The 36 trees were planted in 1922 — a “Road of Remembrance” for the 36 graduates who fought and died.
Today, on Concordia’s Loyola Campus, the ravages of time have claimed many of the 36 memorial maples.
According to Archivist Emerita Nancy Marrelli, “All the special markers have disappeared, so sadly it's not possible to tell which trees are which. But we definitely know that some of the original trees are still there.” One venerable specimen looks out over the Stingers Stadium, across the street from the main entrance to campus.
In 1996, Loyola High School planted a 37th tree in honour of Lieutenant John Howe further along Sherbrooke. Lt. Howe, another of the college’s former students, was taken down by a sniper’s bullet on April 25, 1916. His maple, and a plaque commemorating the Road of Remembrance, sit at 7272 Sherbrooke St. W.
All aboard the Harvest Special
Many more former students from Loyola and Sir George Williams College, Concordia’s founding institutions, fought in the Second World War. But from 1939 to 1945, a quieter battle was waged on the homefront, as women and university students stepped in to fill the labour shortfall.
In October 1942, a call went out from the Government of Canada for young men who could help harvest wheat, oats, barley and flax in western Canada. Eight thousand workers were needed immediately to save crops that had been “seriously delayed” by inclement weather.
Seventy-five students from Sir George Williams — more than 50 per cent of the entire male day-student population — answered the appeal. Within hours, they jumped aboard the “Harvest Special” bound for Saskatchewan. Seventy-five students from Loyola followed shortly afterwards.
“Ever since reaching Capreol, Ontario, the train has been 20 coaches long,” wrote Fred Kerner in an October 20 dispatch for The Georgian student newspaper. “Slightly sore of hind-side, a thousand weary but happy and slap-happy students are looking forward to the last leg of the journey.”