Ontario’s Royal Commission on the University of Toronto, 1905-06: Political and Historical Factors that Influenced the Final Report of the Flavelle Commission

Andrew Michael Boggs


Although much has changed in the relationship between Canadian governments and publicly-assisted universities over the last century, the principles of ‘institutional autonomy’ and ‘annual public grants’ remain sacrosanct. The codification of this relationship may be found in a document written in 1906; the final report of the Royal Commission on the University of Toronto and University College, also known as the Flavelle Commission of Ontario. Appreciating the forces that acted upon the commission is important to understanding the fundamental principles of government/university interaction in Canada today. The forces that acted on the commission included a growing recognition of the United States as a comparable jurisdiction for Canadian public policy questions, the background and personal relationships of some commissioners and the political landscape of Ontario at the time. This paper examines some of these issues and the impact they had on the commission’s recommendations.


higher education; canadian history; University of Toronto history; Government of Ontario; government university relations; Ontario royal commissions; university history

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Higher Education Perspectives. ISSN: 1710-1530