St. Andrew’s Church commemorates First World War

Voices of War, Dreams of Peace multimedia presentation remembers members of congregation who died

St Andrews Event

Lt. Brian Melville Loudon

Photo/COURTESY

Lt. Brian Melville Loudon (fourth from left) was a member of the 15th Battalion CEF. Loudon will be one of 28 fallen First World War soldiers who will be honoured during a special ceremony at St. Andrew’s Church on Oct. 4.

City Centre Mirror

By Justin Skinner

While the First World War was fought entirely on foreign soil, its repercussions were felt in Toronto, and St. Andrew’s Church Toronto is hosting a special event to showcase its impact at home.

The church will host a special multimedia presentation, Voices of War, Dreams of Peace: The Legacy of the First World War to commemorate the 28 members of its congregation who died fighting in the conflict.

The lives of those 28 soldiers were researched by congregation member Fiona Smith, who spent countless hours doing online research and driving around the neighbourhood around St. Andrew’s looking for whatever information she could unearth.

There are a lot of stories (regarding the soldiers) in my neighbourhood, the Annex,” Smith said. “For instance, I’ve driven past Harbord Collegiate hundreds of times and never once stopped to look at the school’s World War I memorial.”

When she did stop in, she noticed one of St. Andrew’s’ soldiers was listed there, while another who also attended the school had been left off.

They said they’re rededicating the memorial on Nov. 11,” she said.

Smith used online database ancestry.ca and pored over materials at the Toronto Reference Library in search of information.

The list of fallen soldiers who were part of the church’s congregation was a veritable who’s who of influential families back in the 1910s, from Francis Gibson, son of Ontario Lt.-Gov. John Morison Gibson, to Gordon Hanlan, son of champion sculler and Toronto alderman Ned Hanlan.

There was also Major Alexander Miln, who was the manager of the Mutual Street Arena and the manager of the first professional hockey team in the city (the Toronto Professionals,)” Smith said.

Through extensive research, she managed to track down letters the soldiers had written to family, as well as photos and other archival materials. For the upcoming commemorative event, actors will read the letters in period costume to help audience members get a feel for the era. Photos of the soldiers will be showcased, and performers will sing and play songs from the 1910s.

I’m really looking forward to the whole event, but especially to hearing actors reading the letters,” Smith said. “I think that will be so poignant, so moving.”

Ontario’s new Lieutenant Governor, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, is also expected to attend the event.

St. Andrew’s Church Toronto reverend Will Ingram noted that guest speakers will address those in attendance, speaking not only of the First World War, but also of the culture and musical scene at the time.

It’s not a glorification of the war, but a commemoration,” he said. “We’ll be looking at what lessons we’ve learned since that time and what we unfortunately haven’t learned.”

Ingram added the information being presented opened his eyes to what life was like in the area a century ago.

Those of us involved in the planning learned a lot about our own community – not just the church community, but the Toronto community,” he said.

Voices of War, Dreams of Peace will take place at St. Andrew’s Church Toronto, the regimental church of the 48th Highlanders of Canada, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4. The church is at 73 Simcoe St. downtown.