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This high-rise condominium at the corner of Talbot and Central is the site of the former Talbot Street School. Initially constructed in 1858, it was upgraded in 1882 by a new two-storey brick building with four large classrooms. In 1892, it burned to the ground, but thankfully all 500 students present escaped with their lives and the school was again rebuilt. This school served a number of students from well-known London families and was home to London’s first kindergarten program, and London’s first Mothers’ Club. Many Talbot Street School students enlisted during both world wars while still in high school. To ease the problems of veterans readjusting to “civvy street”, the government arranged special classes for veterans and grants for paid vocational training.

Veterans in class at Talbot Street School

Veterans in class at Talbot Street School

Talbot Street School 1967-1968

Talbot Street School 1967-1968

A number of World War Two veterans returned to London who had enlisted before completing their high school studies. In response, Talbot Street School and London Central Collegiate together formed the London Tutorial School for ex-servicemen and women. To engage these students, classes were taught by former high-school teachers who were veterans themselves, and the programs emphasized individual instruction to make the return to studies seamless. The goal of the London Tutorial School was to prepare students for post-secondary education.

Concurrently, the Canadian Vocational Training program was created to help World War Two veterans, who had been away for potentially years, return to “civvy street” with job training. The program offered paid on-the-job training, classroom training in trades, and apprenticeships related to each veteran’s war experience. These training programs typically lasted between one month and one year. Each veteran enrolled in the program received a monthly grant of $60 to $130, depending on marital status and the number of children in the family. Although only a third of veterans accepted the offer of free vocational training, the program was expensive. By March 1951, the Canadian Vocational Training program had paid over $75 million to over 81 thousand veterans across Canada. “About 90 percent of those who started CVT courses completed them successfully. By late 1946 their unemployment rate was about half that of veterans in general.”

Historic Sites Committee. “Talbot Street School (Plaque No. 15): London Public Library.” Talbot Street School (plaque no. 15) | London Public Library. London Public Library. Accessed October 19, 2019.

London Free Press. April 12th, 1945.

UWO Public History 3813E 2019. “Veterans Return to High School Studies.” Spanning the Gap. Historypin, March 22, 2019.,-81.245277,11/bounds/42.852423,-81.393136,43.117138,-81.097418.

“Vocational Training on Civvy Street.” Vocational Training on Civvy Street. Ottawa, ON: Wartime Information Board, 1945.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

London Free Press, 12 April 1945

London Ontario; Past, Present, and Future