Category Archives: Archives

Don Wright’s Legacy Finds a New Home

25 Bright Red Binders

When I took over the care of the NT Archives in the 1990s, they were situated in a former kitchen in the basement of the old school. At the time, I noticed a stack of binders piled high amid the rafters of the storage room. There were 25 of these bright red books, with gold lettering on the spines declaring that they were the Don Wright Collection. I had a huge job just trying to identify and organize the Archives, and so I left the binders to sleep where they were and focused on more immediate tasks.

Who Was Don Wright?

However, I did enquire of the Music Department, Just who was this Don Wright? Continue reading Don Wright’s Legacy Finds a New Home

The Archives: A Treasure Trove of History

For generations, people who care about North Toronto Collegiate have collected NT memorabilia. Each time I am in the Archives room, I try to lure in the students who have lockers nearby to admire the riches within. Just last week, I chatted with Sophia Rutherford, a second-generation NT student, and was able to show her the 1970s collection from her parents’ era. The Archives is mostly a mystery room to present-day students—but it is a fascinating trip down memory lane for alumni.

We have a remarkable collection, going back to 1912: photos, programs, plaques, trophies, uniforms, scrapbooks, pennants and crests, school pins, rings, hats, recordings, tapes, CDs, newspapers and yearbooks. And, of course, some unique items that would be the centrepiece of any collection. For example, we have Colin Farmer’s 35-mm camera, the footballs from the 1941 and 1944 Toronto City Championship games, and the shovel used to break ground for the new school. These resources were invaluable during the writing of the history of NT, Hail, North Toronto. They are also a wonderful resource for reunion materials and other research.

This Is Your Collection

Alumni frequently donate gifts that need to be incorporated into the collection. We recently acquired, for instance, more of Colin Farmer’s collection of photos, of which we already had quite a few. Colin and his enthusiastic Photography Club documented a huge swath of NT history in film and snapshots. The ever-important Maytime Melodies records and Kiwanis festival certificates were donated by the Music Department and digitized by Elvino Sauro, a very generous NT alum.

From Roy Hiir (’60) 2nd-fl-display-case-a-cwe received, among other things, a sweater crest in garnet and grey, the original NT colours before red and grey replaced them. Margaret Clarke contributed photos of the 1941 and 1944 football champs, which she had cherished all these years and which have finally come home to NT.

But not only alumni donate artifacts to the Archives. I have recently received material from Hal Brown’s family, including his famous red-and-grey coaching jacket, which still sports the muddy imprints of the equipment he carted around on the backfield of the old NT while coaching our athletes, among them Lucia Jenkins and Mary Nishio. Well after he retired, Hal continued to coach our track and field team, wearing that jacket. To me, it epitomizes his devotion to NT and is more valuable than jewels—a priceless, unique expression of the man Hal Brown was.

Are You a Closet Archivist?

It is my pleasure to be able to help acquire and conserve this bounty in the special Archives room at NT, but I could certainly use some help in making it accessible to anyone who wants to peruse it.

Nowadays, we can search online for NT memorabilia and acquire it if it is reasonable. That is one job to be done.

Former students and teachers are very good about leaving us their records, yearbooks and memorabilia when they are cleaning out their closets. These all need to be catalogued and integrated into the collection. Another project is trying to identify the activity and vintage or year of photographs— there are literally hundreds of them waiting to be dealt with so they can be properly catalogued.

So there is enough work to keep us busy for years to come! We have a wonderful record of the proud NT heritage right here in the school. It is indeed a treasure trove.

If you would like to help with this important work, please let us know by either post or email (subject line: “Archives”). Our contact information is on the last page.
—Nancy Baines, Archivist

WWII Pilot and North Toronto Grad Received Prestigious Military Honour

pilot-officer-douglas-bainFlying Officer Douglas Bain (’39) was killed in action on May 30, 1942, and posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in March 1944. The DFC, presented to his next-of-kin and long treasured by the Bain family, was recently donated to NTCI by his nephew (and NT alumnus) Don Norval for safe-keeping. We are honouring that responsibility; both his Distinguished Flying Cross and military letter are on display in the main hall.

Flying Officer Bain, who served with the RCAF and became one of the Allied Forces’ most outstanding pilots during the Second World War, was recognized during the school’s 2013 Remembrance Day assembly. As Principal Joel Gorenkoff reported, Private Officer John Douglas Norman Bain left NTCI after his final year of high school to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces when war first broke out in 1939. He was formally enlisted on October 8, 1940, finished his training on February 11, 1941, and was then commissioned for the war effort.

His military records contain the following description:

One night Flying Officer Bain piloted an aircraft to attack Aachen along the western tip of Germany. While over the target area, his bomber was seriously damaged when engaged by an enemy fighter. Despite this, Flying Officer Bain made several determined runs over his target. On the return flight, two more enemy fighters were encountered but Flying Officer Bain out-maneuvered them. By superb airmanship and great tenacity he succeeded in flying the crippled bomber home. He displayed commendable courage and a fine fighting spirit in circumstances of great difficulty.

Flying Officer Bain, awarded the DFC for this and his thirty-seven other successful sorties during the war effort, is buried at the Canadian War Cemetery in Noord-Brabant, Holland.