The University Club of Toronto was founded by alumni of the University of Toronto with the aim of establishing a luncheon club for university graduates.
The originators of the University Club were G.F. McFarland, H.L.Hoyles and A.C.Snively, who convened the first luncheon on October 12, 1906. They met in an upper room over what was then Davey's Hotel at the southwest corner of King and Bay Streets. The group met every Friday for luncheon. New member admissions caused the meeting places to change, first to a private room at the St. Charles restaurant at the corner of Yonge and Colborne Streets, and then to two rooms at 36 1/2 King Street East. In the meantime, another group of university graduates had been meeting for similar purposes. On April 23, 1909, the two groups amalgamated, and the Club was formally incorporated.
Later in 1909, the Club moved to Nos. 14-16 King Street East, where its own kitchen and dining room were established, and then in 1911 to new premises at 82 King Street West, where two squash racquet courts were constructed during 1913. In December 1929, the Club entered its present home at 380 University Avenue. Full dining facilities, fourteen bedrooms and three squash courts were made an integral part of the design. The clubhouse has since been declared a Heritage Building by the Province of Ontario.
The Club admitted only men as members until its Constitution was amended in June 1988 to admit women. Full privileges were finally extended to all members three years later. Membership is drawn from the professions, academe, the financial community and industry, notable among which are a great number of university presidents and members of the judiciary, including the Supreme Court of Canada.
In its over 85 years at 380 University Avenue, there have been many special dinners at the Club. One of the most memorable took place in April 1980 at which a telegram from Her Majesty the Queen was read congratulating the Governor General, the Right Honourable Roland Michener, a long-standing and admired member of the Club, on the occasion of his 80th birthday.
The Club has affiliations with more than 250 private clubs around the world as well as special dining reciprocity with the Toronto Hunt. A list of the affiliates is available on the web-site. The objects of the University Club remain "...to promote friendship between its members and to provide facilities for their pleasure and congenial association".
The clubhouse was designed by members A.S.Mathers, E.W.Haldenby and F.Hilton Wilkes, and is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of classical architecture in Canada. The front facade of the building bears a quite remarkable resemblance to Boodle's, a famous London club in St. James's Street designed in 1765 by a disciple of Robert Adam. Its unique architectural style derives from the late Georgian period.
Throughout the interior of the clubhouse, the Adam touches can be seen in details of the ceiling cornices and the architraves surrounding doors and wall openings. The skylight above the lovely circular staircase is a feature of 18th century Adam houses and brings natural light into the center of the building. The Main Lounge, panelled in Ontario white pine, is more Canadian in style than Georgian. The Library is pure Adam with its dimensioning columns and distinctive greenish-blue colour. The Main Dining Room incorporates a delicate tracery of plaster mouldings as well as columns with tapering shafts and corinthian capitals.