Esquimalt High Alumni Loves Ribfest

Esquimalt High Alumni Loves Ribfest

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Vic High was 39 years old when Esquimalt High School was founded in 1915 in a classroom at Lampson Street Elementary School, with the Esquimalt School Board announcing students would follow the same curriculum as Vic High. It wasn’t long before the school was racking up firsts, notably the appointment in 1926 of Gwendolyn Nora Hewlings as the first woman principal of a B.C. high school. Students in her Latin class chose the school’s motto: Esse Quam Videri (It is better to be, rather than to seem.) In 1946, the school joined the Victoria School Board.

The Esquimalt Alumni was founded in 2006 by a dedicated team of grads, who were helped by friends active in the Vic High Alumni. “We decided to generally mirror the Vic High Alumni’s operational structure,” says Dave Allen, a Director-at-Large and former principal of Esquimalt High School. “And we’ve grown a lot in the last 18 years.” The Alumni began providing scholarships to deserving Esquimalt students in 2006, and now gives out three, $1000 scholarships, drawing from funds they’ve raised and invested to yield annual awards.

 

Rod (VHS 1968) and Marilyn McCrimmon (EHS 1971)

The Alumni charges a one-time $10 membership fee, and currently has 620 members. EHS 1971 grad and Alumni Secretary Marilyn McCrimmon, wife of Vic High alumni Rod McCrimmon, VHS 1968, publishes the Alumni’s newsletter. Events, meetings, reunions, and more – there’s plenty of information on the Alumni page of the Esquimalt High School website.  Alumni – Esquimalt High School (sd61.bc.ca). In 2015 the school celebrated its centennial, and Marilyn wrote a special piece for the Times Colonist about the school. Esquimalt High School looks back at 100 years – Victoria Times Colonist

The Alumni also set up a Foundation with the sole purpose of raising funds for the school, and does so every year at Esquimalt’s hugely popular Ribfest at Bullen Park. “We partner with the Rainbow Kitchen and the Esquimalt High School Leadership students to run a food booth selling langos and drinks,” says Dave, “and we split the profit three ways.” Rib Fest itself also raises funds, and is leading the charge for a turf upgrade at Esquimalt High School.

The school posts a great newsletter on its website for students full of info about what’s going on that week. Esquimalt_High_School_Docker_Newsletter_Apr-8-12-2024.pdf (sd61.bc.ca)  Mark your calendars for their upcoming production of Mean Girls, April 26-28 and May 3-5. And in case you’re wondering where former Vic High Vice-Principal Chris Koutougos went, he’s at Esquimalt High, contributing, we’re sure, his great ideas and his enthusiasm to the culture there.

So if you know someone who went to Esquimalt High School, now École Secondaire Esquimalt High School offering French Immersion, encourage them to join the Esquimalt High School Alumni Association. And definitely tell them about those crowd-pleasing langos every year at RibFest.

1963 Black and Gold Turned Black and Blue

1963 Black and Gold turned Black and Blue

Dave McFarlane

By King Lee, VHS 1958

In April of 1963, five Vic High buddies turned Black and Gold into black and blue. In the spring of that year, United States President John F. Kennedy felt that Americans were not in good shape physically and he challenged his citizens, particularly American youth, to get fit. A 50-mile walk in a maximum time of 20 hours, dubbed the JFK Challenge, then sprang up across the U.S. and spilled over into Canada. Thousands of teen-agers took up the challenge, including several groups from Vic High and other schools. The most popular route on Vancouver Island was from Chemainus to Victoria.

 

Bruce Barrick

Vic High friends Dave McFarlane, Dave Macmillan, Peter Bolli, Bruce Barrick and Doug St. Arnault, all Vic High Class of 1964, joined the walk. “I don’t know which one (of us) mentioned it,” said Dave McFarlane, who now resides in Nanaimo. They had been friends for years and had all landed at Vic High from Central Junior High School. The 50-mile walk was calculated to finish outside the old Daily Colonist and Victoria Times building in the 2600-block of Douglas Street. (The papers were separate morning and afternoon daily newspapers then, merging in 1980 to become the current Times Colonist.)  It was also convenient if the newspapers wanted to interview and photograph the participants, they thought. Dave McFarlane recalls thinking, “We can do this, nothing to it!” This despite the fact they were smokers.

