A new memorandum of understanding between the University of St. Michael’s College, the University of Toronto, and the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (PIMS) heralds a renewed spirit of collaboration, says Dr. David Sylvester, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St. Michael’s College.

“This is much more than a piece of paper,” says Sylvester, who adds that having St. Mike’s Mediaeval Studies program, PIMS and U of T’s Centre for Medieval Studies all located in one city makes Toronto North America’s centre for research and study in the field. “[The MoU] reflects a new commitment from St. Mike’s to work with PIMS and U of T, and it opens doors to exciting possibilities for new cooperation.”

Dr. John Magee, who signed the MoU on behalf of U of T’s Centre for Medieval Studies (CMS), agrees.

“This is a starting point for future building and development,” explains Magee, who is a member of U of T’s Classics Department and the Collaborative Program in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, as well as a Senior Fellow at PIMS. He assumes the role of Director of the Centre for Medieval Studies this coming July.

The five-year memorandum formally expresses a commitment on the part of the three signatories to work together to further engage with the mediaeval period through research, teaching, and publication. While each party remains distinct, the agreement suggests possibilities such as joint academic seminars or colloquia, as well as scholarly collaboration. It also notes that the PIMS library collection will continue to be housed in the John M. Kelly Library at St. Mike’s.

As a repository library with rare, non-circulating works, the PIMS library draws students from around the world to study everything from paleography to Latin, notes Sylvester.

Annual meetings will see the three parties discuss areas of mutual interest, opportunities for further engagement, and operational issues.

The agreement comes as the undergraduate Mediaeval Studies program, delivered at St. Mike’s as a sponsored program from Faculty of Arts and Sciences,  is flourishing, and Sylvester notes that PIMs has “welcomed our undergrads with open arms,” inviting them to be part of the PIMS community.

Other natural “cross fertilization” sees PIMS’ Mellon Fellows teaching undergraduate students at St. Mike’s, for example, while PIMS has offered teaching and office space to St. Mike’s professors and students, adds Sylvester.

“This document summarizes the historic tripartite relationship between PIMS, St. Michael’s, and U of T and reflects people’s intentions going forward,” says PIMS Praeses (president) Dr. Richard Alway. “It builds on relationships in new ways and can be developed further.”

The first humanities research institute in Canada, PIMS was founded under the auspices of St. Michael’s and the Basilian Fathers in 1929, and was decreed a pontifical institute in 1939, notes Alway. From 1958 to 2005, it was a graduate school and research centre within St. Michael’s, but governance changes at the university saw PIMS establishing independent status to maintain its standing as a pontifical institute.

In addition to its world-class library, which Alway labels “a jewel, a centrepiece of our research,” and the post-doctoral Mellon Fellowships, PIMS also hosts a vibrant publishing program which produces about ten scholarly works a year, he notes, all added draws for mediaeval scholars.

“These are exciting times. St. Michael’s remains committed to undergraduate mediaeval studies, and students are attracted to what our professors and our supportive community can offer,” says Sylvester. “Our continuing goal is to build even more synergy with these important partners, precisely at this time when students and society are rediscovering the importance and the beauty of studying the humanities.”

A photo of Fr. Édouard Jeauneau

The Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (PIMS) is mourning the death of long-time faculty member Fr. Édouard Jeauneau, who died at the age of 95 on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019 in Chartres, France.

Fr. Jeauneau was a Professor of Medieval Philosophy at PIMS and the Centre for Mediaeval Studies (CMS) at the University of Toronto from the 1975 through to 1995. He was named Institute Professor at PIMS in 1990 and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2002.

His involvement in the medieval community in Toronto began following a formal invitation in 1974 to join the PIMS Faculty from Rev. E.A. Synan, Praeses, and Rev. James McConica, CSB, Chairman of the Search Committee.

Until 2015, he spent about eight months each year working on his many projects here in Toronto, most notably the five-volume Periphyseon of Johannes Scottus Eriugena (Turnhout: Brepols).

