A brief history of George Brown College

George Brown College campuses and facilities are located on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and other Indigenous peoples who have lived on this land.

In 1951 the Ontario government opened the Provincial Institute of Trades with the goal of providing training to soldiers returning from Second World War. Seventeen years later, as the province established a new college system, the Institute was expanded to encompass a broader range of programs, opening as George Brown College in 1968.

Over time, George Brown College has evolved to support the labour needs of a variety of key economic sectors, and beyond pure skills training to offer a broad range of learning opportunities, including soft skills development, extensive field education and applied research.

Since 2004, under current President Anne Sado’s leadership, George Brown has more than doubled in size, broadened its international partnerships and increased its commitment to strengthening the cultural, social and economic fabric of Toronto.

Who was George Brown?

Photo of George BrownGeorge Brown was a 19th century Scottish-born Canadian politician and newspaper publisher (he founded the Toronto Globe, precursor to The Globe and Mail) and was one of the Fathers of Confederation. An essential figure in the formation of Canada, Brown was a strong believer in public education.

In 1968, when William G. Davis, then Minister of Education, announced the membership of the Board for the new College of Applied Arts and Technology in the City of Toronto he suggested that "George Brown College" would be a suitable name. Davis believed that such a designation would perpetuate the memory of a significant nation and city builder.



  • The Department of Education creates the Provincial Institute of Trades and transfers to it, from Ryerson Institute of Technology, all the apprenticeship training in designated trades offered through the Department of Labour.


  • The Provincial Institute of Trades opens at 21 Nassau Street in the heart of Kensington Market. Charles Emery is appointed its first principal.


  • The need for space leads to the construction of two additional buildings in Kensington Market. Students made a significant contribution to the construction by using the projects as field placements.


  • The Institute starts broadening program selection including courses in lathing and structural steel, barbering, diesel mechanics, jewellery arts, watchmaking and welding.


  • The Provincial Institute of Trades launches The Provincial Institute of Trades and Occupations to meet a growing demand for vocational training.

1967 - Formation of George Brown College

  • Provincial Institute of Trades and The Provincial Institute of Trades and Occupations combines under one organization to form George Brown College of Applied Arts and Technology.
  • C.C. Lloyd is named the first principal. Over-crowding at the Kensington Market Campus results in the renovation and opening of a second campus at 555 Davenport (later renumbered 175 Kendal).


  • College Street Campus (507 College) opens and George Brown integrates 4,000 students and staff from four Adult Training Centres (ATC). College Street ATC  initially offered academic upgrading and commercial courses and the rapidly expanding ESL program was transferred as soon as renovations were completed. Over the next two years, the curriculum expanded to include programs such as Nursery Aid, Dressmaking and Alterations, Pattern Making and Design, Commercial Art, Signwriting, Offset Printing, Furniture Refinishing and Repair, Retail Merchandising and a large Truck Driver Training Program.


  • Casa Loma Campus opens (160 Kendal), offering programs in construction computer systems & networks, jewellery making and dance. The campus was originally intended to provide programs with a technology and applied arts focus.
  • Five hospital nursing schools were merged under the George Brown College umbrella: Toronto General Hospital, St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital, the Atkinson School of Nursing (at Toronto Western Hospital), and Nightingale School of Nursing.


  • St. James Campus opens at 200 King St. E with programs in business, community services, deaf & deafblind studies and work/college prep. The college also introduces nine child care centres. The main building is the former home of Christie Bakery and Hallmark Cards.


  • Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau visits the college to greet students and meet the next generation of skilled workers in Toronto.


  • Hospitality building (300 Adelaide E.) opens at St. James Campus and College Street Campus (507 College) closes.


  • Kensington Campus (21 Nassau) closes.


  • George Brown partners with Ryerson University to offer collaborative programs in areas such as Nursing and Early Childhood Education.


  • Anne Sado becomes the first female president of George Brown College.


  • The Chefs’ House restaurant opens to the public as part of a major renovation and addition to the Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts. The Chefs' House is an innovative, student-focused restaurant where George Brown Chef School and School of Hospitality and Tourism Management students learn from working in the field.


  • The college introduces its first Chancellor, Sally M. Horsfall Eaton.
  • The college opens a new campus on Toronto’s Waterfront as part of the revitalization of the East Bayfront community. The Waterfront campus is home to Health Sciences programs and features, the Health eHome Simulation Centre and The Sally Horsfall Eaton School of Nursing, named after the college’s first chancellor.


  • The Building Information Modeling (BIM) Lab opens at Casa Loma Campus. The simulation space enables students, faculty members and business partners to create digital 3D models of buildings and view them on a large display screen powered by three projectors. The facility can be used for construction-project procurement, building processes and facility management.
  • The Green Building Centre opens at Casa Loma Campus—a hub where students and industry connect to develop environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient construction practices and products.


  • The college launches the food and beverage research hub at 215 King St. E. The facility provides access to advanced learning and applied research spaces as well as much-needed opportunities for product development, including prototyping and commercialization support.
  • Gymnasium and athletic centre reopens at Casa Loma Campus after a yearlong, $5-million renovation.


  • George Brown College’s first student residence opens at Front and Cherry streets in September 2016. The building was first used to house athletes and other team officials for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games in Toronto.
  • Photo of St_ James Campus (1902)
  • 1902: St. James Campus (King St. E) was first the Christie cookie factory
  • Photo of the Kensington Market Campus building (1952)
  • 1952: First campus opens in Kensington Market
  • Photo of a watchmaker at work (1962)
  • 1962: A glimpse at the former Watchmaker Program
  • Photo of C_C_ Lloyd
  • 1967: The college's first principal, C. C. Lloyd
  • Casa Loma Campus (1973)
  • 1973: Casa Loma Campus opens
  • Photo of Pierre Trudeau (1983)
  • 1983: Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau visits the college's Kensington Market Campus
  • Photo of Anne Sado (2002)
  • 2002: Anne Sado becomes the first female President
  • Photo of Sally Horsfall Eaton (2013)
  • 2012: Sally Horsfall Eaton appointed the college's first chancellor
  • Waterfront Campus (2012)
  • 2012: Waterfront Campus opens
  • Student Residence (2016)
  • September 2016: The George student residence opens