Fellow classmate, Marian Sieradzan drove them to Chemainus at 3 AM that April morning and they began walking. “Starting out, says Dave McFarlane, “ and believing we were physically up to accomplishing this walk, perhaps in record time, we covered the first five miles in about an hour.” Forty-five miles to go, they thought, a piece of cake, so they took a smoke break. They proceeded at a more leisurely pace, smoking the occasional cigarette and making a few jokes along the way. Then, at the northern tip of the Malahat, the pain hit.

Doug St. Arnault

“Our group was getting pretty strung out,” says Dave, “and forgetting  our initial ‘all for one and one for all’ spirit, It was really everyone for themselves.” Dave McFarlane, muscles screaming for him to stop, stuck out his thumb and quickly got a ride back to Victoria and crashed on his bed. When he woke, he called a couple of his friends and found out they had done the same thing.

However, Dave Macmillan and Bruce Barrick, who was probably in the best physical shape of all of them, had stayed together and made it to Victoria in under 20 hours, then had their picture taken for the next day’s newspaper. Unbelievably, Dave Macmillan had worn Hush Puppies (soft shoes of the day made for ordinary everyday wear) for the trek. He recalled that the director of the YMCA was at the Malahat when they were going through and gave them a bowl of soup. It was there that Dave felt the most pain.

When he arrived at the newspaper building, Dave remembers that his parents were not able to pick him up because they were working, so he had to take a bus back to his Fairfield home. He said he almost crawled home from the bus stop. “I was so stiff,” he remembers. Bruce actually went ice skating at the Memorial Arena that evening (now the Save-On Memorial Centre), but Dave definitely needed a few days for his blisters to heal.

Marian Sieradzan

“As I think back on their accomplishment,” says Dave McFarlane, “I’m reminded of that terrific movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Alec Guiness leading his men and whistling the Colonel Bogey March as they entered the prisoner of war camp. Perhaps if we have another reunion for the class of 1964 and Bruce and Dave attend we can whistle that tune as they  enter.”

Dave McFarlane remembers that that fateful morning of Nov. 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated while in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. Pretty much everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news. “We were given the news,” says  Dave, “and school was dismissed that day at lunchtime.”

Students’ First Tours of Vic High April 5, 2024

Students’ First Tours of Vic High April 5, 2024

Happy Vic High Leadership Students help lead classmate tours.

Finally! Vic High students inside the real Vic High. Teachers and staff had spent two hectic days getting classrooms organized, and were very excited to introduce their students to this stunning ‘new’ school. Bright hallways shone, new collaboration spaces beckoned, and many heritage touches did not go unnoticed by eager students.

860 students had gathered early in the Memorial Stadium, waiting for teachers to gather them up and lead them inside where Vic High Alumni members were on hand to greet them as they made their way to homeroom classrooms. Principal Aaron Parker’s voice rang throughout the school, welcoming students and directing them to their first  Tour Station. Teachers and alumni co-presented information at each station, as Leadership Students led the groups throughout the school to each station. By 12:30 it was time for Fernwood Pizza slices and Jones sodas in the Multi-Purpose room.

Principal Parker and former Vic High Principal and active Alumni member Keith McCallion shared heartfelt stories in the Auditorium about the spirit of Vic High, the alumni whose names appear on plaques where students were seated, and the unique culture of our school. Alumni members were thrilled to co-present and share a bit of their history at Vic High:  Randi Falls and Keith Forshaw, former Principals, Alumni Board members Helen Edwards, 1964, Roger Skillings, 1968, Ian McKinnon, 1966, Nita Loudon, 1966, Linda Baker, 1969, and active volunteers Mary Anne Skill, 1975, King Lee, 1958, and Pam Madoff, 1972.

Students were very happy, there were smiles everywhere, and were very impressed with their new digs. Many dropped into the new Archives and Museum, where volunteers are already welcoming opportunities to share Vic High’s World War 1 history with Grade 10 students, and to work with students who have already volunteered for Archives projects. Alumni Association members were thrilled to be participating. “It was a wonderful experience,” says Board Chair Helen Edwards, VHS 1964. “I got to speak with so many students who were very interested in the Alumni, in what we do, and who want to be on the email list to receive our newsletter.”