Fr. Jeauneau was consistently awarded substantial Social Sciences and Humanities Research (SSHRC) grants, and hired a long string of Centre students to work for him, paying them generously. He also trained many of these students in reading the particular handwriting in the manuscripts and in editing the texts.

Among the honours bestowed on him over the years was the position of Directeur de Recherche Honoraire au CNRS in Paris, France’s National Centre for Scientific Research, and an appointment as a fellow of the British Academy.

A funeral Mass will be held Monday, December 16 in his small home town of Coudray-en Perche, about 60 km from Chartres.
His presence will be missed by all who knew him.

By Martyn Wendell Jones


Some of the McLuhan artifacts on display for Doors Open.

Visitors to 96 St. Joseph Street first heard a strangely familiar voice. Entering the historic house, they observed a seated figure in a grey suit holding a microphone in a stairwell at the back of the hallway. His expression remained focused as he described trends in the development of communications technology and their effects on audiences and consumers. Could it be that Marshall McLuhan had returned to St. Michael’s? Thanks to a bit of ingenuity with a projector and a life-size foam-board cut-out, USMC Professor Paolo Granata had indeed brought back the great media scholar in the form of an animated silhouette—a reincarnation to which McLuhan may have given his wry and playful approval.

Professor Granata’s installation provided ambiance for a recreation of McLuhan’s office, one of five sites at USMC made available to the public over the weekend of May 26-27 as part of Doors Open Toronto, an annual citywide event now in its nineteenth year. The theme of Doors Open 2018—“Film: The Great Romance”—was a perfect fit for St. Mike’s, the site of numerous film and television shoots over the years. One imagines it would have amused Professor McLuhan, as well.

Some of the items on display in the printing studio at the Kelly Library.

St. Michael’s was the only federated college at the University of Toronto participating independently in Doors Open, which this year made over 130 different sites available to the public with no admission fee. St. Basil’s Church was a natural first stop for those coming to campus from Bay Street. Visitors who entered the gate facing Queen’s Park may instead have begun with the Shook Common Room in the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, where ample sunlight throughout the weekend illuminated the stained glass panels commemorated Etienne Gilson, Jacques Maritain, and Fr. Henry Carr, CSB.

Professor Granata drew many visitors to campus with his recreation of McLuhan’s office. The exhibit boasted a number of authentic artifacts from McLuhan’s life, including a 1969 deck of cards emblazoned with gnomic phrases such as “Is there a life before death?” These “probes” served his larger aim of using play to inspire critical reflection on our shared media environment, a point Professor Granata emphasized during a lecture on McLuhan’s unique genius that he delivered at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Among his selection of memorable McLuhan quotations was a line on the importance of play for thinking: “At work man specializes; at play he uses all his faculties.” A number of St. Mike’s students from McLuhan’s era attended the lecture and visited the office recreation to sign the guestbook.

The non-circulating PIMS library includes a number of printed volumes that are centuries old.

Across St. Joseph Street at the Kelly Library, visitors took advantage of two Doors Open offerings. Small tours of the library’s Printing Studio departed every half hour from 10:30 a.m. onwards both days of the event; demonstrations of antique methods and devices (including the Jobber Press) proved so popular that guests began to sign up for Sunday tour slots on Saturday after Saturday’s remaining slots had filled to capacity. Visitors to the library had one other tour option: At 2 and 2:45 p.m. each day, 10-person groups departed the ground floor for a look into the PIMS Library on the fourth floor. The non-circulating collection is renowned among scholars and researchers for its special holdings, including manuscripts that date back to the 10th century. Though access is normally restricted, blue-shirted volunteers were happy to arrange guests into an orderly queue for tours, making one more part of St. Michael’s available to a larger public.

Those volunteers, who came from both the City of Toronto and the travel company Booking.com, stood at stations all around campus to hand out information and direct visitors to USMC’s Doors Open sites as well as food stations and a St. Mike’s merchandise tent. All told, hundreds of people walked the paving stones of Elmsley Place over the weekend. If Marshall McLuhan makes a virtual return for next year’s Doors Open, perhaps St. Mike’s will welcome thousands more.


Martyn Wendell Jones is a content specialist in the Office of Communications.