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History Canada

Varsity's Soldiers

The University of Toronto Contingent of the Canadian Officers' Training Corps, 1914−1968

by (author) Eric McGeer

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2019
Canada, History, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2019
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Aug 2019
    List Price

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The role of Canadian universities in selecting and training officers for the armed forces is an important yet overlooked chapter in the history of higher education in Canada. For more than fifty years, the University of Toronto supported the largest and most active contingent of the Canadian Officers' Training Corps (COTC), which sent thousands of officer candidates into the regular and reserve forces.


Based on the rich fund of documents housed in the university archives, Varsity’s Soldiers offers the first full-length history of military training in Toronto. Beginning with the formation of a student rifle company in 1861, and focusing on the story of the COTC from 1914 to 1968, author Eric McGeer seeks to enlarge appreciation of the university’s remarkable contribution to the defence of Canada, the place of military education in an academic setting, and the experience of the students who embodied the ideal of service to alma mater and to country.

About the author

Eric McGeer holds a PhD from the Université de Montréal and teaches at St. Clement’s School in Toronto. He is the author of Words of Valediction and Remembrance: Canadian Epitaphs of the Second World War and several books on warfare and law in ancient Byzantium.

Terry Copp is Professor Emeritus at Wilfrid Laurier University and director of the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies. He is a regular contributor to Legion Magazine and the author of numerous books including The Brigade: The Fifth Canadian Infantry Brigade in World War II, Cinderella Army: The Canadians in Northwest Europe, 1944–1945, and “Fields of Fire”: the Canadians in Normandy

Matt Symes is a PhD Student at Wilfrid Laurier University where he is studying sport and leisure in the Second World War.

Eric McGeer's profile page


  • Short-listed, 2021 Heritage Toronto Book Award

Other titles by Eric McGeer