THE PROGRAMME OF THE Centenary Celebration of the Toronto Normal School centred around two main events: first, a dinner in Simpson’s Arcadian Court on the evening of October 24, 1947, when six hundred and fifty graduates and friends gathered to celebrate the one hundredth birthday of the School; and second, a reception attended by some hundreds of graduates on the following afternoon at the School’s old buildings in St. James Square, Church and Gould Streets.
A spirit of re-union pervaded the attractive Court on the night of the dinner. The usherstwelve students of the 1947-48 year, directed by Mr. C. A. Mustard, M.B.E.showed guests to the tables reserved for special visitors, for members of the staff of the Normal and Normal-Model Schools, and for graduates of the various years. As “it’s always fine weather when good fellows get together,” the room was bright with crowding memories when the guests at the head table filed to their places.
Mr. Z. S. Phimister, Superintendent of Public Schools, Toronto, and a graduate of 1924, called the assembly to order, and, as chairman, asked the senior graduate present, Dr. John Dearness, 1871, to say Grace. In a firm voice that scarcely needed the public address system to carry it throughout the great room, Dr. Dearness, whose personal memories cover three-quarters of the School’s first century, asked the blessing of God upon the gathering.
Head table guests were: Mr. Z. S. Phimister, Chairman, and Mrs. Phimister; Dr. J. G. Althouse, Chief Director of Education, and Mrs. Althouse; Mr. F. S. Rutherford, Deputy Minister of Education, and Mrs. Rutherford; Hon. Mr. Justice J. A. Hope, Chairman of the Royal Commission on Education, and Mrs. Hope; Dr. H. E. Amoss, Superintendent of Professional Training, and Mrs. Amoss; Mrs. S. J. Radcliffe, whose husband, Dr. Radcliffe, was Principal of the School from 1918 to 1929;
Mr. David Whyte, Principal of the School. 1929-38, and Mrs. Whyte; Dr: John Dearness; Mr. H. E. Elborn, Principal since 1939, and Mrs. Elborn.
The programme following the dinner opened with a Toast to the King, proposed by the Chairman. After introducing the guests at the head table, Mr. Phimister spoke as follows:
“Now I should like to be able to introduce everyone in this room where we have so many classes of the Toronto Normal School represented. I suppose each class looks back upon its own year and thinks that in that year the fairest girls and the plainest men were gathered together.
“One of the clearest memories I have of my year at Normal is that of Dr. Radcliffe teaching with the sun shining on his beaming face. With Dr. Radcliffe education was a thing of the heart as well as the mind and soon his enthusiasms were shared by his students. He was a great inspiration to all of us. In that same year, 1923, Thornton Mustard became a member of the Normal School staff and taught demonstration lessons for the students. I never heard Literature taught until I heard Thornton Mustard. The lessons he produced I still remember.
`The splendour falls on castle walls.’ ‘I am Bega least of bells.’ `Tiger, tiger, burning bright.’
“All of you will recall with a certain nostalgia, I am sure, the period of your training at the Toronto Normal School. This evening you will have an opportunity to greet old classmates and members of the Normal School staffs through the years. I am sure that those whom we would wish to be here tonight will be with us in spirit as we carry on this programme.
“Not only do we celebrate the one hundredth birthday of the Toronto Normal School but on this 24th of October, 1947, we commemorate the Centenary of Teacher Training in Ontario. Teacher training in this Province began on November 1st, 1847, when the Provincial Normal School was opened in the old Government House at the corner of King and Simcoe Streets. Two of the speakers on that occasion were the Chief Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Egerton Ryerson, and the new Headmaster of the Normal School, Mr. T. J. Robertson.
