Saturday, 22 September 2012

Caroline vs. COTC

Hi there, just a quick update before I get back to posting about the whirlwind that has been the past six weeks!

On September 10th, the anniversary of the day Canada declared war on Germany in 1939, I attended a plaque dedication ceremony to celebrate the University of Toronto's involvement with the Canadian Officers Training Corps (COTC).  The COTC had a home on U of T's campus, at 119 St. George St., now part of Woodsworth College; from 1939 through 1968, the building held the Drill Hall, headquarters and training facilities for students willing to temporarily set their studies aside and step up in defense of their country, both at home and abroad.

Robert Spencer, a former professor at U of T, as well as a commanding officer (1962-1966), current Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Toronto Contingent, COTC, and my awesome grandfather, worked hard with the College and the University to install a plaque, ensuring that students wouldn't forget this important part of U of T's history.  There was a small gathering of former members of the COTC and members of the U of T community to witness the dedication, and we heard from Professor Spencer, U of T's President David Naylor, and Rear Admiral JJ Bennett of the Royal Canadian Navy before JJ and Captain John Larke, former cadet and contingent officer, unveiled the plaque.

I was very please to be able to attend, and hope that, once the plaque has been relocated to its permanent home in front of 119 St. George St., that passers by will take a moment to read it, and appreciate the work done by the COTC to ensure the security of our nation, in times of both war and uneasy peace.

Here are a couple photos I took, and one by the event photographer Jon Horvatin.  More of the official photos right this way.  If you also want to read President Naylor's speech, it was transcribed onto the U of T website here.

Here I am with my Grandfather, with Gary Knopf, Signals Officer (Ret.) in the background (photo by Jon Horvatin)
Unveiling the plaque
The plaque in its temporary home in the garden

The plaque reads:

119 St. George Street

Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, this fine 1892 house was purchased by the Board of Governors for the University of Toronto Contingent, Canadian Officers Training Corps (COTC).  Together with the Drill Hall built that summer, it provided accommodation for a headquarters and other facilities where, during six years of war and the uneasy peace which followed, thousands of University of Toronto students and graduated received their initial officer training before serving Canada overseas and at home.

Erected on 10 September 2012 by the COTC Board of Trustees, with the support od the Ontario Heritage Trust

xx, C.