Secondary Schools: N to Z


North Toronto Collegiate Institute (NTC-SS)

WWI Memorial at North Toronto Collegiate Institute. ©Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society

Location: 17 Broadway Avenue Toronto, Ontario  M4P 1R2 (east of Yonge Street; north of Eglinton Avenue). Former address (1971 to 2010) was 70 Roehampton Avenue.

Opened: 1910

Alternate or former names: North Toronto High School

Pre-1998 municipality: City of Toronto

Ward during WWI: Ward 2

Ward during WWII: Ward 9

Type of school: Secondary

1910 Autumn: Secondary schooling began in North Toronto when George H. Reed (for 20 years the principal of Markham High School) gathered five students on the second floor of the old Town Hall (northwest corner of Yonge Street and Montgomery Avenue).

1911 Apr: Thirty pupils enrolled; second teacher hired.

1911 Autumn: School occupied the entire top floor of the old Town Hall and had four teachers.

1912 May: School board bought three acres of farmland (not far from the Town Hall and fronting on Broadway Avenue) owned by Messrs. Maguire, Rennie and McKinley. The two-storey, five-room high school was built “as far to the south on these properties as possible.” This made room for a large playing field. Architectural style was “Collegiate Gothic.”

1912 Dec 2: Mr. Reed to be principal. Official opening delayed two days by bad weather. Students couldn’t cross muddy Yonge Street from the old Town Hall until several months later.

1912 Dec. 15: The school became part of the Toronto school system with the annexation of the town of North Toronto to Toronto.

1914-1915: Four more classrooms were added to the original building.

1919: Twelve teachers; more than 200 students.

1921: Became North Toronto Collegiate Institute. Building was doubled in size with a two-storey addition south of the original buildings; 10 more classrooms and related facilities, a boys’ and a girls’ entrances from Roehampton Avenue; alterations to the earlier buildings. Further additions in the 1920s included a third floor.

1971: The formal address was changed from 17 Broadway Avenue to 70 Roehampton Avenue, probably because of easy access to the major pedestrian routes at Yonge and Eglinton.

2007 November: Ground is broken for a new school

2010 September: The school year starts in the new building and the address changes back to 17 Broadway.

Published history:
Centennial story: the Board of Education for the city of Toronto, 1850–1950, ed. H. M. Cochrane (Toronto, 1950), p.154.
Filey, Mike. “The Brief Story of George H. Reed, the Founder of NTCI” in North Toronto C.I. FoundatioNews, Spring 2000, p.3. (available at:

Web sites:

Memorials transcribed:
NTC-SS-a: (WWI) Decorated bronze plaque with NTCI insignia: 1914 The Great War 1919 / In honour of the pupils / of North Toronto Collegiate / Institute who served in the / the Great War that freedom and / the Empire might endure. These made the supreme sacrifice: Two columns. First names followed by surnames. These gave their willing service. Three columns. First names followed by surnames.
At the bottom: Erected in grateful remembrance by the teachers and / students of the North Toronto Collegiate Institute.

NTC-SS-b: (WWII) A-K (part) Framed, under glass “Roll of Honour, 1939-1945” with NTCI insignia in the centre. Nine columns. Surnames followed by first names.  Columns iv, v, and vi have headings “Killed in Action.” First names followed by surnames. At the top of column v is the heading “Missing.” First names followed by surnames.

NTC-SS-c: (WWII) K (part)-W Framed, under glass “Roll of Honour, 1939-1945” with NTCI insignia in the centre. Nine columns. Surnames followed by first names. At the top of column v is the heading “Teachers on Active Service.” Initials followed by surnames. Column v also has heading “Killed in Action.” First name followed by surname (one name only). NOTE: Author Farley Mowat appears on this list.

Oakwood Collegiate Institute (OCI)

Oakwood Collegiate in the 1920s (City of Toronto Archives Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 240)

Location: 991 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto, Ontario M6E 1A3 (southwest corner of St. Clair Avenue West and Oakwood Avenue)

Opened: 1908

Alternate or former names:
Harbord Collegiate Institute—Annex (four or five rooms; top floor of King Edward Public School—College and Bathurst streets)
North West High School
Oakwood High School

Pre-1998 municipality: Toronto

Type of school: Secondary

Motto: Tempus Litteris Demus (Take Time to Learn)
Colours: Double blue and gold
Sports Teams: Barons; Lady Barons

1907: Harbord Collegiate (opened 1892) was overcrowded. Old Toronto was expanding to the northwest.

1908: Toronto Board of Education set aside $25,000. to buy property for a new school. Five acres of woods (east side) and fields atop a hill, on the southwest corner of Oakwood Avenue—part of a large tract owned by Tom Bull—were purchased for $15,000. Tenders were placed in Toronto newspapers seeking bids for school construction.

1908 Sept: An annex on the top of King Edward Public school opened for the North West High School students. Principal: John L. Cox (died before the move to the new building); about seven teachers. Enrolment was 207 students—108 in the first form (grade nine); 53 in the second form (grade ten); and 46 in the third form (grade eleven). This high enrolment meant a new school could be independent of Harbord.

1910 Jan: School renamed Oakwood High School.

1910 June 2: Board awarded contracts for the erection of Oakwood High School.

1911 March: Principal-elect Robert A. Gray visited the school and said that “despite exertions to make the building habitable, the sky was the only roof.” Two springs of clear water flowed across the property into the west branch of Garrison Creek. There was a farmhouse at Oakwood and Burlington. Some speculated that the Board was planning an agricultural college.

1911 Sept: Barely finished (eight out of 12 rooms were ready; just one staircase to the second floor; no roof over the auditorium) the school opened for 130 students and 12 teachers from Harbord. Construction continued while classes were in session. Workers’ ladders sometimes tempted boys to climb up and walk across steel girders 50 to 60 feet in the air. Designed by Franklin Belfry, the exterior featured Don Valley #1 buff brick; a foundation set in Blue Beria Stone—shipped from a quarry in Beria, Ohio. At first, the closest streetcar stop was half a mile south at the north end of Dovercourt Road. Staff and students had to walk up the muddy hill each morning, until a plank sidewalk was added and used for two years. The fields surrounding the school were soon subdivided. A streetcar line from Avenue Road to Lansdowne Avenue later enabled easier access to the school.

