List of Oldest Universities in Canada

oldest universities in canada

Canada is a very popular study destination for international students around the world, not only because of the presence of several eminent universities offering high-quality education but also because of the relatively low cost of tuition fees, especially when compared with countries like the UK or the US. Did you know there are some universities in Canada that have been in operation for almost 2 centuries? Let’s take a look at this blog to know more about the oldest universities in Canada which are still renounced as academically excellent institutions in the present day!

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Top 20 Oldest Universities in Canada

Wondering which is the oldest university in Canada? Here is a complete list of the oldest universities in Canada as per their foundation year.

  1. Université Laval (1663)
  2. University of New Brunswick (1785)
  3. The University of King’s College (1789) [Oldest Chartered University in Canada]
  4. Saint Mary’s University (1802)
  5. Dalhousie University (1818)
  6. Université de Saint-Boniface (1818)
  7. McGill University (1821)
  8. University of Toronto (1827)
  9. Acadia University (1838)
  10. Mount Allison University (1839)
  11. Queen’s University (1841)
  12. Bishop’s University (1843)
  13. University of Ottawa (1848)
  14. St. Francis Xavier University (1853)
  15. The University of Winnipeg (1871)
  16. École Polytechnique de Montréal (1873)
  17. The University of Manitoba (1877)
  18. The University of Western Ontario (1878)
  19. University of Windsor (1963)
  20. Université de Moncton (1963)

Do you know that Universite Laval is considered the oldest post-secondary academic institution in Canada while McGill University is the oldest anglophone university in Canada’s Quebec? The oldest university in Canada is Universite Laval established in 1633.

Let’s know about the history of some of these above mentioned oldest universities in Canada in much more detail!

Université Laval

Located in Canada’s thriving city- Quebec, Université Laval is one of the oldest universities in Canada and has its roots going back to 1663 when it was founded by the issue of a royal charter. Initially, it served as a training centre for priests to be sent to serve in New France. It is one of the research hubs of the country with four Canada Excellence Research Chairs and also has a research team dedicated to developments on projects like Crispr, cancer screening, and the ebola vaccine. The university provides undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in 500+ courses with a professional faculty of over 5000 members. It has produced more prime ministers of Canada than any other university and has attracted students globally. The university has a beautiful campus accompanied with comfortable facilities for fostering students’ campus experience. 

Credits – Université Laval

University of Toronto

Ranking at the 25th position globally as per the QS World University Rankings 2021, the University of Toronto is the top university in Canada. Founded as Kings College through a royal charter in 1827, it is one of the oldest universities in Canada. Divided into 18 academic units, the university offers more than 700 undergraduate and 200 postgraduate programs of study in a diverse range of fields. Apart from academics, the university offers their students a vibrant campus life where they can choose from more than 1000 different organisations and groups for students as per their interests. The alumni network of this esteemed university consists of more than 5,60,000 highly established people worldwide.

Credits – The University of Toronto

The University of King’s College

The oldest chartered university in Canada, the University of King’s College was founded in Windsor, Nova Scotia in 1789. The first English-speaking university in the Commonwealth of Nations outside the UK, it is highly acclaimed for its interdisciplinary academic programs. Another benefit of studying in this university is getting access to the joint resources of the University of King’s College and the Dalhousie University, due to their joint academic partnership. This also gives you a chance to choose from more than 2500 courses, more than 60-degree options and a variety of exchange programs.

University of King’s College

McGill University

McGill University is a public university founded in Montreal, Canada in 1821. Counted among the oldest universities in Canada, this university holds the 31st rank globally according to the QS World University Rankings 2021. The university consists of 12 faculties and 14 schools, offering degrees in different fields including law, arts, music, science, dentistry, education, engineering etc. Apart from bachelor’s and master’s programs, the university also offers a range of different certificate and diploma programs that students can choose from. The alumni of this university consist of notable people spread over 180 countries around the world.

Credits – McGill University

University of New Brunswick

One of Canada’s well-known universities, the University of New Brunswick was founded in 1785 in Fredericton. One of the oldest universities in Canada, it offers world-class programs in a diverse range of subjects. The university is spread across 2 campuses where students can choose from more than 75 programs of study. The University of New Brunswick offers undergraduate and postgraduate programs in over 60 disciplines, which includes the arts, education, engineering, health, law, science, nursing etc.

University of New Brunswick

The University of New Brunswick is also the oldest English-language university in Canada!

