The Move to St. George St.

There were several reasons for Knox College’s move to its current location on King’s College Circle. The Board of Knox College felt the building should be closer to the main portion of the University; after all it was a member of the federation which created the University. It is interesting to note that an early proposed location for the building was the Queen’s Park Circle. There was also a feeling Spadina Crescent was becoming too busy with the street cars that ran (and still run) down that street, and so a move made sense. The old Knox College building was in need of costly renovations at this time, which were taken into consideration when deciding whether to move or renovate. The library was also in need of fire proofing which would also be another major investment in the old building. Any investment into the old building was seen as a temporary solution so the decision was made to proceed with building Knox College on 59 St. George Street. The Board purchased the land and the General Assembly approved of this action in 1906.  In 1910 Knox College would buy the adjacent property, 63 St. George Street, which is now the School of Graduate studies. It was also the historical home of Sir John A. MacDonald, and also the former site of the Presbyterian Church’s National office before their move to 50 Wynford Drive in 1966.

Many contemporary figures agreed that the College was an integral part of the Church. When Principal MacLaren presented the report of Knox College to the General Assembly in 1906 asking for a new building and for the sale of the old building, this motion was unanimously passed by the General Assembly. Four years later when presenting his report to the General Assembly in 1910, Principal Gandier pointed out that Knox educated most of the Presbyterian ministers in Ontario, and asked for the building’s construction to begin before the old building was sold. The General Assembly would approve of his request. Principal Gandier saw the building as something which would last the test of time and stated  “I confess that there has been stirred within me the ambition to have erected on this site a building that will only be in its prime 100 years from today”. The majority of Presbyterians saw the importance of Knox College to the Church. The 1915 October issue of The Presbyterian Record periodical stated that “The new building far outshines the old, but the true greatness of a College as of a Church is not in its stone and mortar, not even in its intellectual outfit, but in its spirit, because it is builded for spiritual ends”. The building was viewed favorably among those involved in the College, and with the Presbyterian Church.

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