Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books

Monday Monuments and Memorials – War Memorial Hall, University of Guelph, Guelph ON

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War Memorial Hall in Guelph was built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ontario Agricultural College and to honour those from the college killed in WW1.

The hall was to be large enough to seat the entire student body. Disputes about its location were ended when students took direct action and felled a stand of Norway spruce on their preferred site in the middle of the night. Students also excavated the foundations for the building using shovels and wheelbarrows.

The sod was turned by Minister of Agriculture (and OAC alumnus) Manning Doherty in fall 1920, the foundation was laid in 1923 and the building opened in June 1924.

Built of Georgetown limestone, the building was designed by architect Harry Reginald Coales. Two stained glass windows between the main doors, designed by Peter Haworth, represent war and peace. They mark the Memorial Chapel, in which a bronze tablet bears the names of the 109 fallen students, alumni, faculty and staff who lost their lives in WW1. A book of remembrance* lists all those who served. The names of 789 men are on the OAC honour roll. (A second tablet and book were added for WW2.) 

In 1964, OAC joined with the Macdonald Institute* and the Ontario Veterinary College to form the University of Guelph. War Memorial Hall remains a hallmark building on the university campus. At the annual Remembrance Day service, a silver rose bowl filled with red roses is placed amongst the wreaths in the chapel. The rose bowl was donated by Macdonald Institute alumna Kathleen Dowler Riter in memory of her friend, RAF Captain John Playford Hales, an OAC faculty member killed in France in 1918.

*The building was unfortunately closed when I visited, so I couldn’t check whether the book of remembrance now names those from the other colleges, including Macdonald Institute graduate Roberta MacAdams.

Author: greatwar100reads

Canadian crusader for equality and justice. Connoisseur and creator of the written word. Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books and monuments. Read more at

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