It was an extraordinary, amazing day. Just 15 days short of a full 110 years after Vic High students walked on April 20, 1914 to their new Vic High from their old school on the grounds of Central School. April 8 classes resume at Vic High Fernwood and it will be hectic at first. This school is so much bigger and better equipped than temporary S.J. Willis (Vic High Topaz Campus) had been, and none of the current students had ever set foot inside this Vic High. But so many wonderful new opportunities for students abound here: robotics programs, broadcast media lab, astronomy viewing deck/outdoor classroom, two gyms and an auditorium, an expanded Learning Commons (library), genderless washrooms, a new turf field with numerous volleyball courts adjacent, an attached community centre, and so much more. And yes, Virginia, there will be tours. But first, we let Vic High staff and students catch their breath and get on with their learning priorities. Stay tuned!

Auditorium presentation

VP Sara Reside & students,  Leadership students, Some happy Grade 12 students

Astronomy viewing deck/outdoor classroom

Drama room, Pam (drama teacher) and Keith Forshaw, alumnus & former Vic High Principal

         

Students, and alumnus Ian McKinnon, 1966, in the Learning Commons (library)

       

Presentations in the Multi-Purpose Room – also attached to the new Community Centre

   

Welcome Room, Sam Spetter, Careers, and Inclusive Ed. teacher Christine Trumpy, and Freida.

     

Former Princpal Randi Falls, Admin staff Nicky Reid and Brigitte Ackinclose

       

Heritage Classroom, some happy students, the Girls’ Entrance (east side of bldg)

       

Fairey Tech Concourse, ramp.  Fernwood entrance with indigenous-inspired artwork.

     

 

The Art of Our Camosuns

The Art of Our Camosuns

by Ronnie Lowe, VHS 1968

Meaningful and creative artwork has been a part of many Camosun yearbooks over the years, encouraged and developed by students and staff. Numerous cover designs and interior artwork starting with the first Camosun in 1905 and continuing to the 2000s, included constructive, imaginative, and thoughtful artwork. Many art illustrations and sketches helped the staff and students to visually appreciate more fully their many special curricular and extra curricular school moments at Vic High.

For example, the 1968 Camosun cover was designed so the numbers 68 stood out from the cover. It was a very creative way to highlight the school year and a very interesting departure from a cover with a flat surface. And inside the Camosun, the Fine Arts department described itself this way:

“Education through visual experience, and painting in the basic concepts of visual communication, are general aims of the art department under the direction of Mr. Hemming. Transmission and reception of ideas through all media relying on visual senses will result in greater clarity of expression and will eventually become a truly international language.”

The 2002 Camosun cover shows a very colourful illustration of a drop of water about to fall into the bluish and yellow water swirling below. It sends a meaningful message which relates to our school motto, also shown on the cover, and was created by student Caitlin Quigley. The new drop of water seems to represent our effort, which will affect the current ripples in the water as powerfully as the impact of our personal, educational, spiritual, and social perspectives on the world around us. We are confident that our perspectives will have a constructive impact on our personal world, and this is our reward. The cover of this Camosun is a very meaningful one where Caitlin’s art reinforced the significance of our Vic High motto: Palma Non Sine Pulvere / No Reward Without Effort.

I’ve chosen just two Camosun covers to highlight above, but I encourage you to peruse any and all of our Vic High Camosuns, available here on this website. The heart and creativity of Vic High students shines through on every cover, an assurance that art will continue to be an essential part of the Vic High experience and of each year’s very memorable Camosun yearbook.

And from the Archives & Museum Volunteers

The Camosuns are the most important items in the Vic High Archives and Museum. From 1905 until 1927, Camosuns were published every month throughout the year. The Vic High Archives collection includes as many of these as have been donated or are available. The  University of Victoria Archives has a collection of these as well, and scanned copies of their collection are included on this website. UVic was founded in 1903 within the Victoria High School’s third building at Yates and Fernwood, then occupied the fourth floor of the 1914 Grant Street Building. UVic is the oldest post-secondary institution in BC.

Starting in 1928, the Vic High Camosuns became an annual publication. They chronicle the life of Vic High and our students, and become each year’s definitive record of Vic High life that year. Two Preservation Camosuns representing every available month and year are stored in acid-free archival boxes in the Vic High Archives and Museum, and are never touched. In addition, two Research Camosuns are available on the Archives shelves, and surplus copies, where available, can be obtained from the Archives.

