University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine
The 1917 Varsity War Supplement
Image courtesy of University of Toronto Archives

Changed by War

A century ago, the First World War changed Canadian society profoundly, and transformed the University of Toronto no less

The First World War changed Canadian society profoundly, and transformed the University of Toronto no less. A quiet teaching university became first a military training camp for thousands of young volunteers, then a research powerhouse as buildings, resources and brilliant minds were turned over to the greater war effort.

These collected vignettes follow commemorate the diverse contributions made a century ago by the U of T community during the war. They offer a window into private moments, acts of kindness, bravery and personal sacrifice. Above all, they illustrate a common commitment to find reasons for hope even in a time of loss.

Read all the stories in this series: The University of Toronto and the First World War

COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO ARCHIVES A1980-0030/002 (40) >“Nothing Lacking but the Roar of Battle”
farmbadge_90 >Farmerettes Help at Home
Guelph Museums >Forgotten Warriors: Animals at War
Image Courtesy Sanofi Pasteur Canada (Connaught Campus) Archives, Toronto >Waging War on Infection
Caley Tessier >Objects of Salvation
University of Toronto Archives B1975-0015/010P (11) or (38) >An Artist at War
bantingletter_90 >Letter From the Front

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  1. 3 Responses to “ Changed by War ”

  2. Tim says:

    There is a great charity started by U of T Alum (many of whom were students at the time of the founding) called Canadian Hero Fund ( The organization supports Canadian Military Families. You may want to look into doing a story on this organization, it has many ties to the university. Chancellor Michael Wilson is an Honourary Patron of the organization, as well as Hon. Bill Graham.

  3. Glenn Walker says:

    Has the magazine done a similar series "Changed by War" on U of T's involvement in the Battle of Ridgeway? The Battle and the threat of Fenian invasion was a major factor that led to Confederation the following year in 1867. The battle involved U of T students and there is a memorial to the battle and the U of T students adjacent to the university on Queen's Park Circle. Three U of T students died in the battle.

  4. University of Toronto Magazine says:

    In response to Glenn Walker's comment: No, to our knowledge, the magazine has never published a story on the Battle of Ridgeway. But it's an interesting idea -- perhaps on the 150th anniversary of the battle in 2016!