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History

1942-2015


Carleton University’s roots as a non-denominational college supported in part by charitable donations from the Ottawa community make it unique among Ontario universities. Founded in 1942, Carleton was created in response to the need to help provide the young people in Ottawa, many of whom had taken on jobs to cope with the pressures of the Depression, with an opportunity to continue their formal education.

From its humble beginnings on Ottawa’s First Avenue, Carleton has grown into a dynamic research and teaching institution with a tradition of anticipating and leading change. Today, the university sits on more than 100 acres, on a site between the Rideau River and the Rideau Canal, just a short distance from downtown Ottawa.

The university provides an excellent education and experience to its more than 24,000 full- and part-time students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Its more than 875 academic staff are recognized internationally for their scholarship and cutting-edge research in more than 50 disciplines.

Carleton’s reputation is built on its strengths in the fields of journalism, public affairs, international affairs, architecture and high technology. Its students benefit from the interdisciplinary, active, hands-on approach to teaching and research practiced by its faculty members and from the numerous partnerships the university has with the federal government, other universities and private sector partners.

I learned very early the life lesson that it is people, not buildings, that make up an institution. And if we put our hearts to it we can do something worthwhile.

– Henry Marshall Tory

Historical Timeline

Carleton’s future promises to be as bright and exciting as its past. As we look ahead to Carleton’s 75th anniversary in 2017.


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The YMCA Board of Directors appointed Dr. Tory as Chair of the College Grade Education Committee. The committee was to study the possibility of establishing a non-sectarian post-secondary institution for part-time evening study in Ottawa. At that time the YMCA was located at the current site of the Hotel Roxborough.

December 1, 1941
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YMCA College Grade Education Committee became the Carleton College Committee with the adoption of the name “Carleton College” for the operations of the undergraduate program.

May 1942
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The Ottawa Association for the Advancement of Learning was established to assume the responsibility for the operation of Carleton College and later the Institute of Public Administration. At the same meeting, the first Board of Governors was elected, and Dr. Tory was appointed President and elected Chairman of the Board.

June 18, 1942
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Classes began at the High School of Commerce (now Glebe Collegiate).

September 21, 1942
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Established in the summer of 1943, the Institute of Public Administration opened its first classes on this date.

October 4, 1943
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The College offered the first day classes as a series of special intensive Matriculation courses to returning veterans and hired full-time instructors to teach these courses.

March 19, 1945
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During 1945-46, the College consolidated courses in arts, pure science, journalism, and applied science and engineering in a Faculty of Arts and Science, and reorganized the Institute of Public Administration as a Faculty of Public Administration.

1945
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Classes began at the first permanent location on 1st Avenue – formerly the Ottawa Ladies College (was used as a barracks for the Canadian Women’s Army Corps during the war).

September 16, 1946
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First degrees were presented at the convocation ceremonies on this date – three in journalism and three in public administration.

October 23, 1946
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Dr. Henry Marshall Tory dies. His assistant and Vice-President of the College, Dr. Murdoch Maxwell MacOdrum, is appointed by the Board of Governors to succeed him as President on February 18,1947.

February 6, 1947
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The College committed itself to complete Major and Honours courses, the third year of the program being offered for the first time in 1947-48, the fourth year in 1948-49, and the fifth (Honours) year in 1949-50.

1947
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The first full-time teaching appointments in the ranks of lecturer, assistant professor, associate professor, and professor became effective on this date.

September 1, 1947
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Formation of Senate. First Pass degrees in Arts, Science, and Commerce were conferred at May convocation.

1949
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The first Honours degrees in Arts, Science, and Commerce were conferred at May convocation.

1950
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The Carleton College Act was given royal assent. Carleton University was the first academic institution within the Queen’s Realms to be chartered in Her Majesty’s reign (April, 1952). The statute 1 Elizabeth II. c.18 of the Province of Ontario (amended in 1957 – see below) provided and defined the University’s powers including the power to grant degrees.

April 10, 1952
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Establishment of the School of Public Administration.

1953
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The first honorary degree of LL.D. was conferred on Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary General of the United Nations.

February 26, 1954
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Dr. M.M. MacOdrum dies and is succeeded in an acting capacity for the 1955-56 academic year by the Dean of Arts and Science, Dr. James Alexander Gibson.

March 2, 1955
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First Master’s degree awarded.

May 1955
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Sod-turning ceremony at the Rideau River campus site

October 16, 1956
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After having been appointed earlier that year, Dr. Claude Thomas Bissell was officially installed as Carleton College’s fourth president on this date.

