At the invitation of Henry Marshall Tory, first president of the University of Alberta, the Catholic community founded an affiliated College on the University campus in 1926. There was a pressing need for Catholic post-secondary education in the province, and Archbishop John Joseph O'Leary responded to this need by inviting the Christian Brothers to take over the College administration. The College housed up to 100 men in very close quarters and provided university courses in Christian apologetics, ethics and philosophy.
In 1963 administration of the college was passed from the Christian Brothers to the Basilian Fathers. The academic programming and visibility of the college increased under the guidance of the Basilian Fathers. In most Catholic educational institutions, lay women and men have assumed ever greater responsibilities, and St. Joseph's College is no exception. In administration, academics, and pastoral care, lay persons are living out their baptismal calling in a visible and dynamic way.
Over the years, the physical structure of SJC has also responded to changing student needs. The men’s residence now houses fewer men, in much more comfortable quarters. Our women’s residence, Kateri House, had originally housed relatively few students but has recently been greatly expanded as SJC built a women’s residence in 2015.