History of Glendon College

Glendon College estate, located near the Don River, was first owned by Edward and Euphemia Wood. The couple can be described as avid horticulturalists, which explains why Glendon College has a botanical surrounding (Horn, 1997). In 1950, the property was given to University of Toronto and then to York University, ten years later. Glendon College was established in September 1961, and entrance began in 1966. As a liberal arts Campus, it mainly offered courses belonging to English, French, economics, philosophy, history, etc. The College initially planned to offer science and mathematics courses, and some of them have been added, but financial challenges have prevented full coverage of many of these subject offerings. As a result, a variety of courses is instead offered at York University’s main Keele Campus, which opened four years later after the opening of Glendon College (Horn, 1997).

The first principal of Glendon College, Escott Reid, wanted to create a curriculum that incorporated bilingual learning, which would allow students to be proficient in both English and French (Trepanier and Englebert, 2014) . This has been particularly significant because Reid hoped to prepare students for public services through the bilingual curriculum. This curriculum was challenging to students as it required students to complete two years of French language learning. Students also did not support the public service aim of the College but otherwise supporting the bilingual curriculum in certain conditions. This created tension within the campus between administrators and student leaders that would want to make the French language learning an optional course rather than mandatory (Trepanier and Englebert, 2014).

Years later, principal Escott Reid extinguished this much-heated debate about the unilingual and bilingual policies within the campus. As Tucker notes, the university policy on bilingualism has already been a tradition, in a sense that those who believe that mandatory French language learning is essential as not to let the quality of curriculum erode. (Trepanier and Englebert, 2014., pp.39) However, in consideration of campus enrollment and intellectual engagement, French classes should not be seen as just mandatory – the campus can accommodate French classes for it is a vital part of the college’s culture and identity. Moreover, the bilingual character of the campus is what makes it unique and this should be maximized for the benefit of scholarship and the practice of public service rather than be seen as a hindrance for Glendon constituents.

The 1960’s is an era crucial to the development of Canadian scholarship. As the world continuously change, Universities in the United States and Canada had been flourishing as it adheres to the rise of the baby boomer’s generation of the new counterculture. As radical ideas infiltrate pervasiveness to the ideals of the youth, scholars have brought with them a particular general consciousness of the New Left adding intellectualism to the United States and Canada. Glendon College is one of the institutions that carried forth ideas of equanimity in both campus life and youth culture. This quality manifested not only through the curriculum but also in the practices of Glendon students as they exalted their efforts to bridge the gap in French – English divisions. The monumental efforts of students, faculty members and administrators resulted in a ‘shift of center’ of Glendon College – officially started as a training ground for public service; Glendon became the bastion for the bilingual scholarship. Although indirect, one can surmise that Glendon College and other institutions that clamoured for unity during the time of English-Canadian divisiveness has created an impact on the current English-Canadian identity. Fostering bilingualism has been the mark of Glendon in the history of Canadian Education. Furthermore, rather than be caught in between what should be, and how it should be done, the tension that ensued in Glendon was an essential part of its culture, which is still of much relevance, up to date.


Escott Reid (Right), the first principle of Glendon College

Retrieved from: http://www.yorku.ca/histpsyc/GlendonHall.htm



Retrieved from: http://www.yorku.ca/histpsyc/GlendonHall.htm



Horn, M. (1997). Becoming Canadian: Memoirs of an invisible immigrant. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Ontario Strengthens French-Language Services at York University. (2016, March 23). Retrieved  from https://news.ontario.ca/maesd/en/2016/03/ontario-strengthens-french-language-services-at-york-university.html

This is York University 2015 President’s Report (2015). York University. Retrieved from            http://presidentsreport2015.yorku.ca/files/2016/03/Pres-AR-2015-Download.pdf.

Trepanier J, and Englebert R. 2014. The ‘Bilingual Incubator’: Student Attitudes Towards
Bilingualism at Glendon College, 1966-1971. Historical Studies in Education. 26(1).
Retrieved, November 24, 2016, http://www.historicalstudiesineducation.ca/index.php/edu_hse-rhe/article/viewFile/4336/4510

Pictures Retrieved from: http://www.yorku.ca/histpsyc/GlendonHall.htm



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