Neill-Wycik held its official sod-turning party in April 1969 behind a board fence at the corner of Mutual and Gerrard Streets. Three years of planning and hard work went into the creation of the only student-run high rise in Toronto. The building is named for Alexander Sutherland Neill, the founder of Sumerhill (one of the world’s most successful free schools) and Mr. and Mrs. Wycik, who served Ryerson students at Oakham House for more than 25 years.
Historically, housing had never been a strength of the Ryerson administration. In 1966 some Ryerson students got together to run a housing registry to combat the severe shortage. They started looking for a permanent solution and saw co-op housing as a possible answer.
A newly created Board of Directors worked incredibly hard over three years to arrange financing, get a site and organize construction. In 1968 the board moved 100 students into the major training ground, Rochdale College, where they began to learn about administering a co-op.
The student-run organization supervised the construction of Neill-Wycik and the first move-in in 1970. Next, they had to create a community and committee structure to run the building. This was and is not without its problems.
Participation is still our mainstay. The co-operative model set up by the founders of Neill-Wycik is still the most important aspect of the building; one we hope all our members will carry on.