1912 Mar: Attendance boundaries were increased, though there was already “a tacit understanding that any student no matter where he lived might apply for admission.”

1912 Sept: Oakwood became the first Toronto high school to offer manual training and household science courses.

1913 Feb 21: Official opening. Classics teacher Jesse Greenaway recalled, “Oakwood was different. As soon as I got off the trolley car I knew it was different. It was northwards towards the country. The halls were not crowded. It was spacious.”

1914: School renamed Oakwood Collegiate Institute. First theatre production.

World War One (1914-1918):
The cadet corps flourished. Of the 142 students and former students who enlisted, 108 returned. Isabel Sutherland, one of five teachers who served, was stationed with an American hospital unit in France, which was bombed with poison gas. Miss Sutherland died shortly after returning to Toronto. (Captain) A. W. Dunkley, fought at Vimy Ridge, and was wounded at Passchendaele. The Dunkley Scholarship is still awarded annually.

1915: Staff numbered 19.

1917: Senior rugby championship won. The new school had a reputation for excellence; was noted for an outstanding cadet corps.

1919: The flu epidemic closed the school for a month. Davenport Collegiate opened and took 100 students. Oakwood was so overcrowded that two temporary buildings were erected to accommodate 160 students.

Teacher Isabel Sutherland survived a gas attack in France, but died shortly after her return to Toronto (Toronto Daily Star, 29 Dec 1929, p13)

The 1920s:
1920: Oakwood was now one of the largest schools in Ontario. Two Oakwood grads took first and second place in the same year for top marks in Ontario. Oakwood was described as “a powerhouse.” The Oakwood Oracle, noted for literary excellence, began publishing in the early 1920s. The first editor, Frank Bear, later earned a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and became a professor of New Testament Studies at Trinity College. The library was considered one of the best in Canada, A literary society and a YWCA branch began. Oakwood had no cafeteria (even though “the technical school” had one) and because so much construction was being done in the early years, the lunch period was only a short recess. When a change was proposed to create a full lunch period, parents objected.

1921: Staff grew to 30, with more than 1,000 students. Oakwood hired the first high school secretary in Toronto—Miss Ethel Rowland.

1922: A third storey (10 classrooms; a cafeteria; gymnasium, and a “swimming tank”) relieved overcrowding. Cost $115,000.

1923: Norman Endicott awarded a Rhodes Scholarship; within a decade, two more Oakwood students received Rhodes scholarships.

1924: With 1,385 students, Oakwood was “strict and proud.” There was a strong military tradition; male teachers used their military titles. Students marched to class in pairs; boys shined their shoes. Church and religious services were part of daily activities. Boys’ and girls’ lockers were separate. Students played various team sports at Oakwood Stadium (corner of Oakwood and St. Clair). Between 1921 and 1927, the rugby team won every championship.

1927: Rotary system implemented. Oakwood began the first music program in a Toronto school, and was the first Toronto school to incorporate charitable work into the curriculum. Students prepared Christmas baskets for the needy. The Cadet Corps won a championship; the girls’ choir was deemed the best in Ontario; the school won the Ontario dance competition.

The 1930s:
1930: The Great Depression hit the neighbourhood hard. A tent city developed in a field north of the school. Tim Buck, general secretary of the Communist Party of Canada, lived nearby on Oakwood. Earlscourt Park at Lansdowne and St. Clair, where many evicted unemployed lived, was called “Pogey Park.” Some Oakwood students quit school to help support their families.

1931: Senior Literary Society disbanded; the Oracle went from twice to once-per-year publication.

1933: Hockey team championship. The Oracle sold for 50 cents.

Second World War (1939-1945):
The Oracle stopped publishing from 1943 to 1945. No graduating awards were formally handed out—the girls believed it would be unfair to the boys who were at war. Students knitted clothes for the troops. In 1942, Oakwood’s rifle team was considered the best in Canada. Names in the 1942 Oracle appeared just a few years later on the plaque of war dead.

The 1940s-1950s:
Many of the students at this time were Jewish. During high holidays, attendance in some classes dropped dramatically. In 1950, a performance of Pygmalion raised funds for the newly-formed UNICEF. An acapella choir, a current events club, and a stamp club flourished. The Cold War strengthened the cadet corps, which was invited to the Armory for inspection. (Oakwood still has a rifle range in its basement.) Between 1950 and 1957, contests judged girls on posture and poise; the boys had a cheerleading squad. In 1955, Oakwood was one of two schools in Toronto associated with UNESCO. In 1959, the new “old wing” added two modern science labs.

The 1960s:
Additions included a new cafeteria, a viewing gallery for the pool, an enlarged stage, and new seating. The 1969 dress code allowed blue jeans; pants for girls. Toronto’s first Model United Nations started at Oakwood.

The 1970s:
School dances temporarily stopped because of declining popularity. A basement smoking lounge for students was quickly shut down because of inappropriate behaviour. The Barons and Lady Barons were city champions at least once in every team sport. In 1975, junior girls won the city volleyball and basketball championships.

The 1980s:
Fundraising events to support: UNESCO; Bolivian foster children; Covenant House; and Toronto’s Ethiopian community.

1983: Student Kamari Clarke co-founded the first Afro-Canadian club in a Toronto high school.

1984: Oakwood Alumni Association formed

2012 Apr 30 to May 4: Hundreds gathered to celebrate Oakwood’s first 100 years.

2015 Jan: Oakwood was one of a cluster of schools to be reviewed over the next 10 years because of falling enrolment. (Capacity 1,008; enrolment 533)

Published history:
Oakwood: 75 years of excellence. Winnipeg, Man.: Josten’s, National School Services, 1983. 22 p.
100 years of excellence: Oakwood Collegiate Institute. Toronto: Oakwood Collegiate Institute, 2008. 32 p.

