degree

1993 – On July 1st The Department of Physical Therapy was created

1995 – PT and OT propose official master’s program in rehabilitation sciences

2000U of T drops undergraduate degrees in favour of entry-level master’s programs, the MScOT and MScPT.


Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre Opens September 2, 2014


Today, the University of Toronto spans across three campuses and hosts international students from 165 countries and regions.

This Mississauga Campus is home to over 14,000 students and the Scarborough Campus serves another 13,000. In total U of T satisfies the needs of 87,000 annually. (Based on student enrolment – Fall 2015)

U of T has international students from 165 countries and regions

International students make up 14% of U of T’s total annual enrolment

Physical Therapy Graduating Class of 2016
Physical Therapy Graduating Class of 2016
Physical Therapy Graduating Class of 1917 photo
Physical Therapy Graduating Class of 1917

Photo of Wendy CampbellWendy Campbell
Roving Rehab Reporter

Wendy Campbell was the 2005 OT Achievement Award recipient. Her career and contributions to the field of rehabilitation is outstanding. She was a co-founder of COTA, made an award winning documentary called Free Dive, and currently writes columns for Moods.

Wendy will be a regular contributor to the website providing interviews/ columns featuring the latest innovations / contributions in the rehabilitation field.

Wendy describes herself in this quote “there are still some graduates around from the combined course (early 50’s to early 70’s) affectionately known as POT’s and I’m one of them. We’ll be gathering with classmates next year for a celebratory lunch at Massey College- on the site of our beloved Huts – sixty years on to exchange experiences and memories.”

Watch for our own Roving Rehab Reporter on our new website!

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