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Passchendaele Cemetery

UCC launches Military History Immersion Program

Upper Canada College announced the creation of a new Military History Immersion Program at a student assembly held March 30. The program is the direct result of a generous leadership gift to UCC’s $100-million Think Ahead Campaign from John and Pattie Cleghorn (grandparents of Jamie, Y1) and their family.

The program will immerse student participants in the First and Second World War experiences of Canadian soldiers, with a special focus on the more than 400 UCC Old Boys who gave their lives in the conflicts. Its centrepiece will be an eight-day tour of European battlefields including Ypres, Passchendaele, Vimy Ridge, Dieppe and Juno Beach. There will also be a significant research component to the program, taking advantage of UCC’s many archival resources relating to the First and Second World Wars and the conflicts’ impact on the College community.

“In the lead up to trip, participants will ‘adopt’ a fallen Old Boy, learn about his life at UCC, what took him to war and understand the course of his service overseas,” said Fiona Marshall, chair of the Upper School’s history department and director of the History Immersion Program. “Students’ experiences will culminate with a trip to the location of their Old Boy’s final battle and ultimate gravesite.”

Beginning next year and running annually until 2020, the program will overlap with the commemoration of the First World War’s centenary and the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Between ten and 12 students in Foundation Year and IB1 will be able to participate each year. Thanks to the generosity of the Cleghorn Family, all program expenses for participants will be fully covered (including travel).  An essay/film contest will be run to select student participants.

“We are extremely grateful to John and Pattie Cleghorn and their family for providing our students with this incredible learning opportunity,” says principal Jim Power. “As we increasingly lose our veteran Old Boys, experiences like the Military History Immersion Program will be an invaluable opportunity to bring Canada’s role in the First and Second World Wars, and the past sacrifices of our community, to life for new generations.”

(PHOTO: This cemetery at Paschendaele is the final resting place of Old Boy Stanley Lorne Crowther ’14 who was killed in action in the First World War on Sept. 20, 1917. Crowther is an example of an Old Boy that participants in the Military History Immersion Program will researching as part of the program.) 

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