A Brief History Of Redeemer University

Photo by Tanner Mardis on Unsplash

The first thing aspiring students should do before attending a new school is to get to know its history. While it’s not mandatory, it is an excellent way to get a feel for the campus and to understand the story behind it.

Imagine walking around the campus and coming across a building named after an iconic individual who had a significant impact on the university’s history. Don’t you want to know what made this person so special that they were honoured with a building named after them? It is something that I would be interested in knowing. 

There is a possibility that you will one day have a building named after you on campus as well. 

In addition to learning about a building’s history, learning about the development of the campus is also valuable knowledge to have. Did you know that in the year 2020, Redeemer University College was officially named just Redeemer University? 

Maybe you did… or maybe you did not, but that’s okay. Reading this article can be a great way to learn something new about your university that you didn’t know.

So folks, let’s get started!

Before The Year 2000

As many of you know, this university is dominated by the Christian faith. In Ontario, there was a demand for an institution with a Reformed perspective. 

If you are not familiar with the meaning of the word reformed, it is simply a smaller group of individuals out of the larger group of believers who love and are willing to serve Jesus Christ. Although Christian churches intend to discuss and teach the followers of Christ about their faith, Reformed communities place their primary focus on education, which is why they fix so much time, effort, and support into Christian education. 

During the 1950s, the Reformed community tried to establish a university but faced a great deal of disagreement in the following years. As a result of an investigation conducted by the feasibility study committee, the Ontario Christian College Association was established in the year 1976. In partnership with the Reformed community in Hamiton, the association and its Board of Governors aimed to open an educational institution in Ontario. A private bill was eventually passed by the Ontario legislature that helped and supported the idea of authorizing an educational postsecondary institution.

As a result, Redeemer College went from being a simple thought to being brought into existence. 

Students first stepped through these College’s doors in 1982. A little more than 150 students attended that year, both full-time and part-time students. Throughout the years, the number of students attending the school continued to grow. As the student population increased, the size of the campus expanded as well. A few extra acres of land were brought by the college for the construction of its new campus. 

Following the completion of the new facilities after the purchase in 1985, the college celebrated its first convocation ceremony in the year 1986 with only 40 graduates. The college only offered one degree at the time, which was a Bachelor of Christian Studies, so those 40 students didn’t have the opportunity to graduate with different degrees. The Ontario Government, however, passed a Bill in 1998 allowing the college to offer two additional degrees, the Bachelor of Arts degree and the Bachelor of Science degree. 

With the addition of the two other degrees, the student population increased even more. 

From The Year 2000, Onwards

When the Christian community began to make the college more popular, the Ontario Legislature elected to change its name from Redeemer College to Redeemer University College. 

I find it fascinating how Redeemer became known as both a university and a college.

Eventually, in 2003, the province passed another Bill allowing the school to offer a Bachelor of Education degree to replace the previous Bachelor of Christian Studies degree. A mandate for this Bill came from the Ontario College of Teachers. Now that the degree has been renamed, those who achieve it in Ontario will be able to teach Christian-based classes from kindergarten to grade 10. 

Adding to the campus’s size and population, a new library was built in 2005 named the Peter Turkstra Library. As a benefactor who contributed financial resources and exceptional advice during the creation of the campus, Peter was recognized by the school by naming a building after him.  

As the campus grew, it went against the government in court to allow students to be forgiven from a student loan if they completed their academic year. Though they did not win that case, the school was able to lower their tuition in 2019 after receiving a larger lump sum of donations from generous individuals. 

Now you’ve probably seen that the name of this school is no longer Redeemer University College, but is now Redeemer University. This is because the province of Ontario permitted the school to remove “college” and to simply keep the “university.” 

In a nutshell, that’s the history of the university.

If you’re curious about some facts involving the university, here are three interesting facts you need to know! 

  1. Under the three degrees they offer, which were mentioned above, they offer 39 different majors and streams to choose from. 
  2. Students who are enrolled in certain programs can also participate in an eight-month co-op work term. 
  3. Each class has approximately 20 students with a variation in size between 1 and 100 students.  

Hopefully, you’ve learned some facts about this university you weren’t aware of, and that it’ll encourage you to explore its campus and the amazing things it’s got to offer! 

Published on September 7, 2021

About Marisa Manichan

“Hi everyone! It is my pleasure to introduce myself as Marisa Manichan, a third-year student in McMaster University’s Honours Commerce program. My goal is to graduate with a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a specialization in Accounting and a minor in Innovation. A few activities I enjoy doing include writing short stories and blogs, photography, traveling, and gaming!”