“Ten years prior to the opening of the Normal School, Queen Victoria had come to the throne of England as a young girl of 18. In 1897 she celebrated the sixtieth year of her reign, and in that same year on November 2nd, 1897, one hundred men prominent in the life of the Province, all of them graduates of the Toronto Normal School, culminated a three-day programme celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the School by holding a dinner. One of the guests that evening who responded to the Toast to the ex-students was Inspector John Dearness, who had graduated from the Toronto Normal School in 1871. We are proud to have with us on the occasion of the hundredth birthday of the Toronto Normal School, Dr. Dearness, who in his own person carries us back to those halcyon days when there were no motor accidents, no telephones, no radio, when progress was an admirable word and the future was bright. It may be that there are persons in this room to-night who, fifty years hence, may participate in the Sesqui-centennial of teacher-training and the 150th birthday of the Toronto Normal School. I wonder what changes such persons would see in 1997. In 1897 one hundred men celebrated the fiftieth anniversary. To-night some six hundred celebrate the hundredth anniversary, and the men now are in a minority. Perhaps fifty years hence the wheel will have gone full circle and the celebrations will be conducted wholly by the women with the men remaining at home.
“Not only is this an historic occasion because we celebrate the centennial of teacher-training and the hundredth birthday of the Toronto Normal School, but also because at the end of this first century we stand poised at the beginning of great new developments in education comparable to the developments which followed the Ryerson Report in 1846. What was conceived and built in those early years was the main structure of the educational system in this Province which has prevailed for the past century. Now the old premises are being closely scrutinized and a new stucture is being considered. The principal architect of the new structure is with us at this table this evening, The Honourable Mr. Justice John A. Hope, Chairman of the Royal Commission on Education.
“So at this time when we look back at the century which has passed, we stand on the threshold of things to come as did the people of this Province in 1847 when the common schools and teachers for those common schools were being developed.
“Tonight when we are conscious of the challenge of the future as well as the history of the past, we must face the fact that in a democracy leaders must have the support of the majority of the people. Few things can be done unless the mass is ready to do its share. Hence, to all of us tonight must come the thought that the future is not only what the leaders conceive but what the rest of us accept as our responsibility.”
At the conclusion of Mr. Phimister’s address, Mr. Albert Carr, a graduate of 1946-47, the Centennial Year, added much to the pleasure of the evening by singing two solos, accompanied at the piano by Miss Olive Russell, 1936.
The Chairman then asked Dr. H. E. Amoss to introduce the guest speaker, Dr. J. G. Althouse. Dr. Amoss, Ontario’s Superintendent of Professional Training, made thoughtful observations on problems of teacher-training, and paid tribute to the leadership given by Dr. Althouse, who was organizing a corps of experts within the Department to carry out the policies which would evolve from the findings of the Royal Commission on Education.
The programme of the dinner concluded in reunion vein. “Greetings to the Students and Staff over the Years” were conveyed in genial style by Mr. W. E. Hanna, who graduated from the School in 1903, and who retired in 1947 from the Principalship of the Oakwood Collegiate Institute. Mr. Hanna asked representatives of the ‘eighties and ‘nineties to stand; he gave special attention to the “nought” years, including his own ’03; and then turned to the memory of men and women who had contributed much to the School, but who were no longer living. Reading the roster of Principals who had passed on, he asked the assembly to rise in honour of these men and their associates. Mr. David Whyte, Principal Emeritus of the School, replied on behalf of former students and staff to Mr. Hanna’s address. In his references to the progress of the School over the years. Mr. Whyte mentioned particularly the contribution of women-teachers to the educational life of the Province, and emphasized the outstanding work of the Soldier Year of 1919-20. This notable group was well represented at the dinner, and its members stood at Mr. Whyte’s request.
“Greetings to the Toronto Normal School of Today” were extended by Mr. Harvey Griffin, Superintendent of Public Schools, York Township, and a graduate of ’14. Mr. Griffin, as an administrator responsible for supervising recent graduates, congratulated the School on its effective work, and also referred to the influence of the association of students one with another during their training year. He asked graduates of his own year, 1914, to stand, and stand they did, some fifty strong, under the leadership of their president, Miss Rilla Clegg. This group had held annual re-unions for many years, and their representation was perhaps the greatest of any single year at the dinner. Reply to Mr. Griffin’s address was voiced by Mr. H. E. Elborn, Principal of the School, who extended the thanks of the Centennial Committee to graduates; to staff members, both present and former; to officials of the Department of Education; and to the Director, Principal, and staff of the Toronto Training and Re-establishment Institute, for their help in making the Centenary Celebration a success.
