From the Archives: War Memorial Volume

2022 marks 100 years since the publication of The War Memorial Volume of Trinity College, Toronto. In order to commemorate the contributions Trinity College graduates made to the First World War effort, the indefatigable A.H. Young, Dean of Residence, and W.A. Kirkwood, Registrar, set out to document the actions and commendations of as many members of college as they could find. The resulting 165 page volume is a meticulously researched artefact that demonstrates the wide-ranging effect the war had on the wider college community.

Many listed were graduates of the Trinity Medical College or from our Faculty of Divinity, serving overseas as combat physicians or chaplains, respectively. Those who were younger, especially those who were still students when they enlisted, served in combat roles and the volume includes details such as battles they fought in and specifics of injuries sustained. The volume is organized by graduating class, and within that alphabetically. It includes photographs of those listed where available (the glass-slide negatives are also in the archives), and a glossary of abbreviations.

On this Remembrance Day, as time passes and we become further and further removed from the events and horrors of the World Wars, documents like The War Memorial Volume illustrate the real-world impact conflicts can have on a community like Trinity College. Simultaneously, it also shows the out-sized impact Trinity College had on the war effort.

While the closing paragraphs of the volume’s introduction were written 100 years ago, and certain sentiments resonate differently now than they did back in their historical context, Young’s and Kirkwood’s final sentiments are worth repeating here:

“Amid the turmoil of the times, it is not easy to find out whether they think it worth while to have followed the course they chose. Probably, if necessity again arises in their lifetime, they will do as they have already done, for the sake of Canada, the Empire, and humanity. To all of them, apparently, all three mean much more than they did even in 1914.

Of all we are proud. They have borne themselves in such fashion as to make still more worthy the traditions of the College, founded by a militant Bishop, in the face of great difficulties, to provide a constant succession of men who shall serve God in Church and in State.”

Copies of The War Memorial Volume are available for consultation in the Trinity College Archives.

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