What’s in the database right now?

Number of schools: 118
Other organizations: 3
Names on memorials: 47,232
Latest additions:
Mimico High School
David Hornell Junior School
New Toronto Soldiers’ Comforts Association
Wesley Mimico United (Methodist) Church

Earlier posts

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A “Rescued” Memorial: Humberside Sailors of WWII

For some years, this “Greetings from Humberside” poster hung over the fireplace of a steak house in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Attractive, colourful, and no doubt at times a conversation piece, it was a long way from home.

Framed greeting at Humberside Collegiate

The whole of Humberside Collegiate Institute in Toronto sent greetings to their sailors posted in Halifax.

Humberside Collegiate Institute is about 1,500 kilometres (950 miles) from Sydney. What was the story?

During the Second World War, collegiate staff and students decided to link the security of life in West Toronto to the perils of putting out to sea so far from home.

A greeting-card style poster appeared. Hundreds of signatures crowded the big space. (Three separate signatures just above the school crest—lower right corner—may be those of the designers of the scroll: Jack Walling; Kay Kinnier; Lorne Eadie.)

We hope that this heartfelt message from home lifted the spirits of those stationed down east in the navy during the uncertain days of war.

The embarking sailors probably arranged safekeeping for their special gift, but in time the war ended, people dispersed, and the poster embarked on adventures of its own, until a sharp-eyed shopper realized its value.

The document’s travels—and rescue—are summarized at the bottom of the frame, as follows:

“Greetings From Humberside Scroll”

This document was found in Sydney, Nova Scotia in 1988. It was displayed as part of the decoration of a steak house. It was used as a focal point over the fireplace in the lobby. It was purchased from a local antique dealer and given as a gift to Chuck Armitage, a graduate of Humberside.

It is believed that the whole school got together during the Second World War and sent their regards to the Humberside students who were serving in the Canadian navy stationed in Nova Scotia. It seems like everybody took part in this wonderful event of school spirit.

It will serve as a perpetual reminder of the commitment of Humberside students to the safety and security of their country.

The sailors named are now in our For King and Country database along with the names from the two traditional bronze memorials also displayed at the school.

On Remembrance Day 2017, a special thank you to those who seventy-odd years ago worked to cheer up their far off Humberside mates—and to all who played a part in returning this one-of-a-kind memorial to its rightful place.

If you recognize any of these names, or can add to the story, please let us know.

Home is the sailor, home from the sea…
Robert Louis Stevenson

A close-up of some of the names on the Humberside Collegiate poster

Memorials: Some safe, and some at risk

Toronto neighbourhoods offered both surprises and traditional memorials as we organized 1,508 new names for “back to school” 2017.

A happy surprise was solving the puzzle of an unidentified WWI plaque displayed in a local café. The long-forgotten Aura Lee Club, a social and sports group active from 1887 to 1925, was not a school, but their list included many young men who had attended Toronto schools. We have added their names to the For King and Country database as our tribute to the “sixty-three in all” who died. (Our blog post on the Aura Lee memorial has already attracted the attention of a researcher for the Hockey Hall of Fame.)

An unhappy surprise was discovering memorials from the soon-to-be-demolished Woodgreen United Church (east end Toronto) for sale by online public auction. A small group of us (all members of Toronto Branch) tried to rescue them, but our pooled budgets didn’t add up. Fortunately, the five Woodgreen honour rolls went to a serious collector who has promised to supply us with photographs. The photos and the hundreds of names they bear will become part of our For King and Country database. The fate of three bronze war memorials from Woodgreen is unknown.

Further alarms sounded when we heard of amalgamated Royal Canadian Legion branches struggling to find new spots for memorials they have acquired from various sources. Still a worrisome work-in-progress, but we aim for a happy ending.

The war lists of three grand old Toronto schools: Duke of Connaught (1912); Palmerston Avenue (1889); and Forest Hill Village (1930) are in safer hands. We thank Jane Adair Hamilton who took time after teaching all day to scrutinize and decipher Palmerston memorials—especially the faded Great War scroll of names—and Marg McCann, who updated our Forest Hill photos.

If you hear of any “at risk” Toronto war memorials, please contact us. We may lack dollars, but we promise resourceful efforts to preserve what we can of our city’s irreplaceable history.

Discarded honour rolls from Woodgreen United Church await amid other auction items for pickup by their new owner


A Student Remembers Coleman Avenue School

In November 2016, we added Coleman Avenue School to For King and Country. Except for brief mentions in old issues of the Toronto Daily Star and The Globe, information about the “vanished” school was hard to find. Fortunately, former student Donna Adams-Hannigan offered to share her clear memories of Coleman:

I remember the teachers crying while they packed all the books in the last days of school. (1964)

The bell tower had no bell. There were two main entrances, and a separate one for the kindergarten. At the back, the “Boys” and “Girls” doors (with names inscribed above) had stairs leading to the basement washrooms and “gym,” with its cement floor painted shiny grey, and backless benches around the perimeter. During the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, Donna’s older sister heard the principal tell a teacher while organizing drills for the students to shelter in the basement, “We can’t get them all in. There’s not enough room.”

Coleman’s WWII memorial is now at the TDSB archives.

In spite of the rudimentary gym facilities, the girls’ track uniforms boasted gold shorts with a black stripe; white blouse buttoned at the back, with a diagonal banner across the chest spelling out “Coleman” in gold. Donna’s father, Doug Adams, was head of the Home and School when the impressive uniforms were supplied.

The main floor kindergarten faced Coleman Avenue; the Grade One classroom faced west; the combined Grade 5/6 faced Balfour Avenue. The principal’s office (with no secretary) was also on the main floor.

A wide internal stairway led to the second floor. Two right turns led to the nurse’s office, where the window reached almost to the ceiling. A large leather chaise and an enamel and glass cabinet were among the furnishings. Also on the second floor was the staff room, “a secret sanctuary for the teachers,” Donna recalled. “We were all agog when the door opened and the cigarette smoke rolled out.” Along a small corridor was the teachers’ washroom, “another curiosity.” The Grade Three and Four classrooms; the Grade Two classroom—directly over the Grade 5/6 room— had wooden lockers instead of a cloakroom, and a door to the outside fire escape.

Donna added that speculation arose that the school closed because the subway was extending from Woodbine to Warden, but parents had worried that Coleman—no proper gym and a lockable cart instead of a library—lacked the advantages of neighbouring Secord and Gledhill schools.

The school reopened briefly as East End Boys School. It was mainly portables surrounding the school proper.

Donna remembered a main-floor alcove, which held a wreath and poppies. She asked about a war memorial, as her father and her uncle Reg, who had also attended Coleman, served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. Her father, Doug Adams, appears on the memorial. For King and Country volunteer Marg McCann found Coleman’s A.J. Casson memorial at the TDSB Archives.