Website: Oakwood has much of its history online, including—on this site—an extensive list of the accomplishments of “Notable Former Students.”

Oakwood’s dead of the two World Wars are honoured in one large memorial.

Memorials Transcribed:
NOTE: For King and Country visited Oakwood Collegiate several times. The school displayed war memorials in at least three places—the ground floor across from the auditorium; the second floor near the school’s office; and the school library. In April 2008, the library began expanding to hold and catalogue archival materials.

The three bronze memorials to those who died in both World Wars are on the ground floor. The single WWI plaque is inset in the centre of the display. The two WWII plaques are on either side of the WWI plaque. Beneath the WWI plaque are photographs and text: centre: “In Flanders Fields;” left side: Vimy Ridge memorial—photo and description; right side: Juno Beach Centre—photo and description.

On the second floor, two A. J. Casson list the names of all former Oakwood staff and students who served in World War II.
Other materials, such as the photo displays of WWII students who died, are in the school’s library/archives.

OCI-SS-a: (WWI): Printed list: Honour Roll of OCI / students who died in / the war. Display case: 3” x 5” card in school museum. Rank followed by given names and surname.

OCI-SS-b: (WWI): Bronze plaque: Oakwood crest with dates 1914—1918. In honour of the brave sons of / Oakwood Collegiate Institute who fell in the Great War. Three columns. Given names followed by surname.

OCI-SS-c: (WWII): Bronze plaque: In grateful remembrance / of / Oakwood’s sons / who gave / their lives in World War II / 1939—1945. Two columns; one name at the bottom is displayed in the middle of the two columns. Given names followed by surname: Agnew to Jenkinson At the bottom: Freedom endures through sacrifice.

OCI-SS-d: (WWII): Bronze plaque: In grateful remembrance / of / Oakwood’s sons / who gave / their lives in World War II / 1939—1945. Two columns. Given names followed by surname: Kee to Winter. At the bottom: Freedom endures through sacrifice.

OCI-SS-e: (WWII): Illuminated list designed by A.J. Casson. “For King and Country / Members of / Oakwood Collegiate Institute / who have volunteered for active service / with / Canada’s fighting forces” Eights columns. Surnames followed by given names or initials. Below the main body of the memorial are five columns with six names each. Column i is headed “Girls.” (Armbrust, Edith to Walters, D.) A list headed “Boys” starts below the girls’ names. Includes notations re: medals, etc. Key: red cross indicates: died on active service; red circle indicates: prisoner of war; red asterisk indicates: missing. List does not specify which war, but the presence of women’s names, and the use of an A.J. Casson document, indicate World War II.

OCI-SS-f: (WWII): Illuminated list designed by A.J. Casson. “For King and Country / Members of / Oakwood Collegiate Institute / who have volunteered for active service / with / Canada’s fighting forces” Eights columns. Surnames followed by given names or initials. Column i is headed “Staff.” A list headed “Students” starts below the staff names. Includes notations re: medals, etc. Key: red cross indicates: died on active service; red circle indicates: prisoner of war; red asterisk indicates: missing. List does not specify which war, but the presence of women’s names, and the use of an A.J. Casson document, indicate World War II.

OCI-SS-g: (WWII): framed collection of 52 individual black and white photos. Five rows. First names followed by surname (Ross Agnew to Bruce N. Jenkins). No heading. No key. War not named, but uniforms indicate World War II.

OCI-SS-h: (WWII): framed collection of 53 individual black and white photos. Five rows. First names followed by surname (David Jenkinson to William Willison). No heading. No key. War not named, but uniforms indicate World War II.

Parkdale Collegiate Institute (PCI-SS)

Architect’s view of the 1888 Parkdale Collegiate Institute.

Location: 209 Jameson Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M6K 2Y3 (just south of Queen Street West; between Roncesvalles Avenue on the west and Lansdowne Avenue on the east)

Opened: 1888

Alternate or former names: Jameson Avenue High School; Parkdale High School; “The Jameson Avenue School”; Jameson Avenue Collegiate Institute (1890-1910); Jameson Collegiate Institute

Pre-1998 municipality: Town of Parkdale; Toronto

Type of school: Secondary

Parkdale—Toronto’s second oldest high school (after Jarvis Collegiate) has a strong tradition of scholarship, athletics, the arts (notably music and drama); extra-curricular activities, and community service. An early publication, Hesperus, was short-lived, but the yearbook Parkdalian took over reporting the school’s many activities. The community of Parkdale was founded as an independent settlement within York County in the 1850s. Incorporated as a village in 1879; annexed by Toronto on March 23, 1889. It is west of downtown Toronto. Bounded on the west by Roncesvalles Avenue; on the east by Dufferin Street (which was the early western limit of the city of Toronto); on the north by the Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway; on the south by Lake Ontario. When the Gardiner Expressway was built in 1955—partly demolishing or altering parts of Sunnyside Amusement Park, the CNE grounds, the Palais Royale and St. Joseph’s Hospital —Parkdale changed from an upper middle-class to a low-income area. Many spacious Victorian houses on lake-viewing streets of the former “flowery suburb” were divided into rental flats and rooms. Post-Second World War immigration began the transformation of a largely British early Parkdale into a multicultural community.

1888 Aug: Construction began.

1888 Sept: Town of Parkdale trustees opened Jameson Avenue High School in temporary quarters in the Masonic Hall at Queen Street West and Dowling Avenue. Registration: 80 students who paid four dollars per term. Toronto High School (now Jarvis Collegiate Institute) no longer had room for students from outside the city. West-end students, some of whom came from Mimico and Port Credit, needed their own school in order to complete matriculation for university admission. Principal: Dr. Luther Embree, who stayed until the Board transferred him to Jarvis in 1906 to revitalize that school. Dr. Embree designed the school crest, and chose the motto Let Knowledge Grow from More to More (from Tennyson’s 1848 poem “In Memoriam”). Nellie Spence, one of the first female secondary teachers in Toronto, began teaching that year. The school archives was later named in her honour.

