For most students currently at McGill, the concept of going off to war with thousands of their peers would be unthinkable. Yet, for students attending McGill from 1914 to 1918 and again between 1939 and 1945, this was the horrible reality they faced. McGill made tremendous contributions to both World Wars. By the end of World War I, more than 3,000 McGill men and women had enlisted, and 363 had lost their lives. In the World War that followed 20 years later 5,568 McGill students, alumni and staff enlisted and by the war’s end 298 of them had been killed, and 52 were prisoners of war. Since then, individuals from McGill have helped to resolve conflicts in Kosovo, Eritrea, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
In the period following the end of World War II, the names of those who served were recorded, commemorative plaques were placed on buildings, memorials – including the Sports Centre Gymnasium and Memorial Pool – were built and McGill University Archives gathered an array of records. But, with each passing year, the people and events that inspired these memorials have increasingly become a mystery. A tangible symbol of this sad reality is the current state of Memorial Hall, located on Pine Ave. next to the McGill Sports Centre. Built following World War II, with funds donated by a grateful McGill community, the Hall was once the centre of the University’s Remembrance Day activities and the annual Memorial address that featured such prominent speakers as Eleanor Roosevelt and Louis St. Laurent.
The stories of individual sacrifice and contribution by members of the McGill community deserve to be preserved, so that they will outlast the uncertainty of collective memory.
|McGill University Archives site||Memorial Hall|
Contact us: mcgillremembers[at]mcgill.ca