Written by: Angus Hamilton of Fredericton/Douglas, New Brunswick
26 June 2015
In 1945 the war with Germany ended in May and the war with Japan ended in August. This meant that most of the million men and women in the Canadian military services would be discharged soon. Thanks to persistent lobbying by The Canadian Legion, Canada prepared for the return of its service people to civilian life much better after WW II than after WW I.
DVA [The Department of Veteran’s Affairs] offered every eligible service person support for as many months of post-secondary education as they had months of service. The support included tuition and a living allowance of $60 per month for single persons and $90 per month for married persons, [In 1945 one could get by on these amounts].
All university faculties, and engineering in particular, realized that their normal facilities would be swamped. To meet this deluge the Faculty of Applied Science made arrangements to use what had been a munitions facility in Ajax. There were dormitories and rooms that could be used for classes and labs.
Up until 1945 the usual intake in Engineering had been about 400 per year – about 30 in Engineering Physics. For the fall of 1945 the Faculty of Applied Science decided to accept its usual numbers at the St George campus but it limited admission to those who had at least 30 months active service. It also arranged to accept about 1100 – about 60 in Engineering Physics – at Ajax starting in January 1946. Those who were at Ajax would finish first year in August, have a short break, and start second year in September, also at Ajax. Those who’d had a normal year at the St. George campus would join the larger group at Ajax for their second year.
Thus the Engineering Physics class of 1949 was a hybrid, approximately 30 who started in September 1945 and 60 who started in January 1946. The total number of graduates in 1949 was about 1400.
- I had enlisted in the RCAF as a radio mechanic [radar technician] in 1941 and been overseas for three and a half years, much of it in South East Asia. I had been repatriated in May 1945 so was able to start with the group at the St. George campus in September.
- In 1998 I published a book about the group I was with in South East Asia. It’s entitled: Canadians on Radar in South East Asia 1941 to 1945. It can be found on the Internet by googling the full title.
- Four of us [Bill Lower, Al Revil, Les Wood, and I] who were in the group that started in September had also received our basic training in a 13-week course at U of T in the summer of 1941. In the Engineering Physics program we took courses from three of the Physics Profs [Satterly, Welch, and Crawford] who taught the course we took in 1941.