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U of T to mark Remembrance Day with virtual ceremonies

(Photo by Johnny Guatto)

John Kenneth Macalister, a University College graduate in law, was a Rhodes Scholar studying at the University of Oxford when the Second World War broke out.

He turned down a job offer at the University of New Brunswick to serve in the Canadian infantry. Assigned to British intelligence, he parachuted behind enemy lines with Frank Pickersgill, a fellow U of T graduate.

Both were captured and killed at Buchenwald concentration camp.

Macalister and Pickersgill are among the 557 U of T students, staff and alumni who died between 1939 to 1945. Another 628 people with ties to U of T gave their lives during the First World War.

On Nov. 11, U of T will be marking Remembrance Day in honour of soldiers and veterans, including the students, faculty, alumni and staff who died in the world wars and other conflicts.

The ceremony on the St. George campus – normally held outside Soldiers’ Tower, which stands as a memorial to those who lost their lives in combat – is being held remotely this year due to limits on gathering sizes and construction in the area.

Here is how each campus plans to mark Remembrance Day:

St. George


A live-streamed Remembrance Day ceremony is set to begin at 10:30 a.m. this Thursday with a carillon prelude by carillonneur Roy Lee. Although it is not possible to attend in person, everyone is welcome to participate virtually.

Words of welcome will be followed by a recital of “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae, a Canadian officer, surgeon and U of T graduate in medicine who died of meningitis and pneumonia while on active duty in 1918.

U of T President Meric Gertler, Chancellor Rose Patten and U of T Scarborough Vice-President and Principal Wisdom Tettey will lay wreaths, though the event will not be open to the public.

The university leaders will be joined by representatives from government, the Canadian Armed Forces and U of T alumni, as well as Hart House Warden John Monahan and U of T Students’ Union President Alexa Ballis.


U of T Mississauga


Vice-President and Principal Alexandra Gillespie is expected to open an online Remembrance Day ceremony streamed live on Microsoft Teams beginning at 10:45 a.m..

There will be a reading of “In Flanders Fields,” followed by a laying of wreaths, performance of “Last Post” and a moment of silence.


U of T Scarborough


U of T Scarborough is not holding a ceremony this year due to indoor gathering restrictions.

Instead, community members are encouraged to join Tettey, vice-president and principal of U of T Scarborough, at the St. George virtual ceremony.

There will, however, be a wreath display at the Meeting Place on Nov. 11 for community members to pay their respects.