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Lost but Not Forgotten…

For King and Country, our online database of war memorials in Toronto schools, continues to grow, with 942 new names just added. These latest names are all from four elementary schools, three of which have now vanished from Toronto’s cityscape without a trace.

Children playing at Humber Bay School in 1914

Children at the Empire Day flag drill at Humber Bay School, May 22, 1914. Photo courtesy the Giles family

The Humber Bay School was built in 1888 on the west side of High Street in Etobicoke, close to the Humber Sewage Treatment Plant. The school premises and the name of the school changed several times over the next 75 years. In 1965, it became the first Etobicoke school to be closed because of declining enrolment, and the building was torn down in 1986 to make way for a housing development.  The Grand Avenue School once stood at 100 Grand Avenue in Etobicoke, just west of Mimico Creek. It was closed in 1969 but was later repurposed as a school for special needs. The building is believed to have been demolished in the late 1970s. The Silverthorn school was located at 55 Ypres Road, near Keele and Eglinton. It opened its classrooms in 1917 and was in operation until 2011, when its students were absorbed into the population of the middle school next door, since renamed Silverthorn Community School. The original building was replaced by a residential development two years ago.

The bricks and mortar of these three schools have gone, but their war memorials survive to remind us of students who volunteered for king and country. Humber Bay’s concrete obelisk memorial now stands proudly at a local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. Grand Avenue’s illuminated list of those who served now hangs in the same Legion branch. And Silverthorn’s illuminated list is in the custody of its namesake school next door.

Image of Great War memorial tablet

Great War tablet at Fairbank Memorial Public School ©Toronto Branch OGS

The fourth school whose war volunteers have now been recorded by Toronto Branch is Fairbank Memorial School at 555 Harvie Avenue near Dufferin and Eglinton. Fairbank Memorial, which opened its doors in 1920, was named to honour those who served in the Great War. It houses not only an illuminated list, but also a Great War tablet made of limestone, cut, polished, and engraved by returned soldiers.

The For King and Country database is free to search and now contains a total of more than 39,000 names and 104 schools, with photographs and additional biographical and historical information in many cases. Please get in touch with the project coordinator if you have any photographs or memorabilia of Toronto’s vanished schools that you would like to share – or if you would be interested in volunteering your time to help us continue to expand this valuable collection.

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Researching Imperial Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the First World War When the First World War broke out in August 1914, Canada was immediately involved as a Dominion of the British Empire. Tracing the history[...]
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In keeping with tradition, a number Toronto Branch members will be sharing “great moments” in their family history research in a series of short presentations. This year because of the global pandemic we are reaching[...]
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