Varsity's Soldiers: The University of Toronto Contingent of the Canadian Officers’ Training Corps, 1914−1968
Published: September 2019© 2019
384 Pages, 5.90 x 9.10 x 1.40 in
The role of Canadian universities in selecting and training officers for the armed forces is an important yet overlooked chapter in the history of higher education in Canada. For more than fifty years, the University of Toronto supported the largest and most active contingent of the Canadian Officers' Training Corps (COTC), which sent thousands of officer candidates into the regular and reserve forces.
Based on the rich fund of documents housed in the university archives, Varsity’s Soldiers offers the first full-length history of military training in Toronto. Beginning with the formation of a student rifle company in 1861, and focusing on the story of the COTC from 1914 to 1968, author Eric McGeer seeks to enlarge appreciation of the university’s remarkable contribution to the defence of Canada, the place of military education in an academic setting, and the experience of the students who embodied the ideal of service to alma mater and to country.
List of Abbreviations
1. "Old K": The University Rifle Company and Its Legacy, 1861-1914
2. Born and Raised in War: The University of Toronto Contingent, 1914-1919
3. Soldiering on in Peacetime: The University of Toronto Contingent, 1919-1939
4. "The Child of The Last War": The University of Toronto Contingent, 1939-1945
5. A Vital Link: The University of Toronto Contingent, 1945-1968
"Varsity’s Soldiers displays a solid understanding of the Canadian military volunteerism that occurred at the University of Toronto during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It contains original material expressed fluently and written with an engaging style distinguished by its freshness and clarity."Howard G. Coombs, Department of History, Royal Military College of Canada
"Eric McGeer’s rich account traces the University of Toronto’s COTC contingent from the Fenian raids in 1866 to its demise in the 1960s. Carefully researched and beautifully written, it details how generations of COTC cadets played an important part in the life of the University but also the military history of Canada."Geoffrey Hayes, Department of History, University of Waterloo
"Varsity’s Soldiers is an integral work on the history of the organization and lived experiences of Toronto students, dating back to the nineteenth century, as they trained and prepared for war in which many would participate and sadly pay the ultimate sacrifice. The book is a well-written and richly researched, illustrated, and detailed analysis of how the university and students met the challenges of extraordinarily adverse and dire circumstances caused by international conflagrations. Varsity’s Soldiers fundamentally furthers our understandings of student culture, war and university life, and the larger scholarship on the history of higher education and campus in Canada."Paul Stortz, Department of History, University of Calgary
- 2021 Heritage Toronto Book Award