1889 Mar 23: Parkdale annexed to Toronto.

1889 May: Registered students (130) occupied three floors of the Masonic Hall,

1889 Sept: Parkdale High School moved to its new building, a Victorian-Romanesque style school designed by George Martel Miller (1854-1953) who designed many Toronto buildings including Havergal Ladies College; Annesley Hall (residence at Victoria College); Wycliffe College, University of Toronto; Convocation Hall, and the Gladstone Hotel, also in Parkdale—built 1889; renovated 2005—Toronto’s oldest continuously operating hotel.

1890 Nov 4: Toronto Collegiate Institute Board decided that “the Jameson Avenue School” be designated “The Jameson Avenue Collegiate Institute.” By the end of this year, 358 students were registered under a staff of nine.

1910 Jan 5: Name changed to Parkdale Collegiate Institute.
World War I (1914-1918): More than 500 alumni enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and the Red Cross. Ninety-one died. Teacher Nellie Spence wrote to former students serving in the armed forces and preserved their stories. Shocked and saddened by the school’s 91 war casualties, she collected the biographies of the fallen, and published these in a volume entitled Their Name Liveth. (See: Published history below.) Staff and students formed fund-raising committees and created a knitting brigade to supply socks, scarves, and vests to “the boys overseas.”

1919 Mar 26: Toronto Globe reports a meeting held “last night” in the Collegiate’s Assembly Hall to plan a war memorial.

1928: Original Victorian building demolished.

1929: New (present) building, almost twice the size of the old building, completed for 900 students; 31 staff. The new gymnasium facilitated many sports such as volleyball and basketball, and featured an indoor (suspended) track—approximately 22 laps per mile—still used by staff and students more than 85 years later. School colours for “Parkdalians” are red, yellow, and black. The football team played under many names until settling on “Parkdale Panthers” in 1964.

Cited for bravery at St Eloi, Alan Barrie Duncan died two years later at Cambrai. Photo ©Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society

World War II (1939-1945): More than 750 Parkdale alumni served in the Canadian armed forces and the Merchant Navy. Brief biographies and photographs of the 71 who died were compiled for the school archives by a PCI committee. The cadet corps, inspected annually each May, included First Aid and Signal (semaphore and Morse Code) divisions, and rehearsed and trained regularly. A rifle and uniform were issued to each cadet.

1960s: The Second World War memorials were moved from outside the assembly hall (now the auditorium) in the front foyer, to the second floor. Memorials of both wars then formed a single war memorial.

1963: Two major additions completed.

1964 June 15: Cadet Corps disbanded.

1970s: The Literary Society, a body of staff and students founded by the first principal to direct debating, musical, and social activities, ended.

1988: Parkdale’s first female principal, Sheila Hambleton.

1989 May 5 to 7: Centennial Reunion.

1999: Stage in the auditorium expanded to include an apron for production of a made-for-TV movie. The original 600-seat capacity decreased somewhat. In early days, the auditorium, which has notably good acoustics, was known as the “assembly hall”; later named Hanson Hall after Kenneth J. Hanson, principal in the mid-1990s.

2000s: Pool closed in the early 2000s.

2005: New library completed, but the old library (Room 225) across from the war memorial retains some of the school’s earliest books, including those with the pre-1910 stamp: Jameson Avenue Collegiate Institute.

2014 May 2nd to 4th: Reunion and 125th anniversary.

2014 May 24 & 25: School participated in “Doors Open Toronto 2014.”

Published history:
Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800-1950:
Centennial Story: The Board of Education for the City of Toronto 1850-1950. Toronto: Thomas Nelson & Sons (Canada) Limited, 1950. Prepared by the staff of the board under the direction of E.A. Hardy. Honora M. Cochrane, editor. 306 p: ill.
Their Name Liveth: a Memoir of the Boys of Parkdale Collegiate Institute, who gave their lives in the great war, Toronto, Ontario: Parkdale Collegiate Institute, 1920, 117 p: ill. (Available as a hard copy Nabu reprint, and electronically at: namelivethm00toro)
Laycock, Margaret and Barbara Myrvold. Parkdale in Pictures. Toronto Public Library Board History Handbook No. 7, 1991. 64 p: 71 b & w illus.
Parkdale: A Centennial History, 1978. Parkdale Centennial Research Committee.72 p.
Maize, W. John. Parkdale Collegiate Institute: a concise history 1888-2014. Typescript. 4 pages, 2014. (W. John Maize was Head of History, Canadian and World Studies, and archivist of the Nellie Spence Archive Room at Parkdale Collegiate Institute; retired 2013.)
Parkdale C.I. 1888-1988. ill. 160 pp. (pp. 151-152 list former students killed in the two World Wars.)
Parkdale Collegiate Institute Reunion programme, October 16, 1965,
Skeoch, Alan, ed. I Remember Parkdale, Parkdale Centennial publication, 1989.
Spence, Nellie. “P.C.I. Semi-centennial” (pp. 18-21) in The Parkdalian : Fiftieth Anniversary, vol. 15, 1938-1939.
Spence, Nellie. Some young immortals. 32 p. Reprinted from The Canadian magazine, 1920.
Spence, Nellie. “The schoolboy in the war.” [A memoir of Alan Barrie Duncan, 1898-1918] The Canadian magazine: Vol. 52, no. 3 (Jan. 1919) Toronto: Ontario Pub. Co., [1919] pp. 755-761. Also available in microfiche: CIHM/ICMH Microfiche series: no. 97667 (17 fr.).

Parkdale Alumni Association

All Parkdale Collegiate Institute’s war memorials were combined into one display in 1968. Photo ©Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society

Memorials transcribed:
NOTE: Parkdale’s war memorials were originally in two separate places. In 1968, a combined memorial for both World Wars was designed and placed on the second floor.

