Walking them home

By Jessica McIntyre

Glebe Collegiate (GCI) history students have been working on a meaningful Remembrance Day initiative – the creation of a walking memorial project called “Walking Them Home” to commemorate former Glebe students and staff who served in World War II. On their daily walk home from school from November 8 to 14, Glebe students are encouraged to walk by the house of one of the fallen soldiers, scan the QR code on the memorial sign and learn more about their lives.

“These are soldiers who went to the same school as us, lived in the same neighbourhood as us, and maybe even sat in the same classroom as us,” says Nora, a Grade 10 student.

In 1939, when the Second World War broke out, students and teachers responded to the call of duty and served in the Canadian Armed Forces. They all shared a common experience as a GCI student before saying goodbye to loved ones and heading out to serve their country and preserve the honour bestowed by the generation before who bravely fought in the First World War.

Many of these brave men fell in the line of duty and never returned home to their families.

This fall, students have studied these soldiers’ military service records, carefully piecing together their lives, finding parallels between the soldiers’ lives and their own. In a spirit of remembrance, GCI students have created a memorial walk through the Glebe which identifies the homes of former students and offers information about their lives and service.

“This project not only teaches you about soldiers, but students and young adults,” says Katie, Grade 10. “People who also went to Glebe and had only recently graduated or were still in school. Their records even show what teams they were on and their aspirations. This gives so much personality to the soldiers and the lives they gave up for Canada.”

The hope is that the Glebe community will join in walking the memory of their soldier back home – ultimately, “Walking Them Home.”
“This project teaches us the importance of community,” observes Liv, also in Grade 10. “We will share their stories, experiences and lives with our community, in hope to reconnect and learn about the history of the land and community we live in.”

Memorial signs have been displayed with permission on the front lawns of houses that were once inhabited by the families of these soldiers.
“Seeing where they lived helps people understand that they had ties to the community and could have been someone’s neighbour, teacher or friend,” reflects Kaamil.

Students have found this experience memorable. “This is different from any other school project I have done before and working on it feels much more meaningful,” says Annika. Ava observes, “Some people were just as young as us and were willing to give up their lives to protect their country.”

“It’s extremely important that we keep the stories of these young men and women alive and use our voices to speak for those who can’t ever speak again,” says Carolina.

In the 1937 edition of the Lux Glebana, Glebe Collegiate’s yearbook, in an article titled “What Price Liberty,” student Ian A. McPhee reflected on the Canadian experience in the First World War.

“A few short years ago, millions of men died that we might enjoy freedom and security. If we fail to keep it, we fail those whose torch was passed on to us to keep burning brightly, and to be held high. If we do preserve it, we honour them, and when we in our turn pass on, we will know that behind us lives a generation of free men and of free women to be the keepers of this great heritage of ours – Canada.”

By encouraging our students and greater community to remember the lives of these brave men by “Walking Them Home,” it is our hope that we are truly honouring those who came before us, ensuring that the torch that was passed on to us to keeps burning brightly.

On the map, you will see pins showing the addresses of all the former GCI students and staff who served in World War II. Please consider using this map to plan a memorial walk of your own.

Visit “walking them home” website

Jessica McIntyre is a history and social science teacher and head of social sciences at Glebe Collegiate Institute.


Glebe Collegiate students have created a meaningful way of remembering former students who died in the Second World War –  “Walking Them Home.” Remarked one student: “This is different from any other school project…and it feels much more meaningful.”



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