Knox College and Church Union

The year 1925 would turn out to be a turbulent one for the Presbyterian Church, and also for Knox College. The creation of the United Church of Canada would see Knox College lose its entire faculty. Many of its students left as well; in fact only 5 out of 43 remained Presbyterian. Knox College’s status as property of The Presbyterian Church in Canada was questioned during Church Union. Principal Gandier was heavily in favor of joining the United Church and had built Knox College to accommodate theological students from the future United Church. The curriculum was also aimed at training ministers for a United Church, and he was successful in training many for ministry in the United Church when Union occurred. The building however did not end up becoming property of the United Church and remained with The Presbyterian Church in Canada. Principal Gandier would end up building Emmanuel College for all the students who wished to become a United Church minister. He would complete that building in 1927. Until it was completed, the two denominations would have to share Knox College.

Ownership of Knox College

The Legal Battle

Roughly one third of The Presbyterian Church in Canada membership would not join the United Church of Canada. This raised the legal question of who would maintain possession of Knox College. Knox College would end up staying with the Presbyterian Church in Canada when Ontario Provincial Legislation granted them the Knox Building and the lands in 1925, but there were several conditions which had to be followed. The United Church was allowed to share the property for the next three years, although they would only end up staying for two. The Library was to be jointly used by the United and Presbyterian theological students, and this would remain like that until 1950 when the Ontario Legislature awarded most of the contents of the Caven Library exclusively to Knox College. Among the materials which were not given to the Presbyterian Church were archival records from the years prior to 1925. These records were to go to the United Church Archives. The United Church did return these records to the Presbyterian Church Archives in September of 2014. The United Church was also entitled the Principal’s residence also known as 63 St. George Street, although the Presbyterian Church was given the opportunity at being the first in line to purchase the building. The Presbyterian Church would end up buying this building back. The Presbyterian Church was also required to make copies of any item in Knox College the United Church might want, this included paintings and other works of art. Knox College has been with the Presbyterian Church ever since this ruling and the United Church students moved to Emmanuel College on the Queen’s Park Circle. A new faculty would replace those who left and life at Knox College would continue.

Ownership of the Caven Library


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