Department History

The history of the nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto spans more than a century and is marked by progressive transformations that continue to promote the study of the discipline.The teaching of the nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto began in 1896 with the Lillian Massey School of Domestic Science and Art, which became the Department of Household Science within the University of Toronto in 1902. Four years later, in the first of several transformations, the Faculty of Household Science was formed. In 1912 the faculty moved into the Lillian Massey Building, which still stands today at the corner of Avenue Road and Bloor St. The building is named after Lillian Massey Treble, who donated half a million dollars towards its construction. Inscribed on the interior wall of the Avenue Road entrance is the following:

This tablet is erected by the Board of Governors to commemorate the liberality of Mrs. Lillian Massey Treble who presented this building to the University of Toronto in order to promote the work of Household Science and thereby to further the education of women.”

The building housed a gymnasium and swimming pool for female students, who at the time could not use the facilities at Hart House.




Members of the Faculty of Household Science included Annie Lewisa Laird and Clara Cynthia Benson. They were among first women awarded doctorates at University of Toronto and among the first women to achieve the rank of associate professor. A strong believer in the value of household science as a “combination of science and art” Dr. Annie Laird was at the helm of the Faculty Household Science for 34 years. In her leadership role, she was referred to as the faculty director or secretary, but never given the title of dean. Today, undergraduates, who achieve academic excellence in nutritional sciences, continue to be awarded the Annie L. Laird Prize in Nutrition and Food Science.

Dr. Clara Benson developed the program of study in food chemistry as the chair of the Food Chemistry Department from 1926 until her retirement in 1945. In addition to her accomplishments in the area of food chemistry, Dr Benson was an advocate for women’s athletics at the University and became the first president of the Women’s Athletic Association in 1921. In 1959 the Benson Building, named in her honour, became the centre of women’s athletics at the University of Toronto. Many household science students also had the pleasure of being taught by Professor Edna W Park. Her half century career as a teacher was recognized by the Household Science Alumni Association in 1974 with the first Edna W Park lecture. This lecture remains, to this day, a major event in the nutritional sciences calendar at the University of Toronto.




Department of Nutritional Sciences
Faculty of Medicine
University of Toronto
FitzGerald Building,
150 College Street, Room 316
Toronto, ON, Canada
M5S 3E2
Telephone: (416) 978-2747
Fax: (416) 978-5882