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A black and white historical photo of students in front of the main building.
Toronto Metropolitan University Through the Years

Toronto Metropolitan University’s history is rooted in innovative, career-driven education with the goal of addressing contemporary societal needs. Originally named after Ontario’s first Superintendent of Education and leading public school advocate, Egerton Ryerson, now Toronto Metropolitan University, is a postsecondary institute designed to combine technical education with academic theory for the first time.

Pictured: Students gather outside the Gould St. entrance (formerly the Ryerson Institute of Technology, 1948).

Courtesy of the University Archives

A black and white historical photo of electronics students broadcasting the first live television show in Canada for a general audience

1940s-1960s: The Early Years

The Ryerson Institute of Technology was established in 1948 in response to the need for skilled tradespeople following the Second World War. Built on the historical site of Ontario’s first teacher training college -- known as the Toronto Normal School -- approximately 250 students enrolled in the first year. The new institute offered theoretical and practical training in various skilled trades such as architecture, costume design and photography. The student newspaper, The Ryersonian (now On the Record (external link) ), was founded in 1948.

Pictured: Electronics students broadcast the first live television show in Canada for a general audience, 1949

Courtesy of the University Archives

A black and white historical photo of the construction of Kerr Hall

1960s-1980s: A Time of Growth

Following several years of institutional growth, “polytechnic” was added to the university's former title in 1963 to adequately represent its growing range of programs. Ryerson Polytechnic Institute, now Toronto Metropolitan University, gained degree-granting authority in 1971, and the campus continued to expand with the construction of Lake Devo in 1979. During this time, yearly enrollment exceeded 10,000 students, and the school launched various innovative projects including the Energy Centre and the option to take courses delivered over the radio.

Pictured: Construction of Kerr Hall, early 1960s

(C) Herb Knott Photography
Courtesy of the University Archives

A black and white historical photo of City Councillor Kyle Rae (left) and President Claude Lajeunesse (right) celebrating the university's 50th anniversary

1990s-2000s: Official University Status

Proving a commitment to build on its research capacity and academic reach, the institution gained official university status in 1993. In the following years, the university began offering graduate and doctoral degree programs and opened the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education. In 2002, Ryerson Polytechnic University shortened its title to Ryerson University, reflecting the school’s rising profile as a full-fledged university with strong academic programming.

Pictured: City councillor Kyle Rae (left) and president Claude Lajeunesse (right) celebrate our 50th anniversary, 1998

The Image Centre features a translucent, LED-operated exterior wall

2010s – present: City Building, Zone Learning and What’s Next

Toronto Metropolitan University is currently recognized as a leading institution for research and innovation, being ranked first for research income growth for the second consecutive year and third for research intensity dollars per graduate student, among comprehensive universities in Research Infosource’s Canada’s Top 50 Research Universities List 2021 (external link) . Within the past decade, the university has launched various research centres and institutes, as well as the Zone Learning option for students and business professionals interested in entrepreneurship.

Our location at the heart of downtown Toronto has motivated numerous strategic partnerships with surrounding businesses and spaces. The most significant recent development is the construction of four buildings: the Mattamy Athletic Centre (external link)  at Toronto’s historic Maple Leaf Gardens, the award-winning Student Learning Centre on Yonge Street, The Image Centre on campus and the upcoming Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex.

Pictured: The Image Centre features a translucent, LED-operated exterior wall


Find additional resources on the history of Toronto Metropolitan University:

Members of TMU Aboriginal Student Services and former Toronto Metropolitan University president Sheldon Levy pose with ceremonial Eagle Staff in May 2012.


Eagle Staff Spiritual Honour

In May 2012, Toronto Metropolitan University became the first Ontario university to be presented with the Eagle Staff, a traditional spiritual instrument that recognizes the school’s effort to cultivate a strong, holistic support system for Indigenous students. Designed specially for the university and Gdoo-maawnjidimi Mompii Indigenous Student Services, the Eagle Staff is present at significant university events such as convocation and remembrance ceremonies. 

Blue & Gold Fundraiser Ball

This student-run, semi-formal social event was established in the mid-1950s to raise university funds and celebrate the community. The Blue & Gold Ball, commonly referred to as BGB, is currently hosted at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (external link) .