The Vic High Archives and Museum and its 10,000-item collections are located on the Main Floor, east side, in Room 123. The collections were first gathered up and accessioned starting in 1975 by Vic High 1942 alumna and Vic High teacher, Faith Reimer, after whom the rooms were named. Her son, Derek Reimer, is a 1965 Vic High alumnus, and he and his mother are featured in a story on this website.  Derek Reimer, VHS 1965 A Family Legacy in Education and History – Victoria High School Alumni Association (vichigh.com)

 

 

 

 

 

Geoff Arundell & Gordon Eekman, A Lifelong Vic High Friendship

Geoff Arundell & Gordon Eekman,

A Lifelong Vic High Friendship

by Gerald Pash, VHS1962

Throughout high school we make dozens of acquaintances. Some are temporal friends and others come and go with little notice. Then comes the question, “Where are they now?” For most it is a passing interest. That has certainly not been the experience of Geoffrey Arundell and Gordon Eekman, both from the Class of 1958.

Geoffrey and Gordon met at Victoria High School in 1956. For 67 years they never asked that question, “Where is he now?” because they maintained close contact for nearly seven decades sharing significant life experiences throughout.

Geoffrey Arundell died September 14, 2023 at the age of 83. He and Gordon both attended Victoria College and the University of British Columbia between 1958 and 1976. Geoffrey became a medical doctor and Gordon a teacher, scientist and researcher.  Both made significant contributions to society at large.

During his life Geoffrey trained, studied and practised at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, in general practice in Terrace, B.C., at Toronto Western Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital Vancouver, BC Children’s Hospital, and Lion’s Gate Hospital. Beyond general practice he was qualified in 1975 as anaesthesiologist. He retired from medical practice in 2013.

Describing their lifelong friendship, Gordon Eekman states, “After I married, Geoff became a friend of my family. We continued to meet from time to time for meals and events. For a time, my family and I moved to Ottawa where I worked at the Defence Research Board. About the same time Geoff moved to Toronto where he worked at the Toronto Western Hospital. We would meet occasionally in Ottawa and Toronto.”

Eventually Geoff and Gordon’s family moved back to Vancouver. Geoff studied Anaesthesiology at St. Paul’s Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital and worked at Lion’s Gate Hospital until his retirement in 2013.

Over the years Geoff and Gordon met for meals, attended lectures together at the Vancouver Planetarium, TRIUMF, the UBC nuclear research facility, and the Life Sciences Centre. “Every August,” says Gordon, “Geoff, my wife Saranya, and I would attend musical events at the Harmony Arts Festival.”  Gordon had met his second wife in Thailand where they married in December 2002. “I was particularly pleased that Geoff was present at Saranya’s Canadian citizenship ceremony in 2013,” says Gordon.

“Every Christmas, we would gather to help Geoff decorate his Christmas tree in West Vancouver,” Gordon continues. “Geoff was a gentleman, a gentle soul. It was always easy to talk with him about anything. There was a genuine dialogue of speaking and listening in all our conversations.  What we would say to each other had content, had substance and was never frivolous.” Geoff and Gordon last met on September 8, 2020 for a farewell dinner at Ambleside, West Vancouver, a few days before Geoff moved to Victoria where he died on September 14, 2023 at Douglas Care.  Geoffrey’s obituary. 

In addition to his lifelong friendship with Geoff, Gordon recalls his time at Vic High as having prepared him well for university. He was driven by the challenge of a particular teacher who advised him that he did not have the ability to attend university, even though he was listed on the Honour Role in his Grade 11 year. Gordon also participated in the United Nations Club, Glee Club and the Future Teachers Club.

He went on to achieve four university degrees from the University of British Columbia (BSc, BA, MSc and MA).  That led him to a career in science, research, and post secondary education and a life that included a world of travel throughout Canada, Europe, the Middle East and particularly Asia.

He retired from Thompson Rivers University in 2000. He now spends much of his time creating personal illustrated study packages about various topics which he makes available on the internet. He maintains his own YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@GordonEekman/videos where he produced a memorial to his friend Geoffrey Arundell.

