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Students Celebrate the Armistice on November 11, 1918

A diary entry from U of T’s women students on the day the First World War ended

November 11, 2014

City of Toronto Archives Fonds 1244, Item 891D

Armistice Day, Bay and King streets: November 11, 1918. City of Toronto Archives Fonds 1244, Item 891D

On the day the First World War’s Armistice was signed, jubiliant crowds jammed Toronto’s streets to celebrate the end of four and a half years of war. The women who lived in U of T’s Annesley Hall residence were among them – and shared how they spent the day in a diary that was published in the next issue of The Varsity. Here are some extracts from their day:

The Varsity, Nov. 13, 1918The diary of Anyone in Annesley Hall would run in some such form as shown below on the memorable day of the signing of the armistice.

Monday, Nov. 11, 1918.

4:30 a.m. – We sit up in bed. To-day’s the day! The Answer was to come from Germany this morning. Didn’t we lie awake half the night thinking of it? It must be true! Peace has come!

The Varsity, Nov. 13, 1918
The Varsity, Nov. 13, 1918

We bound out of bed with excitement and a shout. What can we do? Oh yes, wake our room mate. Then we tear out into the corridors. Absolute silence! Peace, in very truth, reigns over Annesley Hall. “Poor girls, they are used to having ‘Peaces’,” is our first thought, “they can sleep right on through them now.”

5:00 a.m. – Annesley Hall mostly awake and awakening faster. To aid it, we start the fire bell.

6:00 a.m. – We have been pouring forth steadily down Yonge street to see what there is to see, to get flags and an appetite for breakfast.

7:00 a.m. – We begin to pour back.

7:30 a.m. – A comb band, a route march through the halls, and a little sing-song help to fill the time, if not the aching void, till breakfast.

8:00 a.m. – Breakfast – or is it lunch? No, you’re right, we don’t have porridge for lunch.

9:30 a.m. – We join the U.C. girls in a parade. Isn’t it thrilling to hold up traffic and help make a noise. After sufficiently impressing the University buildings as to our ability to give college yells we started downtown. Yonge street – well everyone knows what Yonge street is like in a Peace time. We need therefore only say, “We went down – we came back – alive!”

5:00 p.m. – Have been to several parades, written several speeches, planned several stunts, made a Kaiser.

6:00 p.m. – A gala dinner. We have table decorations, ice-cream and party-frocks. Miss Addison acts as toast-mistress. After the King, the National Anthem is sung. The toasts: to Our Men Overseas, to Our Allies, to Peace.

7:15 p.m. – On the lawn, we surround a fire built for the Spirit of Militarism, in the guise of the Kaiser. The dean applies the first torch.

8:30 p.m. – 2T2 holds an original camp fire scene, in the gymnasium, to which they invite their enemies, the sophs, to smoke the pipe of peace.

9:00 p.m. – 2T0 gives an amusing sketch of how the news was received in a Toronto home and how 2T0 expelled “Kaiser-wasm”.

To read more stories of the University of Toronto during the First World War, read our Autumn 2014 cover story: “Changed by War“.

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