Seventh and eighth graders from Holy Family Elementary left their history classroom to visit Fort York on Monday. Pam Demmings, a teacher at Holy Family, says the intimate setting of Fort York is perfect setting for the day.
“They really understood what was going on and we really prepped them on what was happening today,” said Demmings. “Most of our students are immigrants and they’re interested in Toronto’s history.”
Students in grades seven and eight at Holy Family are studying Canadian history. Demmings chose Fort York, not only because it was relevant to their studies, but also because other services around the city can get too crowded. With only around 200 people in attendance, the tribute lasted no more than half an hour and included singing ‘O Canada’, a rendition of ‘In Flanders Fields’, and prayers and readings from Reverend Dr. John D. Hartley.
The students were joined at the ceremony by other Torontonians, there to pay respect for fighting and fallen soldiers. The sound of traffic and airplanes in the background cut into the readings and speeches at times – Fort York is near the Gardiner Expressway, train tracks, and Billy Bishop Airport. People were often distracted, and would turn to look. But for all the noise, this spot remains an important part of Toronto’s history.
“I’m very interested in the history because the war of 1812 happened here, so it’s important for a Remembrance Day ceremony to be here,” said Sarah Hunter, a local resident whose two grandfathers both fought in the world wars. “It warms my heart to see all the kids, because then you know the stories will still be told.”
Fort York is a grave site and the grounds for the battle of 1813 – which was fought right within the boundaries of the city, 200 years ago.