His advice to current students is, “Study diligently, do your best. What you do now will make a huge difference in your future. With consistent, good marks many options will open up for you. Become involved and participate in clubs and school activities. Club activities round out the high school experience and contribute to how one perceives the world, one’s community and people in general.”

Don Smyth, VHS 1947 Vic High Teacher, Coach, Mentor

Don Smyth, VHS 1947  Vic High Teacher, Coach, Mentor

By King Lee, VHS 1958

Don Smyth features in one of my favourite memories of Victoria High School.

Near the end of my first month at Vic High in 1955, I remember entering Mr. Smyth’s classroom (for science, I think) and sitting down, expecting to strain my ears for a lesson because he was so soft-spoken. Instead, he asked if anyone in the room had a transistor radio. In 1955, cell phones and iPads weren’t even a distant possibility. They came about half a century later, and television was in its first year of colour. One boy put up his hand, leading Mr. Smyth to declare that the period would consist of listening to the World Series game between his team, the National League Brooklyn Dodgers, and the American League New York Yankees, which took place between September 28 and October 4 that year.

The radio play-by-play announcers were Vin Scully for the Walter Alston-managed Dodgers and Mel Allen for the Casey Stengel-led Yankees. It would come down to the seventh game of the best-of-seven series before the Dodgers captured their inaugural World Series, the first in seven attempts against the Yankees. Three years later – in 1958, my graduating year – the Dodgers moved from Ebbets Field to Los Angeles and the New York Giants left the Polo Grounds for San Francisco.

It was the most unique experience in my Vic High life and it never occurred again.

Don Smyth was born on March 26, 1929 in Forestburg, Alberta, a twin with sister Aileen, he graduated from Vic High in 1947, and died on May 29, 2022 at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital. His wife, Lorraine, predeceased him. His yearbook entry included this write-up:  Jovial Don makes school life much easier. Flying “Y” swimming member. Council Rep.  Rep Rugby; Rep Soccer; House Captain; Hi-Y. 

Don and Lorraine raised seven children and lived close to Patricia Bay on the Saanich Peninsula. Son Kevin followed in his father’s and earlier generations’ footsteps and taught in Greater Victoria for 37 years. He still steps into a classroom occasionally as a Teacher on Call (TOC), and described his dad as “tough, firm but fair”, adding that his parents were a good parenting team.

 

Lorraine and Don and their seven kids. L to R Kevin, Drew, Clint, Karen, Greg, Christine, Brett

Don is described by many as a man of few words, soft- and well-spoken with a voice that was seldom raised. Son Brett said his father had a very dry, playful sense of humour and a slow burn. “I remember a family fishing trip in September of 1972 east of Terrace,” Brett says, “where Dad had just taken a job at a BC school district up north. On our way home, the first Canada-Russia hockey series game was on CBC radio and the Canadians were getting shellacked by the Ruskies.” The Russians walloped the Canadian NHL all-star team, 7-3 in the first game in Montreal.  The eight-game series was eventually won by the Canadians (on Paul Henderson’s late goal in Game 8 in Moscow), four wins to three with one tied game. “Dad was driving the car faster and faster as he got more incensed by the (first game) score, not being much of a fan of the Russians,” says Brett. “If that car is still in one piece, I’ll bet one could still see the hand indentations on the steering wheel. Dad was a master of the slow burn!”

Fishing trips were memorable family experiences, though few fish were ever caught. One particular trip out near Port Renfrew, Kevin’s sister Karen fell into the water. “Dad hollered at her,” says Kevin, “in a louder-than-usual voice. ‘Get out of there, you’re scaring the fish!’ He was always entertaining.” Kevin says his dad was a very good swimmer and was the head lifeguard at Beaver, Elk and Thetis lakes near Victoria, and would take the family to the Chemainus River to swim. While training lifeguards, Don implemented the use of surfboards for speed and ease. Don would also take the family back to Alberta to visit the old homestead on a river lot along Battle Creek near Duhamel. Other relatives owned dairy and cattle farms in central Alberta and they visited those as well.

It was as a student at the University of British Columbia, where he was the swim team’s captain in his final year, that Don was introduced to volleyball.  He fell in love with the sport. He coached volleyball and mentored players for a good portion of his adult life, stressing sportsmanship and fair play above all else. Kevin remembers one volleyball tournament where Don was coaching a University of Victoria team that was not playing well. His dad left the bench and sat in the stands. Kevin said the message was received by the team.