PCI-SS-a (WWI): Bronze plaque headed: Faithful (PCI) unto death. Under the list of names: In Memory / of the boys of this / school who gave their / lives in the Great War / Their name liveth for evermore. Three columns; given names followed by surnames. Originally installed in the entranceway of the “old” school in 1921. Moved to the front hallway of the “new” school in 1929.

PCI-SS-b (WWII): Illuminated list designed by A. J. Casson. “For King and Country / 1939 Members of 1945 / Parkdale Collegiate Institute / who have volunteered for active service / with / Canada’s fighting forces.” Six columns. Surnames followed by given names. This memorial begins with Abbot, Frances and ends with Langford. Alan. Key: (red ink cross) “Marks the names of those who were killed in the war.” In 1989, the PCI Centennial Committee restored this memorial.

PCI-SS-c (WWII): Illuminated list designed by A. J. Casson. “For King and Country / 1939 Members of 1945 / Parkdale Collegiate Institute / who have volunteered for active service / with / Canada’s fighting forces.” Six columns. Surnames followed by given names. This memorial begins with Laphen, John and ends with Young, Florence, and Webster, Lester. Key: (red ink cross) “Marks the names of those who were killed in the war.” In 1989, the PCI Centennial Committee restored this memorial.

PCI-SS-d (WWII): Bronze plaque: 1939 (maple leaf) 1945. One column. Surnames followed by given names (Adams, Wilbert to Knight, Alan). Parkdale crest and motto: Let Knowledge Grow from More to More. Although this memorial does not specify death in words, its placement on the left side of the memorial to WWI dead, indicates death. Also, the names listed here appear on the A.J. Casson memorial with a red cross indicating “The names of those who were killed in the war.” Originally installed in front of the assembly hall (the auditorium) in 1948.

PCI-SS-e (WWII): Bronze plaque: 1939 (maple leaf) 1945. One column. Surnames followed by given names (Lewis, Edward to Yeats, Lionel). “So Long as / Parkdale / Shall / Endure / These / Shall Be Revered.” Although this memorial does not specify death, its placement on the right side of the memorial to WWI dead, indicates death. Also, the names listed here appear on the A.J. Casson memorial with a red cross indicating “the names of those who were killed in the war.” Originally installed in front of the assembly hall (the auditorium) in 1948.

PCI-SS-f (WWI): Copy of recommendation. Hand-written in ink: Canadian Infantry Brigade 4th Canadian Division Frank’s Force Sep. 18th, 1916, Unit 75 Canadian Inf. Bn. Name and rank Lieut. Alan Barrie Duncan. Action for which commended: For conspicuous gallantry at St. Eloi on 17-9-16. When a raid on the enemy trenches being proposed and a gap in the enemy wire having been supposedly cut during the day, by our artillery fire, he undertook to examine the enemy’s wire and locate the gap. He was absent in No Man’s Land from dusk until midnight, most of the time skirting the enemy wire in bright moonlight, and finally succeeded in locating the break, and returned to advise the raiders. He guided the raiding party successfully to the break in the wire and, although not called upon to do so, took part in the raid on the German trenches, and performed conspicuous work in encouraging and directing the men. (Signed) Lt. Col. S. G. Beckett. Below the copy of the recommendation is a photograph of Captain Duncan.

PCI-SS-g (WWI): Framed obituary: Duncan, Capt. Alan Barrie, M. C., 75th Bn. Canadian Inf. (1st Central Ontario Regt.) 29th Sept., 1918, Age 20. Son of the Rev. George Petrie Duncan, of St. Andrew’s Manse, Port Credit, Ontario, and the late Helena Vivia Duncan (nee Goodwin). His brother, Captain George Gordon Duncan, had died on active service in 1915.

PCI-SS-h (WWI): Framed photographs: (a) Gravestone: Captain / Alan Barrie Duncan, M. C. / 75th Bn. Canadian Inf. / 29th September 1918. Age 20; (b) view of three rows of gravestones; (c) large memorial cross. Caption below these photographs reads: Cantimpre Canadian Cemetery (Sailly, France) / Burial place of Captain Alan Barrie Duncan, M. C. 75th Bn. C. E. F. / Alan attended Parkdale Collegiate Institute from 1911 to 1916 / (photos by J. Maize, July 2010).

PCI-SS-i (WWI): Framed display of five World War I medallions, including two examples of a “dead man’s penny.” These were issued to the next-of-kin of all British and Empire service personnel who died in the war.

PCI-SS-j: (all veterans): Framed commercial “For Valour” poster: Commemorating the sixteen Canadian servicemen awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery during World War Two 1939-1945. A brass plaque at the bottom reads: Presented to / W. Magee and J. Murray / in honour of all P.C.I. veterans / 2001-2002.

Riverdale Collegiate Institute (RCI-SS)

Riverdale Collegiate Institute, Toronto, May 2010. ©Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society

1094 Gerrard Street East, Toronto, Ontario  M4M 2A1 (north side of Gerrard, between Jones Avenue and Leslie Street)

Opened: 1907

Alternate or former names: Riverdale High School

Pre-1998 municipality: City of Toronto

Ward during WWI: Ward 2

Ward during WWII: Ward 1

Type of school: Secondary

1907: Riverdale Business Men’s Association encouraged the Toronto Board of Education to build a school on Gerrard Street. Riverdale High School opened with four teachers. Original building had principal’s office, library, four classrooms and two science rooms. By second and third years, classes had to be held in the cloakrooms.

1910: first addition completed.

1914: name changed to Riverdale Collegiate Institute.

Further additions were added in 1914, 1922, and 1924, following the architect’s original plan for the expansion of the school.

Published history: Centennial story: the Board of Education for the City of Toronto, 1850–1950, ed. H. M. Cochrane (Toronto, 1950), p.152.

Web sites:

War Memorials in atrium of Riverdale Collegiate Institute. ©Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society

Memorials transcribed:
RCI-SS-a: (WWI) Bronze decorative plaque: To the memory of / the boys of this / school who gave / their lives in the / Great War 1914–1918. Two columns. Column i – first names followed by surnames. Column ii – place of death.

