Toronto Normal School – Today

FOR six years the shadow of the Second Great War lay on the Toronto Normal School. First came the tragic loss of Thornton Mustard. Then came the enlistment of graduates in the armed forces, with tidings from time to time and from distant lands of former students who had made the supreme sacrifice. One of these, F/L Malcolm McIver, a F. C., was valedictorian of the year 1940-41, and son of Murdoch McIver of the School’s Soldier Year, 1919-20.

In the summer of 1941, the influence of the conflict was felt by the School in another way. A call came from the Department of National Defence for quarters in Toronto for Initial Training School No. 6, in connection with the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The Government of Ontario promptly offered the buildings of the Normal and Model Schools and arrangements were quickly completed for the transfer of the teacher-training institution to the building known as the Earl Kitchener Public School. This three-storey building of seven­teen rooms, located at 870 Pape Avenue in the Township of East York, was made available through the co-operation of the Toronto Board of Education. Though lacking an adequate auditorium, and having no gymnasium, the building provided reasonably satisfactory temporary quarters for the Normal School.

H. E. Elborn, General Editor of Text-books in the Ontario Depart­ment of Education, had been appointed principal of the School in October, 1939. It fell to his lot to supervise the move to the new building, and to adjust the life and routine of the institution to its new surround. ings.

The Model School, sister institution of the Normal School for ninety-three years, was disbanded at the time of the transfer to Pape Avenue. Its pupils were absorbed in the public, separate, or private schools of the city, and its teachers were either transferred to the staff of Toronto Public Schools, or were assigned new duties under the De­partment of Education.

The Model School had played a valuable role in the history of teacher-training in Ontario. Organized at a time when the common schools of the community were not of high standard, it had provided, as its name implied, a model for student-teachers to copy later in schools of their own. By the twentieth century, the publicly supported schools of the Province were well organized, well-housed, well-equipped, and well-staffed, and consequently were in a position to provide facili­ties for teacher-training purposes. For that reason, special Model Schools were not attached to the Normal Schools instituted in London, Hamilton, North Bay, Peterborough, and Stratford. But the Model Schools in Ottawa and Toronto continued to operate. They stood a little apart from the city school systems; they had their own traditions and com­manded their own loyalties. When their buildings were taken over during the war, families whose children had been educated in the “Model” for several generations mourned the passing of what had be­come beloved institutions.

The place that the Toronto Normal Model School held in the hearts of its “old boys and girls” had been shown in February, 1934, when a reunion was held of its graduates of fifty or more years before. Sir John Aird, Sir Henry Pellatt, and Col. A. E. Gooderham were among former students who attended this party organized by Headmaster F. M. McCordic in connection with Toronto’s Centennial Year. “One by one the old students appeared,” reads a report in the Mail and Empire of February 22, 1934, “looked quickly around the gathering and then, with ‘Hello Bill’ or ‘Well, well, Charlie,’ began to renew the acquaintances of more than half a century ago. There were those who brought old prize books, others with old photographs and autograph albums, and others with old reports. In one corner of the room were the old registers. Grey heads bent over these yellowing volumes, pick­ing out who stood first in his class or laughing because they discovered they stood last.”

Headmasters of the Model School after the turn of the century were: Angus McIntosh (1887-1912) ; R. W. Murray (1913-15) ; Milton A. Sorsoleil (1915-21); Thornton Mustard (1921-23): F. M. McCordic (1923-40) ; and Adam McLeod (1940-41). Of these, M. A. Sorsoleil later became Deputy Minister of Welfare for Ontario, Thornton Mustard became eighth principal of the Toronto Normal School, and Mr. McLeod became Supervisor of Correspondence Courses in the Department of Education. Two staff members often recalled by graduates of the school arc Thomas Porter and Charters Sharpe. Mr. Sharpe is now on the staff of University of Toronto Schools, and keeps in close touch with the “old boys” of the Model by post-card, circular letter, and informal reunion. Former members of the staff who are now enjoying retirement in Toronto are: Misses May K. Caulfield, Alice Harding, Lilian Harding, A. F. Laven, and Mary E. Maclntyre; Messrs. F. M. McCordic, C. D. Bouck, and E. H. Price. The staff of the Model School during its final year,1940-41, was composed of: A. McLeod, C. T. Sharpe, R. G. Kendall, C. E. McMullen, Jessie I. Cross, Doris R.. Soden, Jessie McKay, Rose Lynch, Mrs. K. Crawford, Marion Evans, Jean Greig, Mrs. C. S. Burke, Elizabeth Mitchell, M. Maude Watterworth, A. Elsie Sherin, and Mrs. Vera S. Fuller. The following members of the Normal School staff were asso­ciated with the Model School: G. S. Apperley, D. W. Burns, E. Grace Conover, Joicey M. Horne, Mrs. Vera E. Russell.

St. James Square, under the vigorous direction of the Commandant, Group Captain J. Hanschett-Taylor, rapidly became an efficient air-training centre. Auxiliary buildings sprang up around the permanent blocks, and a great drill hall dominated the eastern portion of the grounds. The old school-buildings were used as lecture rooms and dormitories. “It is not a new experience to sleep in the Normal and Model Schools,” said a former student who found himself quartered in one of his old classrooms, “but it is a new experience to sleep there with a clear conscience!”

Meanwhile two members of the Normal School staff were serving in the forces—Lt. Col. S. A. Watson and S/L G. S. Apperley—as were also two members of the Model School staff, W/C R. G. Kendall and S/L C. E. McMullen.

