It was one of the oldest high schools in Canadian history. Owen Sound Collegiate and Vocational Institute (OSCVI) closed its doors in 2016, after 160 years of operation. As one of the few avenues for students in Ontario’s Grey and Bruce Counties interested in post-secondary studies, OSCVI can claim famous alumni like Norman Bethune, Agnes Macphail, and Billy Bishop. Men and women from the school served in both of Canada’s world wars, including 60 men who died in the course of their duties during the Second World War.
Unlike in the First World War, where most of the school’s servicemen and women served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium, OSCVI’s Second World War veterans served across the globe in the army, navy, and air force.
Today’s guest, Dave Alexander, shares his research on OSCVI’s Second World War dead and argues that the identities of these men were lost in the process of adopting a traditional commemorative approach based on the First World War experience.
2:28 A Brief History of OSCVI
8:52 Norman Bethune in China
14:05 Growing Up at the High School
20:22 Examining the Service of OSCVI War Dead
31:20 The Air Force’s Popularity
36:55 Wartime Efforts to Commemorate OSCVI’s War Dead
42:22 The OSCVI War Memorial Fund Committee
52:44 The Evolution of OSCVI’s Commemorative Efforts
57:09 The Digital Age and Commemoration
Dave Alexander is a semi-retired history and geography high school teacher who is passionate about remembrance education. He has years of experience teaching Canada’s military heritage and taking students on tours of Canada’s battlefields in Europe. In December 2017 he completed a Master of Arts history thesis at the University of Waterloo. His topic was the experience of the Owen Sound Collegiate and Vocational Institute’s Second World War war dead and their commemoration at the school. He and his family are well-connected to the school’s history. Dave attended OSCVI as a high school student and spent his entire 32-year teaching career at the school. He serves on the board of the Billy Bishop Home and Museum, the Victorian boyhood home of Canada’s leading First World War ace.
The following links offer more information on the topics discussed in this episode:
Weapons & Formations
Juno Beach & Beyond is hosted and edited by Alex Fitzgerald-Black, the centre’s Digital Projects Coordinator.
Mackenzie King’s speech to British Parliament from the British Pathé YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SlEvclY5LE&t=48s
Artillery firing sounds from the CBC News: The National YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsCSQ4uWR1Y
Female veteran’s voice (Eileen Green, née Short) Courtesy of The Memory Project, Historica Canada: http://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/383:eileen-green-nee-short/
Winston Churchill’s “Finest Hour” speech from Jonathan Thomas’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB5wZtV1MWM
Spitfire sound effect from Jason Kirby’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgZI4tAoMN0
Dramatic Interlude by Alexander Nakarada | https://www.serpentsoundstudios.com
Music promoted by https://www.free-stock-music.com
Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
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