The dinner closed with the singing of Auld Lang Syne.
The Centennial Reception on the following afternoon at the buildings formerly occupied by the Normal School at Church and Gould Streets, was made possible by the generous co-operation of the Training and Re-establishment Institute, and particularly of its Director, Mr. H. H. Kerr; its Principal, Lt. Col. F. H. Wood; and its hostess, Mrs. Gladys Dobson. The opportunity of visiting the old School, the scene of their training days, was appreciated by some hundreds of graduates. Guests were received for the first hour by Principal and Mrs. H. E. Elborn, Miss Jean Merchant, and Miss Florence F. Halliday, and for the second hour by Principal Emeritus and Mrs. David Whyte, Mr. and Mrs. R. A. Johnston, and Mr. A. M. Patterson. Tours arranged by Lt. Col. F. H. Wood, and conducted by members of his staff, showed graduates the old Normal School building, as altered for the instruction in trades of men and women from the Forces. As part of each tour, guests were shown an historical display, Toronto Normal School, 1847-1947. prepared by students of the Centennial Year under the general direction of a member of the Normal School staff, Lt. Col. M. H. Park. Episodes from the School’s story over the century were depicted in a frieze, developments in methodology and school management were illustrated by series of charts, while models of schools, kindergarten classrooms, and educational projects emphasized contrasting practices over the years. A collection of items related to the School from the Provincial Archives was also on display, the selection having been made by Dr. G. W. Spragge, Secretary of the Ontario Historical Society.
Tea was served in the dining-room of the Institute, where the hostesses were Mrs. E. H. McKone, Dean of Women, Toronto Normal School, and Mrs. G. Dobson of the Re-establishment Institute. Students of the 1947-48 year assisted, and tea was poured by Mrs. S. J. Radcliffe, and Mrs. John Elborn of Stratford, a graduate of 1888. To Mrs. James Kerr, a graduate of 1887, fell the honour of cutting the Hundredth Birthday Cake, which was in the form of an open book, with a picture of the School brushed on the icing of one of its pages.
The wide range of years represented in the register signed by the guests at the reception showed how loyally graduates had cherished the interest aroused in the School during their training year.
The committees responsible for the Centenary Celebration were as follows:
Central Committee: F. S. Rivers, H. H. Kerr, H. E. Elborn.
Banquet Committee: R. A. Johnston, C. A. Mustard, H. A. Blanchard, Miss Edna B. Rennie, E. Learoyd, A. McLeod, A. Goodwin, M. McCordic, C. Vanderburgh, C. Potts, C. Chellew, G. Phillips, J. E. Laughlin, S. Taylor, E. Parsons, Misses 0. H. Clegg, M. Loblaw, B. MacBrien, M. McVey, E. Lamb, B. Haines, A. Ryrie, M. Moore, M. Hamilton, M. Allen, Mesdames J. M. McEachern, A. Wright, P. Roszell, and C. Atkinson.
Invitation Committee: Miss J. L. Merchant, Miss F. F. Halliday, Mr. A. M. Patterson.
Programme Committee: H. E. Elborn, Dr. W. E. M. Aitken, Mrs. F. G. Russell.
Reception Committee: Mrs. E. H. McKone, Miss M. Young, David Burns.
Historical Display Committee: M. H. Park, W. L. Stricker, Miss J. M. Horne.
Editorial Committee: J. C. Boylen, H. E. Elborn, Miss I L. Merchant, and Dr. G. W. Spragge.
Treasurer: R. A. Johnston.