Don started coaching Vic High volleyball teams in 1958 and led them to three provincial championships. “Mr. Smyth was such a positive influence,” recalls Anne McKeachie, VHS 1968 and a member of one of Don’s provincial high school championship teams. “He had such a joyful presence…we all wanted to be the best team for him. He was simply an all-round great person, teacher, and vice principal.” Teammate Pat (Bourne) Nalleweg, VHS 1968, wholeheartedly agrees. “I would describe him as patient, encouraging, with a calm demeanour. He brought out the best in his players.”

As a coach, Don was credited with introducing the 4-2 positioning system as well as ballet and trampoline training to help jumping skills. Kevin says it was his mother, Lorraine, who gave Don the idea of using ballet for volleyball training.

Kevin says his father coached the B.C. men’s team to a gold medal in the inaugural Canada Games in Quebec City. But his contribution to the sport went well past coaching. He was the first elected president of the Canadian Volleyball Association (now Volleyball Canada), and in 2021 was inducted into the Volleyball BC Hall of Fame.

But volleyball wasn’t the only sport where Don excelled as a coach and mentor. He also coached the Vic High rugby team, and at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Don was appointed the Aquatics chair. At the Games, Don was introduced to Queen Elizabeth and as her official host, sat beside the reigning monarch at an event for about an hour or so. (The entire 1994 Commonwealth Games Sports Committee was inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame  in 2014.)

Don’s life touched countless Vic High students in many ways. One of son Kevin’s lasting memories of his dad were these words:

“If you are truly thankful, what do you do? You share.”

Don’s obituary is posted on our website.

Smyth-Don-1947-and-teacher.pdf (vichigh.com)

 

From Don’s 2021 Volleyball BC Hall of Fame Induction

Don began his coaching career at Victoria High in 1958 where he led the Boys and Girls teams to three provincial titles. He would later move on to become head coach of the University of Victoria Vikes and Vikettes. Don guided Team BC to a gold medal at the 1967 Canada Games in Quebec City as the team did not drop a single set the entire tournament. Don would make history by becoming the first head coach of the national women’s team at the 1967 Pan American Games. He also coached them at the inaugural 1969 NORCECA championships in Mexico. He was instrumental in organizing a world class Canada-wide volleyball tour between Russia and the United States. Don would go on to become the first elected President of the Canadian Volleyball Association (now Volleyball Canada).

Mar 8 – Digital event program feature – Click HERE to view

Mar 9 – Podcast interview w/ inductee – Click HERE to listen

Mar 10 – Video presentation + Virtual induction ceremony – Click HERE to Watch

Vic High Details Honour Its History

Vic High Details Honour Its History

Alumni volunteers are busy sorting and setting up the Archives & Museum at Vic High, as District staff install systems and furnishings and teachers start packing up for the spring break move into the school. April 4 the current Leadership Students will tour the school in preparation for leading their classmates on tours on April 5. Monday April 8, Vic High officially welcomes students and classes begin.

First floor hallway, east side (Girls’ side), with a beautiful mosaic honouring the school’s founding as you cross the threshold into the original 1914 building.

 

 

Center portion of the old 3rd floor Harry Smith Library, where the original Rhodesian Mahogany flooring was retained. This is now a collaboration/gathering space, and looks through to the original exterior railings facing Grant Street. Classrooms are on either side of this space.

 

 

 

 

East (Girls’) and West (Boys’) entrances’ new flooring. Stairs off these entrances go down to the Main (1st) floor and up to the 2nd floor south hallway – the Heritage Hallway. It features new egg-and-dart ceiling moulding, a heritage classroom in the southeast corner, and dark wood trim. Accent colours denote the floor you’re on. The 2nd floor accent colour is gold, 1st floor is medium purple, 3rd floor is dark blue, and 4th floor is light/turquoise blue.

 

 

Contrasting dark wood trim defines spaces in the Heritage Hallway. The School Office is where it always was, the World War 1 bronze memorial has been cleaned, and display cases for trophies and student and archival displays are back in position adjacent to the entrance to the Lawrie Wallace Auditorium.

 

 

The old Safe with its heavy double doors has been moved to a new location inside the new Staff Workroom, down the office-lined hallway from the School Office.

