From 1942 to 1944, two special groups of students attended U of T: the No. 1 and No. 2 Canadian Army University Courses. These young men were not traditional university students, but rather took an intensive program in science, engineering and math in order to fill the army’s need for well-trained servicemen. Many members of the No. 2 course were hurried overseas to fight in the Second World War without finishing the second year of their program (although many returned to U of T after the war). Jim Knowles, a member of No. 2, landed in the Netherlands in 1945 at age 19.
In 1994, Knowles, 14 of his classmates and other veterans formed the Canada Remembers Council. The group arranged for veterans to return to the Netherlands in 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its liberation from German occupation. With the cooperation of the Dutch government, the council established the Canada-Netherlands Memorial Park in Groesbeek, a memorial to the thousands of Canadians who lost their lives in the Netherlands during the Second World War.
Knowles and other members of No. 2 also created Frontline!, a video about their battle experiences that is shown in history classes across Canada. “It’s a lesson in pride, citizenship and duty,” he says.
The members of No. 2 developed a real camaraderie, both at U of T and in the forces, and their friendships have stood the test of time. About 100 members attended a reunion in Toronto last October. “It’s nice to keep the bond up, since people feel emotional about their university years,” says Knowles.