RCI-SS-b: (WWII) Bronze plaque: 1939 (school insignia) 1945 / There’s none of these so lonely and poor of old / but, dying, has made us rarer gifts then gold. Three columns. First names followed by surnames (A-L).

RCI-SS-c: (WWII) Bronze plaque: 1939 (school insignia) 1945 / There’s none of these so lonely and poor of old / but, dying, has made us rarer gifts then gold. Three columns. First names followed by surnames (M-Y).

RCI-SS-d: (WWII) Framed under glass. Individual black and white photos arranged in seven columns. List of names (A-L) under each column.

RCI-SS-e: (WWII) Framed under glass. Individual black and white photos arranged in seven columns. List of names (M-Y) under each column.

NOTE: Riverdale Collegiate Institute’s five memorials list only those who died.  They are displayed in the new atrium, which was added in the 1990s and incorporates the original school’s façade.

Runnymede Collegiate Institute (RUN-SS)

Bronze plaque commemoration the 1927 York Twp. School Board. ©Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society

Location: 569 Jane Street, Toronto (York) Ontario M6S 4A3 (east side of Jane Street; south of St. Clair Avenue West)

Opened: 1927

Alternate or former names: Runnymede High School

Pre-1998 municipality: City of York

Type of School: Secondary

In 1838, John Scarlett, owner of one of the mills along the Humber River, and of a tract of land north of Bloor Street West and west of Keele Street, built a large wooden house near the western corner of his property—roughly Keele Street and Dundas Street West. The north-south road leading to his house was Elizabeth Street, later renamed Runnymede Road. He called his house “Runnymede” after the meadow in England where King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215. Modern Runnymede is north of Bloor Street West, between Jane Street on the west; Runnymede Road on the east; Dundas Street West on the north. Early development was slow, but steady, compared to neighbouring Lambton, as there was no main industry such as the mills Lambton had. Establishing area elementary schools did not seem essential until the turn of the century.

1924 Sept 24: Continuation Class established at Vaughan Road Public School (School Section No. 15) under Miss Clementine Magee. In 1925, the township advanced $5,000 for a frame structure to be built at the rear of the school. Miss Magee then became principal to a staff of three teachers and approximately 100 students.

1926 Feb 5: York Township High School Board appointed. Inaugural meeting February 27. Before 1926, York Township high school students attended Weston High and Vocational School and Toronto’s nearest collegiate institutes.

1927 Sept 6: Runnymede High School built on Jane Street, north of St. John’s Road, on land that had belonged to John Scarlett, taking the name from his estate. Classes began with 251 students and 10 teachers—six male; four female—under Principal Bruce W. Clark. Four of the teachers had their M.A.s—the requisite number for a collegiate institute offering Grade 13. (NOTE: In Canada, beginning in 1871, “collegiate institute” referred to a school offering courses for university-bound students. Runnymede Collegiate was and is often referred to as Runnymede High School interchangeably, as far as our research can determine. J.C. Boylen’s book cited below, states that Runnymede was designated a collegiate institute in 1928. Appendix C “School Construction in York Township” first uses the name Runnymede Collegiate Institute in 1930.)

1927 Nov 11: Official opening in the evening. The ceremonies were part of celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee of Canadian Confederation. Two school websites list as the architect Charles Wellington Smith, who lived in one of the cottages on the west side of Jane, south of Dundas, but although Smith designed York Memorial Collegiate Institute (built 1929) the Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800-1950 credits Henry John Burden as architect of Runnymede High School. J.C. Boylen also records the architects as Burden and Gouinlock. Eight classrooms; three science labs over the auditorium and opposite the second-floor library; a cafeteria (facing Jane Street) and locker area on three floors. Stained glass windows in the auditorium; glass doors on library shelves. Below the auditorium was the gymnasium with an indoor track and viewing gallery. Offices were inside the main entrance, opposite the auditorium. (See website links below for further details of the school’s plan.) Principal Clark, hired from Humberside, took the job on condition that he have a free hand running the school on an “honour system.” He loved football and gave students Friday afternoons off in the fall to attend the senior games—township games at Oakwood Stadium; playoffs at Crang Stadium on St. Clair Avenue West. There are several suggestions for the school’s choice of red and white colours: from Scarlett’s name; from the flag of England’s patron saint—St George; from the school’s opening just two months after the Canada’s Diamond Jubilee—July 1, 1927; red and white were approved as Canada’s official colours in the proclamation of her coat of arms in 1921. Students’ red and white jackets led to the name “Redmen” in the 1930s—the name perhaps coined by newspaper reporters. (Other names were Crimson Bombers, as the early football jerseys were more crimson than red; Runnymede Ironmen; the Jane Street Boys; the Scarlett Rockets; the Junction Boys.) During the Depression, the football players’ sweaters were red only—a solid colour was cheaper to produce than two colours. In time, an Indian head logo was adopted to go with the name. The Redmen name and logo were retired in 1994 “out of respect for the native people of Canada.” Replaced by Runnymede Ravens. Continuing the Runnymede theme, the school’s yearbook was named Magna Charta.

1928: Addition of four classrooms and a (second) gymnasium for girls. Teacher Donald Graham introduced lacrosse. Of 278 male students, 250 played with and owned sticks by 1931.

1928: School designated a collegiate institute—Runnymede Collegiate Institute—though the name Runnymede High School continues to be used.

1930: Eight classrooms added.

1939-1945: World War II brought Emergency Measures and Air Raid Protection drills during which wardens checked for blackness; illumination inside the school came from green lights. Some male teachers left for the military or civilian war work.

1957/1958: Addition of swimming pool, auditorium, more classrooms, and offices. The field and track were diminished.

1966: Addition of large gymnasium, 16 classrooms, and a field to the south. In June, Grade 13 students wrote their Departmental Exams in the unfinished gym.

