Peter Robinson College

This area of our website is devoted to information about the former Peter Robinson College of Trent University. Sadleir House formed the main hub of the College from its formation on 25 January 1964 until it closed its doors in 2001. In the later years of the College, 25 January became known as Founders Day to celebrate the creation of the downtown colleges. For this reason, the 25th of January is still marked as one of Sadleir House's "birthdays" (the other is the 27th of February, celebrating the day students re-purchased the House). The following is the text of the press release that announced the birth of Peter Robinson and Catherine Parr Traill Colleges.

News Release from 12:00 noon, Saturday, 25 January, 1964


President T.H. B. Symons of Trent University announced today the establishment of two residential colleges in the City of Peterborough, both of them to open in September, 1964, for members of the University's first undergraduate class. The University, he said, had purchased two large homes, one at 751 George Street, the other at 300 London Street, which would become the first colleges of the University.

The first college for men will be at 751 George Street, and will be known as Peter Robinson House, in honour of the leader of the first major immigration to the district in the 1820's. The first college for women will be located at 300 London Street, and will be known as Catharine Parr Traill House, in memory of the noted early settler and literary figure, Mrs. Traill. The names, he hoped, would emphasize the University's respect for and interest in the history and traditions of Peterborough and the Trent Valley. President Symons said that the University had been fortunate to gain two houses of such distinctive character, which would bear these local names with dignity.

The two colleges will be renovated during the coming six months, in order to be open for the arrival of the University's first students in September. Peter Robinson House, with its coach house, will provide accommodation for two resident members of the faculty and about thirty men undergraduates. Catharine Parr Traill House will provide accommodation for the Dean of Women and about twenty women undergraduates. In addition to study-bedrooms for resident students, the two colleges will offer collegiate facilities for students living at home or in rooms in Peterborough. These facilities will include, in each college, a common room, a dining room, a library and reading room, a seminar room, and modest recreational facilities. Each student at the University will be encouraged to take a full part in the academic and social life of the colleges. Each college will have associated with it a number of members of the teaching staff of the University.

The President said that the colleges at Trent University would be much more comprehensive than mere dormitories where students could eat and sleep. The colleges would be the central academic units of the University, in which students will receive many of their tutorials and lectures, and around which the whole life of the University will be focussed. They will be relatively small communities within the University, in which the informal life of students in discussion, in clubs, in social and sporting activities, will all be carried on in academic surroundings, so that the essential purpose of the University as a place of learning is kept constantly in perspective. An essential aspect of the college system is the informal association it can provide between students of different subjects and between students and their teachers.

The President said that the capital cost of Peter Robinson House and Catharine Parr Traill House, including purchase, renovation and furnishing, was considerably lower than the cost of providing similar facilities in new buildings.

The President noted that the two city colleges will be permanent parts of the University. While the University expects to proceed as quickly as possible with its building programme at Nassau, there will always be a substantial need for residential accommodation and college facilities beyond what will be available in the colleges at the campus. A serious shortage of residential accommodation is a common problem for all universities in Canada. For this reason, Trent University is anxious to create suitable and attractive colleges in the City of Peterborough as well as at Nassau. The two city colleges will have the important advantage of providing collegiate centres for students living at home or in rooms in the City.

The 'great divide' among university students at Canadian universities tends to be between those who live at home and commute daily, and those who live in university residences and who can thus be full-time members of the university community. The college system at Trent University is designed to eliminate this barrier, and to engage students who live at home fully in the life of the University. Each one of them will be a member of a college, and will have the same privileges, and the use of the same facilities, as every resident student, said the President.


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