Streets named for fallen World War II soldiers

Publication Date 
03 Feb 2009

From Canadian Army News

TORONTO, Ontario – On November 4, the City of Toronto held a street sign unveiling ceremony to honour three local young men who were killed in Italy during World War II.

Spr Edward Seminoff, 24, also served with the Royal Canadian Engineers. He died in Italy on 16 October 1944, and was buried in the Cesena War Cemetery, which is in the Commune of Cesena.

The Seminoff brothers were the sons of James and Elizabeth Seminoff of Toronto.

Tpr Raymond J. Oates, 22, served with The Elgin Regiment of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps, "A" Squadron, 25th Armoured Delivery Regiment. He was killed on 12 September 1944 when the Canadians broke through the Gothic Line defence in northern Italy. Tpr Oates is buried in Florence War Cemetery, which is five kilometres east of Florence. He was the son of Albert and Gertrude Oates of Toronto and the husband of Amelia Oates.

"I think it´s very important, for the people of Toronto to honour the service, particularly of those who made the ultimate sacrifice," said Toronto Mayor David Miller. "It is a wonderful way to acknowledge their service, because it is permanent."

The newly-designed street signs are being used for the first time by the municipality. The streets are located in a new subdivision, not far from the Scarborough neighbourhood where the three soldiers grew up. The signs are unique in that they contain a red poppy in the corner to indicate they honour a fallen soldier.

The City of Toronto plans to honour the memory of 14 other area men killed during World War II by naming 12 more streets after them. The special signs will appear in Toronto over the next 18 months.

"This honour is accepted in remembrance of my family´s namesake and my dear brothers Edward and Leonard, who sacrificed their lives in World War II for the freedom we have today," said younger brother Frank Seminoff who was present at the ceremony.

Walter Seminoff, another brother, was also wounded during World War II and sent home.

All three died during Italian Campaign
Seminoff Street was named in memory of Sapper Leonard Seminoff and his brother Spr Edward Seminoff, whereas Oates Drive was named for Trooper Raymond J. Oates.

Spr Leonard Seminoff, 26, of 1st Field Squadron, Royal Canadian Engineers, was killed on 26 May 1944 during the breaching of the Adolph Hitler Line. He has no known grave but his name appears on the Cassino Memorial at Cassino War Cemetery, which is located 139 kilometres south-east of Rome. The Cassino Memorial contains the names of over 4,000 Commonwealth servicemen killed during the Italian campaign who have no known grave.

Reservists in attendance
Members of 31 Combat Engineer Regiment (The Elgins)—the successor unit of the Elgin Regiment—accepted the honour on behalf of Tpr Oates.

"The street naming is definitely a very special gesture on behalf of the city and people of Toronto" said Warrant Officer Tom Lanning.

The unveiling ceremony was also attended by veterans, schoolchildren from nearby Warden Avenue Public School, politicians and Reservists.