Rare Books and Special Collections

Historically, the Trinity library's rare books and special collections have been mainly theological, with strength in Anglicanism. More recently, other important collections have been acquired, such as the Churchill, G8/G20, and Upjohn-Waldie collections, the latter including the works of Eric Gill, several incunabula, travel narratives, and other books that illustrate the history of books and fine printing from the fifteenth to the mid-twentieth century.

Rare books and special collections material

All rare books and special collections material is non-circulating and can be viewed between 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday.

Drop-in requests can be accommodated if submitted before 4:30 pm but this is not guaranteed. To ensure material will be available for you to view contact the library at ask.grahamlibrary@utoronto.ca or by phone at 416-978-5851 to make advanced arrangements. Please provide the call number and title of the item you wish to view. See example rare books record in the U of T catalogue.

Required identification

Everyone submitting a request to view rare or special materials must provide identification in the form of the following:

  • TCard
  • Library card from another educational institute
  • Driver's license or other photo identification


  • When viewing rare books or special collections material, you may use a soft pencil or laptop in the reading room. Pens, water bottles, jackets, bags are not permitted and will be stored in the library office.
  • You may request to view multiple items, but you may only view one at a time. If you have a special requirement to examine items simultaneously this may be arranged on a case-by-case basis.
  • No photocopying of materials.
  • Photography may be permitted pending approval from library staff.

SPCK Collection

In 1827 John Strachan secured a royal charter to establish the University of King's College as an avowedly Anglican institution of higher education in Upper Canada. While in England he also obtained promises of grants of 500 pounds each from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) to assist in the formation of a Divinity Library for his fledgling colonial university.The SPCK books, served as an important part of the working collection of the Trinity Library for more than a century.

Strachan collection

John Strachan, first Bishop of Toronto and founder of the University of Toronto and of Trinity College, made two substantial gifts to the Trinity College Library, the first comprising 600 books in 1853, shortly after the founding of the College, and the last as a bequest of his 3,000-volume library at his death in December 1867. For a century or longer these books remained in the circulating collection of the College Library

Churchill Collection

The Graham Library's Churchill Collection was established with a gift from the Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy in 1995 and has since been enriched with a major donation from the collection of the late F. Bartlett Watt. Books, pamphlets, translations, ephemera, letters and related items, including memorabilia that belonged to Churchill's bodyguard, W. H. Thompson, are included.

Richard Hooker Collection

W. Speed Hill's definitive collection of the works of the first great Anglican theologian, Richard Hooker (1554-1600), was acquired by the Graham Library in 2003, through the generosity of Speed Hill, general editor of the Folger Edition of the Works of Richard Hooker, and of David and Mary Neelands.

Eric Gill Collection


In 2007 the Graham Library received as a gift from Guy and Sandra (Waldie) Upjohn an important collection of the works of Eric Gill (1882-1940), who has been deemed the greatest artist-craftsman of the last century. The collection, which belonged to J. Kemp Waldie, comprises 79 books and pamphlets and some 200 engravings and drawings.

G8 Collection


The G8/G20 Research Collection in the Graham Library includes materials in various media emanating from the G7/G8 and G20 economic summits of major industrialized, democratic countries and from associated ministerial and other meetings, as well as analytical material produced by the G8 Research Group at the University of Toronto.