Emmanuel College has a unique history and relationship with the University of Saskatchewan and pre-dates the Saskatoon institution by some thirty years. The College was founded at Prince Albert in 1879 by Rt. Rev. John McLean as a “training College for Native Helpers.” In 1883 by an Act of Parliament, Emmanuel College was incorporated as "The University of Saskatchewan.” When the provincial university was established in Saskatoon in 1909, the Synod decided to relinquish its title and opt for affiliation to the new university.
Emmanuel sold its old site to the federal government, to be used for a penitentiary, and shipped all its belongs to Saskatoon in four box cars. On unbroken prairie on the east side of the river, professors, students and carpenters began to construct a series of wooden buildings. This “College of Shacks” was moved between 1910 and 1912 to the campus. In 1913 Rugby Chapel, so named because it had been funded by the staff and students of Rugby School, England was moved to the campus from Prince Albert.
A stone clad, permanent college building was constructed between 1911 and 1912. Designed by Brown and Vallance, the building contained residential space for students and the college Principal, classrooms and a refectory in the basement. In 1916 the College was used as a military hospital for returned soldiers and in 1918, as a hospital during the outbreak of influenza. In 1962 McLean Hall was built as an addition to Emmanuel College but a proposed walkway connecting the two was never completed.
Rugby Chapel was reopened in 1922 after a period of disuse during WWI. A pipeless furnace was later installed to replace 3 heating stoves, the ceiling was raised, the walls decorated and finally, a pipe organ installed in the summer of 1923. In 1926 a stained-glass window, “For the sake of the Name they went forth,” was installed to commemorate the Emmanuel students who died in WWI.
In 1964 St. Chad’s College of Regina joined Emmanuel.