The University of Western Ontario

The University of Western Ontario, also popularly known as Western University, is among the oldest universities in Canada. Founded in 1878 as the Western University of London, Ontario by Bishop Isaac Hellmuth, it initially hosted only four faculties – Arts, Medicine, Divinity and Law. The university is currently divided into 17 faculties which include music, law, social sciences, business, health sciences, engineering etc. The university offers more than 500 different programs at the undergraduate level and around 160 programs at the postgraduate and doctoral levels. Western University ranks at the 201st position in the QS World University Rankings 2021.

Western University

The University of Manitoba

The first university in western Canada, the University of Manitoba is one of the oldest universities in Canada. It was founded in 1877, it is the only research-intensive institution in the province of Manitoba in Canada. The university is divided into 24 faculties along with 3 colleges. The prospective students of this university can choose from more than 100 different courses of study across multiple schools, colleges and faculties. The university has over 1,45,000 alumni spread over 140 countries around the world. The global rank of the University of Manitoba is between 601-650 according to the QS World University Rankings 2021.

Credits – University of Manitoba

Saint Mary’s University

The next on our list of oldest universities in Canada is Saint Mary’s University which is located in Nova Scotia and was initially established as a boys’ school. According to Maclean’s magazine 2021, the university ranks 4th in Canada. The university has a multicultural environment with a campus that spread over a land of 80-acres. Saint Mary’s University provides students with academic degrees in the fields of  Business,  Liberal Arts, Environmental Studies, Science, and Engineering. The university has a skilled and expert faculty to provide theoretical and practical exposure to students. Having a strong partnership with many institutions helps in providing employment opportunities for students. The university has attracted students from over 100 countries across the world. 

Credits – Saint Mary’s University

Dalhousie University

Dalhousie University is located in Nova Scotia and was established in 1818. The academic training at the university focuses on interactive learning, work-integrated, and research-oriented programs to enhance knowledge in students.  Dalhousie University has had 250+ startup programs and has been the recipient of 4 Killiam prizes since 2005. It has also been listed among the top 100 universities for creating a social impact by the Times Higher Education. The University offers over 200 undergraduate and postgraduate programs. It has 3 campuses and exhibits a warm approach to bring together multiple communities. It has attracted many students globally by providing excellent facilities and supporting them with over 400 clubs, tailored communities, and societies.

Credits – Dalhousie University

Université de Saint-Boniface

Located in Manitoba, Saint Boniface is a French-spoken university. It is one of the oldest universities in Western Canada and has a significant reputation for students who wish to pursue their studies in French programs. It is affiliated with the University of Manitoba and offers students academic opportunities in many programs with Arts being its strength. The university also has special programs for students who wish to pursue interesting career options like ‘Translators’ which is a burgeoning option owing to globalized and multicultural environments in industries. Saint Boniface university provides students with many facilities and resources to excel in their interests, projects, and cultural activities.

Université de Saint-Boniface

Top 10 Oldest Universities in the World

Now that you are well-versed with the top 20 oldest universities in Canada, it’s now time to explore some of the oldest universities and longest-running universities in the world:

  1. Al-Azhar University, Egypt (970 AD)
  2. University of Bologna, Italy (1088)
  3. University of Oxford, UK (1096-1167)
  4. University of Salamanca, Spain (1134)
  5. University of Paris, France (1160-1250)
  6. University of Cambridge, UK (1209)
  7. University of Padua, Italy (1222)
  8. University of Naples Federico II, Italy (1224)
  9. University of Siena, Italy (1240)
  10. University of Coimbra, Portugal (1290)

[BONUS] Scholarships in Canada for Indian Students


What is the oldest University in Canada?

Laval University is by far the oldest university in Canada with roots going back to 1663.

What’s the oldest University in Ontario?

The University of Toronto is the oldest university in Ontario, Canada, which was established in 1827.

Which is the oldest University in the world?

The University of Bologna, known as the “Nourishing Mother of the Studies” according to its Latin motto, was founded in 1088 and is the world’s oldest university, having never been closed.

Hope you found this blog on the oldest universities in Canada interesting. Want to pursue your higher education in one of these universities? Reach out to our experts at Leverage Edu for the best guidance in choosing a university and course based on your preferences and interests. Sign up for a free session today or call us at 1800572000!

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    1. Hey Dheeraj!

      If you want to study in Canada then feel free to reach to our experts on 1800572000! They will provide you with personalised mentorship and assist you in every step in the application process. Best of Luck!

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