November 13, 1956
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Establishment of the Institute of Canadian Studies.

1957
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Carleton College became Carleton University when the Carleton College Act (see above) was amended to change the name.

February 1957
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Leslie Frost, Premier of Ontario, laid the cornerstone for the H.M. Tory Building. This was the first cornerstone ceremony on the new Rideau River campus.

October 15, 1957
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Official dedication of the Maxwell MacOdrum Library. This was the first building to be completed at the new Rideau River campus.

June 20, 1958
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A. D. Dunton appointed President of Carleton University. He was subsequently installed as President on the 7th of November, 1958.

July 4, 1958
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Leslie M. Frost, Premier of Ontario, officially opened the Rideau River campus of Carleton University. The campus at that time consisted of the Henry Marshall Tory Building (Science), the Maxwell MacOdrum Library and the Norman Paterson Hall (Arts). Classes actually began at the new campus in September 1959.

February 12, 1960
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Frank Patten, member of the original YMCA committee which established Carleton College, received an honorary degree.

May 26, 1961
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The first Doctor of Philosophy degree (Mathematics) was conferred on Peter Ivan Fellegi, now a member of the Board of Governors. The first degrees in engineering were awarded.

October 13, 1961
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Students are accommodated in residences for the first time.

September 1962
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The formal opening of H.S. Southam Hall (including Alumni Theatre), University Commons, Lanark House, Renfrew House, the University Union (including the Gymnasium and recreational facilities), the extension to Norman Paterson Hall (Arts) and the sixth level of the Henry Marshall Tory Building (Science).

February 15, 1963
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Academic units are reorganized into Faculties of Arts, Engineering, Science, and graduate studies. Committee on Soviet and East European Studies is established.

September 1963
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The formal opening of the C J. Mackenzie Building for Engineering. Classes were first held there in September 1964.

March 11, 1965
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Opening of Grenville-Russell House – Student Residence.

September 1965
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Formal dedication of the E.W.R. Steacie Building (Chemistry). Classes began in the new building in September 1965.

October 22, 1965
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Classes began in the Herzberg Laboratories. Establishment of the School of International Affairs, School of Commerce, and Comparative Literature Committee.

September 1966
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Integration of St. Patrick’s College as a division of the Faculty of Arts, and of the School of Social Work on the St. Patrick’s campus.

September 1967
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Official opening of the Loeb Building.

December 1, 1967
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Establishment of the School of Architecture. New University Government established with student representatives at all levels of the University system from departments to Board of Governors. Inauguration of the academic exchange agreement between Carleton and the University of Leningrad.

September 1968
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Administration Building and the Environmental Laboratories (ELBA) opened.

September 1969
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Agreement completed between Carleton and the University of Ottawa to accept “visiting” students at the graduate level. Biochemistry degree program initiated. The Institute of Soviet and East European Studies is established.

September 1970
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Official opening of the Arts Tower

September 21, 1970
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Official opening of the University Centre (called the “Unicentre”)

September 25, 1970
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School of Social Work moves to Rideau River Campus. Exchange program with the University de Savoie, Chambery, France, is inaugurated.

September 1972
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Official Opening of the Herzberg Laboratories

February 1972
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Installation of Carleton’s fifth President, Dr. Micheal Oliver.

November 3, 1972
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First degrees in Architecture are awarded. School of Industrial Design is established. New physical recreation centre is opened.

1973
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Official opening of the Architecture Building.

January 26, 1973
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Official opening of St. Patrick’s Building (St. Patrick’s College moves to Rideau

October 14, 1973
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Faculty of Graduate Studies renamed Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. School of International Affairs renamed The Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. St. Patrick’s College held first convocation ceremony at Rideau River campus. Exchange agreement with the International Cultural Institute, Budapest, Hungary, inaugurated. New Master’s programs in journalism, anthropology, and religion approved. Program leading to Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language established.

1974
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First students enrol in joint Master of Public Administration program offered in conjunction with the University of Ottawa. CKCU-Radio Carleton has FM license approved. New undergraduate programs in Canadian studies and computing science are introduced.

1975
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Creation of the Paterson Centre for International Programs to co-ordinate world-wide exchange programs. Division of the Faculty of Arts into the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences. First Master of Journalism degrees awarded.

1976
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Criminology and Corrections concentration (later renamed Criminology and Criminal Justice) begun at St. Patrick’s College.

April 1977
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School of Continuing Education established. Credit courses offered on cable television. Institute of Biochemistry established.

