Q3. Who were the Boys of Malvern and how many of them did not make it home? (P14)
Celebrating MalvernitesBy Beth Parker
Over 100 years of honour in art, music, sports, academics and service to country
What do a Hollywood film director, an internationally acclaimed painter, a world famous musician, a popular TV host, a Rhodes Scholar, an Olympic medal winner, a Toronto mayor, rocket scientist and an opera singer all have in common? Answer – they all attended Malvern Collegiate in the Beaches. It’s not surprising that our gem of a community should be synonymous with a gem of such a long-standing learning institution. Since the school building opened in 1906, thousands of bright, talented young men and women, who refer to themselves as “Malvernites”, have walked the corridors of this venerable high school.
Many already showed great promise while attending Malvern, such as in 1961 when the high school won its first track and field championship, thanks partly to the contribution of Bruce Kidd on the team (who later went on to compete in the Olympics). Norman Jewison staged and performed both musicals and dramas as a student there. The late Canadian painter, Doris McCarthy, served on the editorial board of the school yearbook.
After graduation, Malvern’s alumni have attained prominent business positions and made major achievements as athletes, film and TV stars, musicians, painters, writers and politicians. Malvern even produced two Rhodes scholars Tom Harpur and Mathew Jocelyn.
About the Building
the early 20th century, so did the need for schools. In 1903, a high school was established in the one-storey building vacated by the Mary Street (now Kimberley), Public School, but, two years later, the school board asked the town council for funds to build a proper high school. A site on Malvern Avenue was acquired (the south-west corner which had been the site of the East Toronto Lawn Tennis Club) and on January 3, 1906, the new building of four rooms and an assembly hall on the third floor was ready for occupancy. There were 128 students and 4 staff.
Malvern has seen several renovations and additions over the years. In 1987, an impressive two-storey addition of a library and cafeteria was added to the 1929 west ‘front’ of the school by the architect firm of Peter Hamilton. The carved stone surrounding the existing main entranceway was relocated to the new curved front to serve as an arched opening for the first floor library and a frame for the relocated war memorial. The materials, details and coursing lines pay homage to the existing building, and in some instances, older material was reused, for example, the original stone-front steps were re-used as patio benches.
The Boys of Malvern
One of the most honoured groups of Malvernites are those who served in World War I and World War II.
Activities at Malvern turned to supportting the war effort shortly after war broke out in Europe in 1914. The girls knitted and took lessons in first-aid; in 1919, the “Maids of Malvern” adopted and for some years provided for a French war orphan, Roger Barrère.
Malvern graduates and students also volunteered for service, including one of the teachers, Mr. Wood. These young people became members of the famed Canadian Corps where as volunteers they served for the first time in Canada’s history as Canadians, not British or French. They fought at Vimy Ridge, which marked the first conclusive offensive allied victory of the war, to The Hundred Days, which ended the war.
In the end, twenty-five young people lost their lives in W.W.I. These were young boys, most of whom weren’t even old enough to vote.
Remembering the “Lost” Boys
Imagine what it must have felt like in the community after these students didn’t return home. To ensure that they were never forgotten, in 1920, graduates, students and teachers raised $3,400 (equivalent to $40,000 today) to erect the Boys of Malvern monument. The monument was unveiled on May 19, 1922, by Ontario Premier, G.S. Henry.
Over 1,100 graduates and students (including women), joined along with 13 teachers to also fight in W.W.II, 1939 to 1945. The students at home supported war efforts by buying war stamps and savings bonds, sending boxes at Christmas time overseas and raised enough funds to provide for a jeep and a mobile canteen.
Restoring the Honour
Time has taken its toll on the monument. The hand and sword were broken, the foundation was crumbling and the names inscribed on the stone were barely legible. A project to restore the Malvern Collegiate War Memorial raised $50,000 to return the statue to its original beauty, from alumni, parents and the community as well as grants from Veterans Affairs and the Toronto District School Board. Work started this past spring, with an unveiling this November 4.
Following Word War II, a beautiful Book of Remembrance was inscribed and illuminated by Doris McCarthy and bound in hand-tooled red Morocco by Madeleine Glenn Bennett, both artists and graduates of Malvern.
Remembrance Day is an important part of the school year and veterans often return to speak at the school. In the spring of 2009, a group of students from Malvern made a pilgrimage to the Canadian War Cemetery close to the Invasion Beaches of Northern France. A few years ago a grade 10 student wrote this poem about “the boys’:
They were very young
They laughed and they cried
They fought and they died
Not for king, queen or flag
But for each other
They were The Boys of Malvern
“Repairing a broken war statue to honour the lost 'boys of Malvern’”, CBC, November 2010 Malvern Red and Black Society Toronto District School Board Musings, Malvern CI, Spring 2011 Boys of Malvern Project
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