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The Club Monaco building at the corner of Bloor and Avenue Road is emblazoned with the words “Department of Household Science”

The Club Monaco building at the corner of Bloor and Avenue Road is emblazoned with the words “Department of Household Science.” Is this where women were once taught the physics behind the tuna casserole?—Raoul Fernandez, High Park

Household science arrived at U of T in 1906, at the behest of Victoria College’s chancellor, Nathanael Burwash. At the time, women had just gained admission to the university, and he wanted to encourage them to study subjects “related to their role.” Tractor heiress Lillian Massey Treble, a zealous proponent of the then popular household science movement, put up a vast sum for the neoclassical behemoth. With the imperious grandeur of a Greek temple, it was designed to lend legitimacy to the fledgling department, which offered courses covering everything from the biology of yeast to the principles of clarifying soup. The degree survived until 1975, by which time final exams that asked women to compare the methods of making steamed and soft custards had long passed their best-before date.

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