If we may bow in the direction of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and imagine for the moment that the 20th century really did belong to Canada, then we might add (with only modest exaggeration) that it also belonged to the University of Toronto.
A prodigious number of the men and women who advanced our nation over the past 100 years are U of T alumni. You’ll meet just some of them in our list of 100 alumni who had an impact on the 20th century, which we have compiled to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the University of Toronto Alumni Association. The list is by no means exhaustive; indeed, so many alumni have earned the right to be included that it was a real challenge to stop at a mere 100 names. You won’t find such well-known alumni as Paul Martin or Atom Egoyan. Instead, you’ll meet some less familiar graduates, like Dr. Marion Hilliard, a pioneer in women’s medicine, or Wilbur Franks, whose work prefigured the spacesuit.
The early grads who helped shape the future of law, politics and the sciences include Augusta Stowe Gullen, the first woman to graduate from medical school in Canada, economist (later prime minister) William Lyon Mackenzie King and Frederick Banting, discoverer of insulin. Later, U of T alumni helped establish Canada as a leader among nations. When told he had won the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize, Lester B. Pearson could only mutter, “Gosh,” a testament that in the ’50s, we were still a small, self-conscious country. Yet Canada flourished in the post-war period. Just as Banting and Charles Best had established Canadians as pre-eminent doers, Pearson, along with grads such as Escott Reid, established us as great thinkers. Artists such as William Hutt and Margaret Atwood cemented our reputation as great creators.
All of our 100 grads made their mark on Canada, even the world, but first they made their mark at U of T. We think you’ll find, as U of T alumni, that you are in great company.
A U of T lab is working with actors, writers and directors on how they could harness AI and other emerging technologies to generate new ideas and – just maybe – reinvent theatre