1972: The Royal Canadian Legion Maple Leaf Branch #266 began awarding an annual scholarship. List of recipients up to 2002 displayed in main hall.

2002 May: School’s 75th anniversary. Wall of Fame instituted. At Commencement each year, a graduate who has had success in any field is honoured with a photograph and brief description of notable achievements.

2004 Jan 24: Colonel M.D. Hodgson writes from Kabul, Afghanistan, to thank students for letters and cards sent as part of Canadian government’s ongoing “Write to the Troops” campaign. Included is a large illustrated thank you card with signatures and messages from soldiers of “Operation Athena August 2003-February 2004.”

2013: Building now comprises 30 classrooms, a swimming pool, two gyms, computer labs, a drama studio, and a large cafeteria.

Thank-you card to students at Runnymede Collegiate, Toronto, from Canadian troops in Afganistan during “Operation Athena” 2003–2004. ©Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society

Published histories:
Boylen, J.C. York Township: an Historical Summary 1850—1954. [Toronto]: The Municipal Corporation of the Township of York and The Board of Education of the Township of York, 1954. 131 p.: ill. Appendix B: Collegiate Institute Boards; Public School Boards. Appendix C: School Construction in York Township.

Runnymede Collegiate Institute celebrates 75 Years of History: 1927-2002. [Toronto : The Collegiate Institute, 2002.] 87 p.: ill., ports.

Thomas, Wilbert G. The Legacy of York: a Survey of the Early Development of the Communities of York. (York, Ont. : Historical Committee of the City of York, c1992] 96 p. : ill.

Websites: Includes photos of original school; additions; present school
Detailed descriptions of the school from 1927 to the present: list of principals, vice principals, and the first teaching staff. Under “Redmen,” sports teams of the 1920s to 1940s are listed in detail, with players’ names, championships, etc.

Memorials transcribed:
RUN-SS-a: (WWII and Korea): Ship’s bell on polished plinth. “HMCS Runnymede 1944.” On a bronze plate under the bell “In Memoriam.” Two columns (33 names in each column). At the end of col ii: Currie, Alistair (Korea). (The H.M.C.S. Runnymede, a World War II, 300-foot long river class frigate of the Royal Canadian Navy, was named for Runnymede—the area, or the collegiate itself—opinions vary. Commissioned on June 14, 1944. Lieutenant R.C. Chenowith commanded a crew of eight officers and 125 men. The ship served as a convoy escort and U-boat hunter until August 9, 1945.)

RUN-SS-b: (WWII) Plaque: blue background; pewter-coloured inscription. (Ontario coat of arms) / Corporal Frederick George Topham. V.C. / 1917-1974 / Born in Toronto, Topham was educated here before working in / the mines at Kirkland Lake. He enlisted on August 3, 1942, / and served at home and abroad as a medical orderly. On March / 24, 1945, while serving with the 1st Canadian Parachute Bat- / talion, he defied heavy enemy fire to treat casualties sustained / in a parachute drop east of the Rhine, near Wesel. Rejecting / treatment for his own severe face wound, he continued to / rescue the injured for six hours. While returning to his com- / pany, he saved three occupants of a burning carrier which / was in danger of exploding. For these exceptional deeds, / Topham was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest decor / ation for valour in the British Commonwealth. / Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, Ministry of Culture and Recreation. (This plaque is outside the school, on the east side of Jane Street, just south of Dundas Street West. See: King George School on this website for more about Frederick Topham, including the complete wording of his Victoria Cross citation.)

RUN-SS-c: Framed photograph of H.M.C.S. Runnymede. Inset is a plaque held by a naval lieutenant. Inscription: This tablet is here placed by the / Corporation of the Township of York on / behalf of its citizens, in grateful tribute / to the self-sacrifice and devotion of all / who serve on His Majesty’s Canadian Ship / RUNNYMEDE / It is our humble prayer that God may go / with this ship and her gallant crew as / she sails the seas in defence of right / and freedom / June 17, 1944. At the bottom of the photograph: Lieutenant John E. Henderson holds a dedication plaque for the Canadian ship the Runnymede / which was named after Runnymede Collegiate Institute. (Wilbert G. Thomas, cited above, says the plaque commemorating H.M.C.S. Runnymede’s commission was on display in the City of York’s offices in 1992.)

York Memorial Collegiate Institute (YMC-SS)

Doors are up two flights of steps, under elaborately carved archway, with bay window and crenalated turrets above.
Entrance to York Memorial Collegiate Institute, Toronto. ©Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society

Location: 2690 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto, Ontario M6M 1T9 (north side of Eglinton Avenue West; west of Keele Street)

Opened: 1929

Alternate or former names: “Memo” (informal)

Pre-1998 municipality: York

Type of school: Secondary

School motto: Macte Nova Virtute (Go forth with new strength). School teams are the Mustangs; school colours are red and gold. Previously, Mount Dennis students mainly went to Weston High and Vocational School (later Weston Collegiate Institute). The whole school is a memorial to the York citizens who died in the Great War. Built of Don Valley brick and smooth faded stone. The towers on either side of the main entrance have a military appearance. The terraced steps lead to a broad landing, followed by 11 steps symbolizing the 11th hour; the 11th day; the11th month when peace was declared after World War I. Four solid oak and plate-glass entrance doors. The school name is carved in script over the main entrance. Other carved symbols include torches of remembrance, shields of honour, grapes, acorns, oak leaves, pine cones, and ferns. There are four World War II memorials to the dead in the main hall: two oak panels of names; two framed sets of individual photos. There is also a memorial to a student who died while still attending the school, and a photo and copy of the citation of a former York Memorial student awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. (See under “Memorials transcribed” below.) Names of the dead are read at Remembrance Day services. Inside the auditorium are stained-glass windows, including one of the World War I battle of Ypres; the other of the death of Wolfe in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, 1759. The inscription reads “For God and country.”

1926: York High School Board formed. (Vaughan Road Collegiate built 1926; Runnymede Collegiate built 1927.)

