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

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