Good schools—and good neighbourhoods

For King and Country began as a simple project to make available the names of all Toronto students who had served in any war. Our first school “histories” were sketchy outlines only: opening date; name changes; anniversaries or reunions; sometimes a closing date. A pleasant surprise once the project got rolling, was the interest readers took not just in the memorials, and the names listed, but in their old neighbourhoods—as they remembered them—and in the school themselves.

Despite some similarities, every memorial plaque or illuminated manuscript is different. Similarly, no two schools are exactly alike. We patch together descriptions—there is no single, helpful resource to make our research easy—and learn how Toronto schools have always anchored and defined their neighbourhoods.

Today we add five more schools—each with its own story. Readers will recognize many of the names on Oakwood Collegiate’s long list of accomplished graduates. Wellesley closed in 1954, but still gets fan mail on our blog. Donna Adams, a young student when Coleman Avenue closed in 1964, recalls teachers crying as they packed up to leave, and will take us on a virtual tour in an upcoming blog post. We hope students of Hartman Jones (closed before 2006) will fill in the gaps of its history.

One hundred years ago this autumn, the Battle of Courcelette raged in far-off France. Among the thousands of Canadian casualties were six young Scarborough men, their student days not long behind them. The neighbourhood rallied to turn a bleak tragedy of 1916 into hope for the future. They renamed their school Courcelette to honour the six. The school continues its close connection with vets to this day.

Memorials, names, schools, students, neighbourhoods—past, present, and future—all part of Toronto’s story.

North York school and neighbourhood changes reflected at Claude Watson School for the Arts
North York school and neighbourhood changes are reflected in this framed photo at Claude Watson School for the Arts.

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