While researching my article on Lieutenant Myer Cohen (“Well done, 42nd, well done, old Cohen: Myer Tutzer Cohen (18941917)’]. I came across an obituary published in the Toronto Daily Star on 16 November 1917, a few days after he had been killed in action at Passchendaele. The obituary stated that Cohen had been educated at Harbord Collegiate Institute in Toronto. Harbord Collegiate had opened its doors in 1892 and had a high proportion of Jewish students right up until the 1960s. Harbord unveiled its monument for fallen WW1 soldiers in 1921 (a second for fallen WW2 soldiers was added in 2007). I then contacted Syd Moscoe of the “Harbord Club.” the school’s alumni association, to see if they had any additional information on Cohen which could add to the story I was building on this gallant officer. Sadly. Cohen’s name did not appear in their records, nor did it appear on the Institute’s WWI Honour Roll of Service. Lastly, his name was not inscribed on Harbord’s monument to the fallen, known affectionately to staff and students as “Our Soldier.” According to Moscoe, “over 500 students and staff served in the WW1, but only about 480 names have been located.” To Moscoe’s credit, he quickly put in place plans to finance the creation of a new bronze plaque to be unveiled and dedicated on Remembrance Day, 11 November 2014. The funds to create and mount the plaque were eventually raised by Harbord’s Student Activity Council and the Key Club. It was also hoped that a representative of Cohen’s old Regiment. the 5th Regiment, Royal Highlanders of Canada (today’s Black Watch of Canada), as well as someone from Lt Cohen’s extended family, would be in attendance.
Eventually, two other names would be added to the bronze plaque: Lt-Col Thomas Craik Irving: and Lt Walter Howard Curry. The two additional names came to light shortly after Myer Cohen’s, all from different sources. With the new plaque in hand and Harbord’s records updated. the ceremony took place as planned on 11 November 2014. Bill Carlisle, president of the Black Watch Association Toronto Branch, represented the Regiment along with an association piper, while Cohen’s great niece. Evelyn Martin and her daughter Maria Harrison, were also in attendance.
“We gather together today to remember the fallen heroes who have paid the ultimate sacrifice: the loss of their lives,– said Harbord Principal Vince Meade at the ceremony. “Specifically. we are remembering three soldiers who were lost to us and who have now been found.” Maj (Ret) Michael Boire also addressed the students, impressing upon them the fact that they must live in a way that honours the legacy of those who have fought to maintain freedom around the world, adding “You are an old, well-known, and highly-respected school in this town, in this province and in this country… Always remember that freedom isn’t free.” The importance of the sacrifices made by the soldiers was not lost on Harbord students. “It’s very special to have found the three soldiers because we need to honour all the people who sacrificed to fight in the war.” said Grade 10 student Josh Biderman. Fellow Grade 10 student Noah Dreyfuss concurred, adding that recognizing Harbord students who lost their lives in the war gave the ceremony added significance. “It’s something that’s really close to us because if we had been around at that time, we would have been going off to war,– he said.
The three new additions to the “Our Soldier” monument bring the number of Harbord’s WW1 fallen to seventy-eight. As Meade concluded during the ceremony, The addition of the three names showed that 100 years later, we still remember them and are bringing them home by adding their names to our memorial.-