History of the University of Ottawa
The university was established on 26 September 1848 as the College of Bytown by the first Roman Catholic bishop of Ottawa, Joseph-Bruno Guigues. He entrusted administration to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The college was originally located in Lower Town, housed in a wooden building next to the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica. However, space quickly became an issue for administrators, triggering two moves in 1852 and a final move to Sandy Hill in 1856. The Sandy Hill property was donated byLouis-Theodore Besserer, where he offered a substantial parcel from his estate for the college. The college was renamed College of Ottawa in 1861, following the city's name change from Bytown to Ottawa. In 1866, the college received its first charter, as well as university status, making it the final institution in Canada to receive a Royal Charter from London before the British North America Act, 1867 made education a provincial responsibility. By 1872 the university had already begun to confer undergraduate degrees, with master's degrees coming in 1875 and doctoral degrees in 1888. On 5 February 1889, the university was granted a pontifical charter from Pope Leo XIII, elevating the university to a pontifical university.
The university faced a crisis when fire destroyed the main building on 2 December 1903. After the fire, the university hired New York architect A. O. Von Herbulis to design its replacement, Tabaret Hall. It was among the first Canadian structures to be completely fireproof, built of reinforced concrete. Women first enrolled in 1919.
In the fall of 1939, a Canadian Officer Training Corp was established at the university, with training beginning on in January 1940. The Canadian Officers' Training Corps, University of Ottawa Contingent, which comprised a company, headquarters and three platoons in 1939, was authorized to become a battalion in 1940. By 1941, the unit swelled to 550 men. An air force Officers' Training Corp was created in 1942 and a naval Officers' training corp in 1943. Participation in one of the three corps became mandatory for all students over 18, although they were not obliged to participate in the actual war at the end of their studies. During this time, the Royal Canadian Air Force used parts of the university's grounds for training and the university constructed barracks to house members of the Canadian Women's Army Corps. In total 1,158 students and alumni of the university enrolled the Canadian Forces during the Second World War, of which 50 died overseas.The unit was eventually disbanded during the unification of the Armed Forces in 1968.
The Ottawa architecture firm of Burgess, McLean & MacPhadyen designed the Eastern Ontario Institute of Technology (later to merge with the Ontario Vocational Centre and renamed Algonquin College), opened its new Rideau Campus on a 12-acre city owned Lees Avenue site in 1964. After being unused for a number of years, the midcentury academic complex was sold to the University of Ottawa in January 2007.
The university was reorganized on 1 July 1965 as a corporation independent from any outside body or religious organization, becoming publicly funded. As a result, the civil and pontifical charters were transferred to the newly created Saint Paul University, federated with the corporation, while the remaining civil faculties were retained by the reorganized university.
In 1974, a new policy mandated by the Government of Ontario strengthened institutional bilingualism at the university, with specific instructions to further bilingualism and biculturalism and preserve and develop French culture.
In 1989, Dr. Wilbert Keon of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute performed the country's first neonatal artificial heart transplant on an 11-day-old baby.
On 11 November 1998, during the University of Ottawa's 150th anniversary celebrations, two war memorial plaques were unveiled in the foyer of Tabaret Hall which honour 1000 graduates of the university community who took part in armed conflict, especially the list of 50 graduates who lost their lives.
The engineering building, Col By Hall, was unveiled in September 2005 as a memorial dedicated to Lieutenant-Colonel John By, Royal Engineers