1929: The Township of York decided to build an institution of higher learning in memory of youth killed in the First World War. Architect: Charles Wellington Smith (1877-1973) whose family had lived in the Township (later the Borough) of York since 1872. From 1921 until 1959, Smith designed four secondary and 11 public schools for York Township. In 1936, he designed Valley Halla, a 23-room private home for Dr. Robert Jackson, developer of an early health cereal, Dr. Jackson’s Roman Health Meal. The house still stands in the Rouge Valley (near the Metro Zoo) on lands owned by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). Sometimes used for films, such as HBO’s Grey Gardens and for private functions.

1929 Feb 23: Building began on a site of nine and one half acres at Eglinton Avenue West and Trethewey Drive, purchased from the estate of W.G. Trethewey.

1929 May 6: Sir William Mulock (at the time Chief Justice of Ontario and Chancellor of the University of Toronto) laid the cornerstone. The Royal Canadian Legion branches of Mount Dennis and Silverthorn helped prepare records of the York enlistments and dead of the Great War to place in the cornerstone. (Not clear if copies of these records exist.)

1929 Sept: School completed and occupied.

Framed shadow box with architect's master key and photo of his house at 602 Jane St.
Tribute to C.W. Smith, long-time resident of York and architect of York Memorial Collegiate institute, Toronto.

1930 Jan 30: Sir William Mulock officially opened and dedicated the building. Fifteen classrooms, three science labs, an auditorium, cafeteria, two gymnasia, a swimming pool with underwater lighting, and administrative offices. Twelve teachers; 303 students. The first principal, John Wesley Ansley, served until 1949.

1935: High enrolments in York’s three collegiate institutes forced the introduction of a “stagger system.”

1936: The Collegiate Institute Board and the Public School Board united to form the York Township Board of Education. The 11 members held their first meeting in York Memorial Collegiate Institute.

1949 Feb 27: Second World War memorial dedicated.

1950: The York Board of Education moved its administrative offices to leased premises at 365 Weston Road, freeing space for school use.

1954: Board office buildings, adjoining the school, and near the township offices, were completed. The area of Eglinton Avenue West and Keele Street thus became the administrative centre of York Township.

1999: Advanced Placement courses, offering a wide range of classes in music, drama, and visual arts, began.

2014 May 23-24: 85th anniversary celebrations.

Published history:
Thomas, Wilbert G. The Legacy of York: (a survey of the early development of the communities of York.) York, Ont. : Historical Committee of the City of York, c1992. 96 p. See: Mount Dennis Community pp. 45-59.
Boylen, J.C. York Township: An historical summary. Municipal Corporation of the Township of York and the Board of Education of the Township of the Township of York, 1954.

Web sites: (A gallery of photos includes the main hall war memorials and murals, and the stained-glass windows in the auditorium.)

Memorials transcribed:
YMC-SS-a: (WWII) oak panel designed by Thoreau Macdonald. In Memoriam / 1939 – 1945. Two colums. Given names followed by surnames (James Arthur to David McIntyre). No key.

YMC-SS-b: (WWII) oak panel designed by Thoreau Macdonald. In Memoriam / 1939 – 1945. Two columns. Given names followed by surnames (Douglas McLean to John Wallace). No key.

YMC-SS-c: (WWII) framed individual black and white photographs. Names (in alphabetical order) and ages printed under each photo (James Arthur to David McIntyre). In the centre of the photos is the outline of a cross with the words: Lest We Forget.”

YMC-SS-d: (WWII & Korea) framed individual black and white photographs. Names (in alphabetical order) and ages printed under each photo ((Douglas McLean to Fred Wood). In the centre of the photos is the outline of a cross with the words: Lest We Forget.”
YMC-SS-e: (WWII) framed black and white photo with a stylized coloured mat headed “Whom the King Honoureth.” Underneath is a ribbon with the words: British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Below the photo: Flight Lieutenant Harry Deane MacDonald / Distinguished Flying Cross / This pilot, who has participated in a very large number of sorties, is described as an excellent / flight commander. “In addition to destroying five enemy aircraft, Flight Lieutenant MacDonald / has damaged three locomotives and executed vigorous attacks on other targets” states his citation. / He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in August, 1940, at Toronto, where his home is located.

Black and white photo, head and shoulders, of officer in RCAF uniform.
Flight Officer R.W. Russell died in 1953, while still a student at York Memorial Collegiate Institute, Toronto.

YMC-SS-f: (Peace Time) framed photo. Printed underneath photo: F/O R. W. Russell / 400 Squadron (Reserve) R.C.A.F. / who died on Canada’s service / Nov. 29th 1953 / while still a pupil at this school. Further information about F/O Russell.

YMC-SS-g: (WWII) Three-piece mural by Canadian artist John Hall, in the main rotunda at the entrance to the auditorium. The centre panel represents the family and community life which the men fought to preserve. The left panel suggests the sciences; the right panel depicts the arts. The artist has made his pictures symbolical rather than anecdotal. Partly paid for by a student council penny fund; subscriptions from staff, school board, and individuals completed the amount. Students had earlier raised hundreds of dollars for the war effort. Dedicated 27 Feb 1949, by former war padres: Rev. J. C. Clough, Rev A. J. Jackson and Rev. D. P. Rowland, MC. Blanche Snell, head of art department; Grant Woodward, president of the student council, and J. W. Ansley, principal, also took part in the ceremony.

YMC-SS-h: (WWI) plaque located outside the school: York Memorial / Collegiate Institute / “This school was constructed / as a memorial institute of / higher learning to commemorate / the youth of the York / community who gave their lives / for the cause of peace and freedom, that it may remain / forever a hallowing of their / memory and serve each generation of youth to follow.”

YMC-SS-i: (WWII) Tryptych stained-glass windows designed by Will Meike; fabricated by Robert McCausland Glassworks. The glass is set in squared frames of smooth-finished stone with cast bronze lamps at either side, in Tiffany-style opalescent shades.