Queen's University

Remembering Queen's participation in a century's wars

 
2009-11-06

Queen’s is remembering its women and men who fought and died in the wars of the 20th century with a new plaque mounted at the heart of the campus.

Following the annual Remembrance Day Service on November 11, Chaplain Brian Yealland will dedicate the plaque affixed at the Union Street entrance to the John Deutch University Centre (JDUC).

Alumnus Richard Smith (Artsci ‘60) donated the plaque in honour of his father, Harry Smith – an architect with the local firm Drever and Smith who worked on a number of campus buildings between 1945 and 1983, including the JDUC.

“The Queen's online archives tell a story of very active Queen's involvement in both wars that has tended to get lost over time,” says Mr. Smith. “Queen’s had its own military units. I don't believe today's students can understand their predecessors’ devotion and monumental sacrifices unless they are clearly told what happened.”

The 1929 Students’ Memorial Union building, a war memorial to Queen’s soldiers, was destroyed by fire in 1947.

“At seven years old, I stood on the south-west corner of Union St. and University Ave. and watched the old "Union" burn down,” adds Mr. Smith.

It was reconstructed on the same site, then extensively renovated and expanded in the mid 1970’s, and named for former Principal John Deutsch. The renaming has been controversial among some alumni over the years.

“The stone engraving over the front door of the current "Union" is barely discernable. There is nothing at eye level at the entrance of the building indicating its original purpose,” says Mr. Smith.

The Memorial Room inside the JDUC is the original Union building Memorial Hall. Intended as a quiet room where the memory of the fallen would be preserved, it houses the brass scrolls of names of Queen’s casualties from the armed forces during the First World War and the Second World War.

The Second World War Remembrance Room houses photos of the 177 members of the Queen’s community who died in active service in the Second World War. The room also has a display case holding a Union Jack, and the flag of the Canadian Officers Training Corps, which was an important part of Queen’s life during the Second World War. More than 600 men completed military training in conjunction with their Queen’s studies during the war.

“The plaque reminds us that the JDUC is the Student Memorial Union,” says AMS President Michael Ceci. “The building was built to remember those who fought so bravely, but also to bring students from all disciplines together with alumni in activities that support learning outside the classroom.” 

Queen’s Remembrance Day Service begins at 10:45 am in Grant Hall. The Students’ Union Memorial plaque dedication ceremony follows the service at approximately 11:30 am on the front steps of the JDUC. All classes at Queen's are cancelled between 10:30-11:30 am on Nov. 11 to provide students, staff and faculty an opportunity to participate in University Remembrance Day services.

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