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Impromptu cenotaph appears at U of T

U of T engineering students installed this impromptu cenotaph dedicated to the men and women of Canada’s Armed Forces (photo by Jon Horvatin)

Faculty, staff, students and alumni arriving on the St. George campus Nov. 9 were greeted by a newly constructed, full-sized cenotaph dedicated to the men and women of Canada’s Armed Forces.

Installed on King’s College Circle, in front of Convocation Hall, the monument is part of an engineering tradition that began in 2005. Since then students from the Faculty of Engineering have been designing and building respectful and innovative memorials to commemorate Remembrance Day.

Exactly who these students are is a mystery.

The monument’s creators do not want to detract from the cenotaph’s purpose, which is to support Remembrance Day, said Rishi Maharaj, a 5th-year engineering science student and president of the University of Toronto Engineering Society.

“It’s a deliberately anonymous group of students.”

For the first time this year, the students presided over their own Remembrance Day service. Immediately following the Soldier’s Tower service students began to gather around the cenotaph.

“I had the great pleasure of being by King’s College Circle today, and saw something truly remarkable,” said Linda Phillips-Smith, an alumna of Victoria College and the Faculty of Law. “Young people all commemorating Remembrance Day, thoughtfully... and with great reverence.”

Maharaj, who presided over the brief service, said they wanted to catch students making their way to classes, but did not want to detract from the Soldier’s Tower service. He also said his goal for this service was to make Remembrance Day a bit more relatable to people his own age.

“We should not forget that even today there are people deployed abroad with the Canadian Forces and that all the tragedy of war is not necessarily [in] the past for everyone in this country, “said Maharaj.

“The burden of protecting this country falls as much on our generation as it has on any previous generation.”