Vincent Massey

1919 - 1972

Vincent Massey was a man of immense influence at the University of Toronto. His key contribution was the commissioning of Hart House. After generous donations for the construction, it was named after his grandfather, Hart Almerrin. Though the construction started in 1911, it was completed in 1919. The delay was attributed to the First World War. The theatre itself was an afterthought due to Massey’s wife Alice’s love of theatre.

Massey was a contradictory character. One such matter was that of gender equality. Initially, due to restrictions placed by Massey upon his donation, women were not allowed to become members of Hart House. It wasn’t until 1972, after his death that women were allowed membership. However, even with this restriction, the exception was the theatre. Women were allowed to shows and performances.

The man himself was the Governor General of Canada from 1952 to 1959 and one of the first Canadian diplomats to Washington, D.C. He enrolled in University College at the University of Toronto followed by Balliol College at the University of Oxford, earning his MA in history. In 1913, Massey returned to the University of Toronto and became the first Dean of Men at Victoria University. Due to Massey’s donations to UofT, Massey College was established in 1963.