About this Exhibit

Exploring the development of Marshall McLuhan’s theories in the context of his academic and personal life at St. Michael’s College, the multi-media exhibition opened to the public on October 13th 2016, showcasing Marshall McLuhan’s central role in the rise of the Toronto School of Communication. The exhibition launched the newly refurbished first floor learning space of 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 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 Harold Innis, Erik Havelock, Edmund Carpenter and Northrop Frye. The exhibition 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.

Patrons were invited to witness McLuhan as a complex thinker, full of insights into the human condition and our relationship with media and technology, but also 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. The exhibition opened with a lecture by Paul Elie “The Makings of a Spirituality of Technology: Glenn Gould, Marshall McLuhan, and “Electronic Participation” and and the unveiling of the iconic Pied Pipers All painting by René Cera. The exhibition 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 13th-16th).


13 October to
20 December, 2016

Curated by

Student Assistants

  • Katherine Ing
  • Kalina Nedelcheva

Graphic Design by

  • Sheila Eaton