September 1978
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St. Patrick’s College ceased to operate as an academic unit of the University. Department of Film Studies established. Ph.D. program in English and French Canadian literature begun. Dr. James Downey is appointed President Pro Tempore for the period January 1 to May 15 until a replacement for Dr. Oliver is found.

1979
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Dr. William E. Beckel is appointed Carleton’s sixth President. He was installed on November 3,1979.

July 1, 1979
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Undergraduate School of Computer Science established.

1980
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Establishment of the Ottawa-Carleton Institute for Research and Graduate Studies in Chemistry and a joint Ph.D. program in Economics, both joint programs with the University of Ottawa. Establishment of the Computer Systems Engineering program in the Faculty of Engineering.

1981
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Establishment of the Ottawa-Carleton Centre for Geoscience Studies leading to a Master’s and Ph.D. in Geology and a joint Master’s program in computer science in conjunction with the University of Ottawa. Carleton celebrates its 40th anniversary.

1982
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Establishment of four joint graduate programs with the University of Ottawa: the Ottawa-Carleton Centre for Graduate Studies and Research in Biology; the Ottawa-Carleton Centre for Graduate Studies and Research in Physics; the Ottawa-Carleton Institute for Research and Graduate Studies in Electrical Engineering; and the Ottawa-Carleton Graduate Specialization in Neuroscience.

1983
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Two new combined Honours programs in the B.Sc. were introduced: Biology and Biotechnology, and Biochemistry and Biotechnology. Joint graduate programs with the University of Ottawa were established in the areas of civil engineering, mechanical and aeronautical engineering, and mathematics and statistics.

1984
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Master of Management Studies program established in the School of Business. The School of Public Administration offers a concentration in development administration in conjunction with the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.

1985
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Official opening of the addition to the Herzberg Laboratories (School of Computer Science).

October 28, 1985
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The Paterson Centre for International Programs is renamed Carleton International with the broader mandate to administer Carleton’s international activities in teaching and research.

1986
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Official opening of the Social Sciences Research Building.

September 22, 1986
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The Institute of Women’s Studies is established. The undergraduate exchange agreement with the University of Ottawa undergoes major revisions and is significantly expanded.

1987
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A. Davidson Dunton, Carleton’s fourth president and director of the Institute of Canadian Studies, dies. The Arts Tower is renamed the Dunton Tower in his honour.

February 7, 1987
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Canada’s first Bachelor of Engineering program in aerospace engineering is established. Bell Northern Research Ltd. and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council provide funding for an Industrial Research Chair in computer-aided engineering within the department of electronics. The departments of electronics and systems and computer engineering are major partners in the Telecommunications Research Institute of Ontario (TRIO), one of seven “centres of excellence” chosen by the provincial government for scientific research. The Faculty of Science introduces co-operative education programs in computer science and biochemistry/biotechnology.

1988
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Department of mechanical and aeronautical engineering renamed department of mechanical and aerospace engineering. Institute of Political Economy is established. The Canadian Centre for Trade Policy and Law, a joint initiative of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and the University of Ottawa, is established. Carleton and Apple Canada Inc. form a partnership in the Apple Research Partnership program. Addition to Southam Hall completed

1989
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Dr. Robin H. Farquhar is appointed Carleton’s seventh President. He is subsequently installed on November 19,1989.

August 1, 1989
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New Ph.D. program in computer science, offered jointly with the University of Ottawa, is established. Introduction of Bachelor of Social Work degree program. The Paul Menton Centre for Persons with Disabilities is opened. The Centre for Research in Particle Physics is established to carry on the work of the National Research Council’s large-scale physics projects.

1990
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Opening of the Life Sciences Research Building.

March 1990
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The University’s $30 million Challenge Fund campaign surpasses its goal, and a $1.5 million “enhancement” campaign is launched. Introduction of new M.A. programs in political economy, communication, legal studies, and applied language studies. The Faculty of Arts establishes two new schools: one for Studies in Art and Culture and the other for Comparative Literary Studies. The Centre for Analytical and Environmental Chemistry is formed. The Chair for Management in Technological Change is announced. International exchange agreements are formalized between Carleton, Laval, York, and British Columbia, and four Swedish Universities.

1991
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Opening of Stormont House and Dundas House – Student Residence.

January 1991
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Opening of the addition to the MacOdrum Library

February 11, 1991
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Carleton celebrates its 50th anniversary.

1992
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Opening of Art Gallery in St. Patrick’s Building.

September 23, 1992
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Opening of the Minto Centre for Applied Studies in Engineering

October 2, 1992