Canterbury college building

History of Canterbury College

In The Beginning ...

“Canterbury began as a venture of faith due in large measure to the farsighted vision of the late Anglican Bishop Luxton of Huron, of the late Roman Catholic Bishop Cody of London, of the desire of the Basilian Fathers to serve the growing number of students of other Christian traditions, and to the dedication and enthusiasm of a group of Essex County Anglican laymen and laywomen.”

The Rev. Canon R. S. Rayson, M.A., D.D. 
1st Principal of Canterbury College

The College was incorporated in June of 1957, appointed its first Principal, Canon Rayson, in September of 1957, and on the 4th of November, 1957, the historic affiliation agreement with Assumption University of Windsor, was signed. 

History In The Making ...

Canterbury College was incorporated in June of 1957, appointed its first Principal, Canon Rayson, in September of 1957, and on the 4th of November, 1957, the historic affiliation agreement with Assumption University of Windsor was signed making Canterbury the first Anglican College in the world to affiliate with a Roman Catholic University. The execution of the Affiliation Agreement was performed at a public ceremony in the presence of Bishop Luxton and Bishop Cody, and was widely hailed ...

Time magazine wrote:

“In a move unprecedented among Roman Catholic universities in North America, Windsor’s Catholic Assumption University last week accepted a Protestant-governed College as an integral part of the University”.

The Windsor Star wrote:
"The new Anglican Liberal Arts College will be affiliated with the Assumption University of Windsor, outgrowth of Assumption College, nurtured through many lean and difficult years by the Roman Catholic Basilian Fathers.  Just another example of the refusal of Windsor people to be bigoted over the question of religion, race, or colour”.

The College acquired its first property, 172 Patricia Road, St. Augustine of Canterbury House, from Clyde W. Curry, Sr., in March of 1958.  Teaching at the College began in September of 1958 with Canon Rayson giving 7 lectures each week.  Twenty-seven students were enrolled in a Religious Knowledge course.   In June of 1959, a second staff member, the Rev. F. Temple Kingston, Ph.D., from British Columbia, was hired to teach Philosophy.  That September, only the second year of the College, five courses were taught to a total of seventy-four students.  In these early years, the Anglican parishes of Essex Deanery were very much involved in the nurture of the College especially with regard to funding and in return the College gave lectures and presentations to the various parishes.   Scholarship Funds were established and a Building Fund was created. In 1962,  Assumption University announced plans for a Building Fund Campaign to run from 1962 to 1967 with an objective of raising $2,500,000 and encouraged Canterbury College to participate.  The College agreed, stipulating that it would like 4% of the target amount which would later bring the College $100,000 in building funds.

A New Mandate ...

In December of 1962, after much work, a secular University of Windsor was incorporated by the Ontario Legislature. In December of 1963, Canterbury College, which now had 245 students registered in twelve courses, joined with Assumption University of Windsor, Holy Redeemer College, and the new Iona College (United Church Affiliate), in an affiliation agreement with the University of Windsor.  Canterbury’s four staff members, (the Rev. Henry Hill [later Bishop], and the Rev. Peter Wilkinson, had been added by this time), were integrated with the University with tenure and Department Head eligibility.  Canterbury College would continue, retaining its building as a Chapel and social centre, having representation on the University Board of Governors, continue to give Awards and Bursaries, retain the right to appoint staff in the Department of Religious Studies, initiate courses when able and continue to serve students but with something of a shift from a teaching focus.

The new focus of Canterbury College was to maintain and develop a viable Christian presence within the rapidly secularizing University setting. This presence has allowed Canterbury College to continue to provide an environment in which a love and understanding for all cultures and nationalities is fostered, in which students are encouraged to live together and grow as a caring community in which an atmosphere conducive to learning is fostered and in which students can develop lasting friendships. 

Another historic moment occurred when on the 10th Anniversary of the College, November 4, 1967, His Grace, Geoffrey Francis Fisher, 99th Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lady Fisher were present to officially open Geoffrey Fisher Hall, named in his honour.  Geoffrey Fisher Hall, a 38 unit apartment building, was the first on-campus residence for married students in Canada.  On this occasion, Assumption conferred an honourary degree on Archbishop Lord Fisher, the first time in four hundred years that an Archbishop of Canterbury had received a degree from a Roman Catholic institution.

On the 20th Anniversary of the College in November of 1977, the Armorial Bearings of Canterbury College were unveiled.  On behalf of the Board of Directors of Canterbury College, His Lordship Theodore David Butler Ragg, Bishop of Huron, petitioned His Grace the Earl Marshall, the Duke of Norfolk, for a grant of Armorial Bearings which were granted by the College of Heralds in the spring of 1977.  The motto for Canterbury College was declared to be:
“Let Reasonableness Flourish”.

On its 25th Anniversary, Canterbury College was proud to receive a gift of a Canterbury Cross presented by the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral in England.  The cross was incorporated into the Ceremonial Mace and used for the first time during the Anniversary celebrations.  At the same time, the Canadian ambassador to Washington, Mr. Allan Gotlieb, received an Honourary Degree at a special convocation ceremony at the University of Windsor in honour of Canterbury’s Silver Jubilee.
On the 40th Anniversary, the College had expanded to occupy most of a city block, with thirteen houses, and Geoffrey Fisher Hall. 


After careful consideration and assessment of the nine existing properties and the need to provide more suitable accommodations to students at the University of Windsor, Canterbury embarked on our newest building project. With a strong business case to undertake such a project we chose to demolish the three aging houses on Patricia Road in need of significant repairs and restoration.  In addition to the major exterior renovations needed and drainage issues, many of the rooms were no longer desirable to incoming students leaving us no other alternative then to create something new.  The new building (currently known as Canterbury Commons) provides accommodations to three times as many students as the houses that were taken down, meeting the current demand at the University of Windsor and allowing Canterbury to expand the warm, caring, faith enriched environment students have come to know over the years.

Embracing our faith and sharing it with others is a key focus of the College. Under the thoughtful and dedicated leadership of our Chaplain through the Canterbury Chaplaincy Office and the Chaplaincy Network, spiritual guidance and emotional support is provided to the residents and staff at Canterbury, as well as the broader University of Windsor community.  We also offer both Licentiate and Lay Leader Christian Studies courses to members of the community wishing to enhance their knowledge or take on a more active role in a parish community.

The Diocese of Huron supports the Chaplaincy with the Chaplain also being one of the Chaplains to the University of Windsor. The College continues to teach, presently offering courses for a Doctor of Ministry Degree (in affiliation with Ashland Theological Seminary at Ashland University), certificate courses for the Anglican Community of Deacons, as well as other interested lay people, and professional courses for the community. The scholarship program at Canterbury has grown to twenty-nine awards, and from the interest on endowments, there will be over $8,600.00 available to be distributed this year in prizes and bursaries.


Since our 60th Anniversary in 2017, Canterbury continues to provide a home away from home for students from across the globe. With an understanding and appreciation of all cultures and nationalities, students are encouraged to live together and grow as a caring community in which an atmosphere conducive to learning is fostered and in which students can develop lasting friendships.