Some changes were made in the training of teachers in the Province, following the appointment, in 1939, of Dr. H. E. Amoss as Director of Professional Training. The courses of study were revised, the number of final examination papers was reduced to ten, the number of weeks spent in continuous observation and practice teaching was increased to four, the policy of inter-changing normal school masters and school inspectors for periods of one or two years was introduced, and the Primary Specialist Course was begun.

The Primary Specialist Course was established in 1939 to prepare teachers for work in junior and senior kindergartens, and Grades I and II. It is offered only at the Toronto Normal School, and applicants are required to hold either a first-class teaching certificate or a degree in arts. Proficiency in music, vocal and piano, is a further requirement for admission. The course is strongly practical in its organization, eight weeks of continuous teaching supplementing the usual schedule of practice lessons. Students taking the course not only receive instruc­tion at the Normal School, but attend weekly lectures at the Institute of Child Study, University of Toronto. Model School teachers who were instructors on the first staff of the Primary Specialist Course were Mrs. Claire Senior Burke, and Misses M. Maude Watterworth and Elsie A. Sherin. Upon the transfer of the Normal School to Pane Avenue, these three teachers were employed in Wilkinson Public School where they continued to assist with the training of students in the Primary Specialist Course. Mrs. Burke in 1947 continues as instructress in Kindergarten Methods on the staff of the Normal School, and directress of the morning Kindergarten in Wilkinson School. Mrs. Emerson Robertson (nee M. Maude Watterworth) died in June, 1946, and Miss A. E. Sherin in November of the same year.

Definite efforts have been made in recent years to keep the Normal School in close touch with the teaching field. One means used has been the interchange of masters and inspectors. A second method has been the holding of regular conferences between teachers in the Normal School and inspectors in surrounding counties and urban centres. Discussions at these meetings have done much to acquaint the two groups with the problems and viewpoints of those concerned with the pre-service arid in-service training of teachers.

With the coming of peace, the Toronto Normal School has continued to occupy its temporary quarters on Pape Avenue, its former buildings now being used by the Toronto Training and Re-establishment Institute, where personnel discharged from the forces are equipped, through various courses, to earn a living in the commercial, industrial, or pro­fessional world. The Director of the Institute is Lt. Col. F. H. Wood, the Registrar is Major J. C. Boylen, and the Regional Director of Cana­dian Vocational Training for Ontario is H. H. Kerr. This book printed by the School of Graphic Arts, one branch of the Institute, is evidence not only of the practical instruction offered there, but of the cordial relations existing between the Normal School and the educational organization that occupies its former buildings.

The Normal School has had its own responsibility in the education of men and women from the forces. Since 1945, thirty or forty students each year have attended the School under the rehabilitation plan. Unlike the class of 1919-20, none of these classes could be called the “Soldier Year,” as Navy, Army, and Air Force—women as well as men—have been represented in the returned group. The high quality of the work of these students during their training year, gives promise of a valuable contribution to the schools of Ontario in the years ahead.

Members of the staff of the Toronto Normal School during the 1946-47 year were: H. E. Elborn, Dr. W. E. M. Aitken, R. A. Johnston, E. A. Miller, C. A. Mustard, M. H. Park, A. M. Patterson, Miss F. F. Halliday, Miss M. C. Young, Miss J. L. Merchant, Miss J. M. Horne, Mrs. F. G. Russell, Mrs. E. H. McKone, W. L. Stricker, D. W. Burns, Mrs. C. S. Burke and Miss A. E. Sherin. Mr Miller died early in the autumn of 1946, and Mr. H. E. Ricker, former principal of North Bay Normal School acted as Science Master in his stead, from November, 1946, to June, 1947. Miss E. B. Rennie and Miss A. N. Dimytosh are the secretaries of the School.

One hundred years is a long time in the history of public education in any land. In the century from 1847 to 1947 the pioneer Normal School of the Province has become one of a group of eight schools entrusted with the training of teachers for the elementary schools, the University of Ottawa Normal School having been opened in 1927. Two of these sister Normal Schools are now headed by former masters of the Toronto Normal School—Dr. C. E. Mark, appointed principal in London in 1932. and W. K. F. Kendrick, appointed principal of the Ottawa Normal School in 1946.

But the Toronto Normal School has meant much more in the educational history of Ontario than an institution for the training of teachers. As the home of the Education Office for many years it was, as Lord Elgin termed it, the seed-plot of the school system. In it, diverse educational projects were nurtured until they became sturdy enough for independent growth. Thus the collection of curios in the corridors of the Normal School is but a memory, dwarfed by the Royal Ontario Museum; the School of Art and Design has become the Ontario College of Art; the copies of old masters and the plaster reproductions of famous statuary, once the pride of the Normal School, are forgotten now that original masterpieces are on view in the Art Gallery of Toronto; experiments in cereal production, once a feature of the School’s grounds, are now the province of the Ontario Agricultural College; the training of high school teachers, begun in the School in 1858, is now the function of the Ontario College of Education; books once assembled in the building in St. James Square now form the nucleus of the educational section of the Legislative Library. And so the catalogue could go on. The Toronto Normal School was long not only the seed-bed, but, as Ryerson described it, the main-spring of the system of public instruction.

Those days are gone by, but the chief task of the school—that of teaching those who will teach our children—remains one of first im­portance. In this history we have read much of staff members and buildings—of masters and masonry, if you will,—but a school is more than bricks and stone, more than its teachers; it is the sum of its staff. students, and graduates. Just as those groups have won for the Toronto Normal School, during the past century, the place it holds in the educa­tional life of the Province, so those groups to-day must uphold and strive to improve the quality of the school’s work in the years to come. To men and women teaching or studying in its classrooms, or leaving its halls for classrooms of their own, might be addressed the lines from Newbolt’s Clifton Chapel:

“Henceforth the School and you are one, And what You are the race shall be.”