About this Exhibit

Exploring McLuhan’s theories in the context of his life and work at St. Michael’s College 

McLuhan on Campus: Local Inspirations, Global Visions
McLuhan exhibit banner

EXPLORING THE DEVELOPMENT OF MARSHALL MCLUHAN’S THEORIES in the context of his academic and personal life at St. Michael’s College, this multi-media exhibit opened to the public on October 13, 2016, showcasing Marshall McLuhan’s central role in the rise of the Toronto School of Communication. The exhibit coincided with the launch of a newly refurbished first-floor learning space at the John M. Kelly Library.

In the words of Carl Williams, it was “McLuhan’s intuitive capacity to seize on those concepts that facilitated rather than inhibited the cross-fertilization of ideas” [1] that sparked a new global interdisciplinary exchange in the study of media, culture, and technology. The humble beginnings of this explosion of interest in Toronto and what McLuhan was doin’ were explored in this exhibit through mixed media audio, texts, video, and photographs selected from archival repositories across the University of Toronto and the Federated Colleges of St. Michael’s, Trinity, and Victoria. McLuhan’s media theories were explored in relation to the other members of the Toronto School of Communication, including scholars Harold InnisEric HavelockEdmund Carpenter and Northrop Frye.

The exhibit featured rare and newly discovered items from the Sheila and Wilfred Watson archives, Donald Theall papers, and Marshall McLuhan Collection. Also on display were intimate examples of McLuhan’s correspondence with Claude Bissell, Tom Easterbrook, Carl Williams, and other friends and colleagues on campus.


  • 13 October to 20 December, 2016

Curated by

  • Matthew Brower
  • Laura Cunningham
  • Simon Rogers
  • John Shoesmith

Student Assistants

  • Katherine Ing
  • Kalina Nedelcheva

Designed by

  • Sheila Eaton

Exhibit Highlights

Patrons witness McLuhan as a complex thinker, full of insights into the human condition and our relationship with media and technology and as a warm and caring collaborator, colleague, and friend with a penchant for humour. His personal correspondence and writings include extensive jokes, witticisms, and a keen appreciation for word-play.

Brief Timeline of Academic Career at St. Michael’s College

Marshall McLuhan

(born 21 July 1911 in Edmonton, Alberta; died 31 December 1980 in Toronto, Ontario)


McLuhan is hired to teach in the English Department of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, where he continues to teach until his death in 1980


Vanguard Press publishes The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man


McLuhan-Carpenter group win a grant from the Ford Foundation. Group establishes a series of weekly seminars which will run until 1955, and publishes Explorations magazine (1953-1959)


McLuhan coins the phrase “The medium is the message” at a conference for radio broadcasters in Vancouver, B.C.


The Gutenberg Galaxy, published by the University of Toronto Press, wins Governor-General’s Award for Non-fiction (Canada’s highest literary award)


McLuhan launches the Centre for Culture and Technology in the Coach House building at 39 Queens Park Crescent East


McGraw-Hill publishes Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man


McLuhan’s celebrity rises, with articles about and interviews with McLuhan appearing in Harper’s, Newsweek, The New York Times, Life, Fortune, Esquire, Look, TV Guide, McCalls, Glamour, Vogue, Family Circle, Mademoiselle, Playboy and The Saturday Evening Post


The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects is published by Random House


McLuhan made a Companion of the Order of Canada


Speaking engagements take McLuhan all over Europe and North America; McLuhan appears on BBC TV; gives Gerstein Lecture Series at York University and speaks to standing room only audiences in the Bahamas, Spain, Switzerland, and across the U.S.A.


McLuhan plays himself in a cameo role in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall

26 September 1979

McLuhan suffers a stroke which impedes his ability to speak


By his death in 1980, McLuhan has written and edited over 20 volumes and well over 200 articles

Last Look

Marshall McLuhan’s career timeline
McLuhan On Campus exhibit posters


Thank You

The exhibit was co-sponsored by the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology and the Faculty of Information as part of “The Toronto School: Then, Now, Next” International Conference (October 13-16, 2016).


References text TBA.