What’s in the database right now?

Number of schools: 120
Other organizations: 3
Names on memorials: 47,679
Latest additions:
St. Michael’s College
Newman Club of the University of Toronto

Earlier posts

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Remembering in 2014

The year 2014 began with the promise of much remembering.

One hundred years since the outbreak of the Great War; 70 years since D-day in the Second World War. Princess Anne would re-dedicate Canada’s national war memorial in Ottawa, 75 years after her grandfather, King George VI, first unveiled it in 1939.

There were countless observances, hours of historic newsreels on television; families and individuals taking a closer look at personal connections to those who struggled through wars both at the front, and on the home front.

Toronto District School Board buildings lowered flags to half mast to honour Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo killed on their home ground short weeks before Remembrance Day. Losses—fresh and old—brought sadness.

A local Royal Canadian Legion buzzed with activity as boxes of poppies were stacked and labelled for pickup by veterans, cadets, Silver Cross mothers, and others who work to keep memories alive.

“For King and Country” pledges to help the remembering.

Canadian flag at half mast in front of red brick school

Flag flies at half mast at Birch Cliff Heights School, November 2014. ©Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society

Paving stone shaped like a poppy and painted red beside a concrete bench decorated with poppies

Poppies for year-round remembrance—Royal Canadian Legion, Eighth Street, New Toronto. ©Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society

Wellesley Public School: The old school bell remains

Wellesley Public School, closed in 1956, lingers in the memory of former students, who have responded to our blog post (Vanished School and Vanished Times-March 17, 2013).

When the students moved to Church Street School, Wellesley’s bell went with them. Its ringing days long past, the bell sits in a glass case, with a plaque that reads:

Bell erected 1874 / at / Wellesley Street Public School / N.E. corner Wellesley & Bay Sts. / Removed from old building / to this location 1957.

Mounted on the wall above the display case is the ceremonial shovel used by M.D. Morton, chairman of the Toronto Board of Education, to turn the sod for the new Church Street School.

Metal bell inside a glass cube.

The bell in its glass case at Church Street School. ©Toronto Branch OGS

One hundred schools and counting

As students and teachers settle into their classes for another year, our project volunteers are celebrating a back-to-school accomplishment—we now have a full 100 schools in For King and Country database!

Just added are war memorials and school histories from: The Bishop Strachan School; Davisville Public School; Eastern High School of Commerce; George Syme School; Humbercrest Public School; Keele Street School (which marks its own centenary on September 27); Maurice Cody School; Roselands Public School; Victoria College, and York Memorial Collegiate Institute.

The 10 new schools add 3,378 names to our database—for a grand total of 38,428 names of students, former students, and teachers who volunteered for active service, mainly in the two World Wars, but also in some other conflicts. And an added bonus for researchers… two of the new schools—The Bishop Strachan School and Victoria College— include the names of some students from outside Toronto.

Thanks to current technology, we’ve been able to index some memorials that might otherwise have been indecipherable due to the passage of time. Here’s just one example—this is a section of a World War II memorial designed by Group of Seven artist A.J. Casson, found at Maurice Cody School, near Davisville and Bayview. It was hand-lettered in ornate copperplate script with many flourishes. Faded ink made it extremely challenging to read the names listed, but, with the help of digital photography and a large-screen computer, we were able to transcribe them all for our database (although some characters remain unclear). There’s often more information in these memorials than the names alone. A legend accompanying this one tells us that the black ink crosses just before two entries in the left-hand column indicate “Died”, while the straight black line that appears before one of the entries in the right-hand column means “Discharged”. Other symbols were used to indicate “Missing” and “Prisoner of War”.

List of names with elaborate capital letters that sometimes extend down through the following line of writing.

Detail of WWII memorial at Maurice Cody School, Toronto. ©Toronto Branch OGS

Special acknowledgments are due this time around to volunteers Margaret Hurst, of Etobicoke, and Susan Murphy, of Parry Sound, who took on extra indexing over the past few months, allowing project coordinator Martha Jackson to do extra work on photos, memorial descriptions and school histories.

There’s nothing “magic” about the number 100, but we modestly suggest that this is a project milestone!