 

 

The Lawrie Wallace Auditorium would do its namesake proud, and features new lighting in the ceiling and under the balcony, gold-highlighted detailing in the moulding on the balcony face, and a new AV booth at the back of the balcony.

 

 

 

 

How cool is this! New moveable bleachers sport decorative accents, and when seen from above or closed up, honour the year Vic High was founded.

 

 

Colourful, inspiring art panels adorn the new Vining Street entrance (the Grant Street entrance remains), where you enter the (newly-renamed) Main floor of the school.

New Cheer Squad At Vic High?

New Cheer Squad At Vic High?

by Doug Puritch, VHS 1969

Photo courtesy of Mike Chornoby, VHS 1969

It was the fall of 1968 and the Vic High Tyees [senior boys soccer] were in the Colonist Cup Final against the Mount View Hornets. After an undefeated season the Tyees were hoping for a win to progress to the Island Championship, as only the winner of the Colonist Cup would advance. The cup final was being played at Topaz Park as the Athletic Park field was unplayable due to a recent fire. It was a memorable game as both schools transported hundreds of students by charter buses which gave the game a championship feel. With hundreds of Vic High fans cheering on the Tyees and singing along with the school song it was a great event. However a memorable highlight was the Beta Boy’s cheerleaders.

 

The Beta Boy’s were a service club but specialized in building school spirit. Wearing skirts and sporting the black and gold, the Beta Boys led the crowd in singing the school fight song and cheering on the team Despite this support the Tyees were defeated by a sudden death penalty shot. But the memory of the Beta Boys Cheerleaders will last forever in the pages of Vic High history.

 

And from the newsletter team…and Eric Earl, VHS 1969 for help identifying a couple of these guys

Here’s what we know about this famous cheer squad, Left to Right:

Jamie Scott, VHS 1969

Mike Chornoby, VHS 1969      Owner of  AFE Automotive Finishes and Equipment since 1974

Dave Osborn, VHS 1970

Brian Dunn, VHS 1970              Owner of  Smugglers Cove Pub in Victoria

Ron Dworski, VHS 1969            Teacher (Retired) in Campbell River, now living back in Victoria

Gerry Vanderjagt, VHS 1969    Teacher (Retired) in Campbell River

Dave Mulcahy, VHS 1969          Renovated homes, building a home in Montana

Bruce Gower, VHS 1970

We thought you might want to see who was on the Tyees that year. They look like a pretty happy bunch, despite the last-ditch goal by Mount View that snatched the Colonist Cup from their grasp.

 

Tomas Ernst, VHS 1996  Diversity In Action

Tomas Ernst, VHS 1996  Diversity In Action

By Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Sports, scholastics, the arts, practical job-ready skills…Vic High has it all. Priorities in education and extracurricular activities come and go as students’ interests and the world changes, but Vic High has always offered diverse opportunities for students. It’s that diversity that really impacted one 1996 grad, particularly the range of good opportunities in both scholastics and sports. “I have earned Bachelors and Masters degrees from universities,” says Tomas Ernst from his home in Brussels, “but they have nothing on the culture and greatness of Vic High. It was the first school I attended that I really liked.”

Tomas was at Vic High 1994 – 1996, and his main sport of choice was soccer, the Vic High Tyees.

 

 

                               

Tomas’ love of rock and roll inspired a new Vic High tradition at the time. “I ran a weekly music competition,” says Tomas. “Borrowing from local radio station the 100.3 The Q, I’d prepare a selection of music, (always rock), and students in their home room would be invited to guess the music and the artist. The Principal, [Dennis Harrigan], played the music over the PA system inside and outside the school, and would buy the winning home room a pizza lunch. Very cool of him!”

Besides the weekly music competition, Tomas has lots of great Vic High memories: hanging out with his buddy, Sam Ramsden, any class with his favourite teacher, Ms. Jillian Zaruk, soccer and hacky sack at lunchtime, and the day the principal let the students have a massive water fight outside on the lawn. Tomas took Grade 12 Drama with teacher Jackie MacDonald, and he and 20 classmates performed on stage in the Vic High Auditorium.  It wasn’t a classic play, but a 15-minute interlude. “We had each made our own creative papier mâché masks and were asked to perform as a group doing improv on stage.” Soccer and hacky sack were favourite lunchtime activities.

But Tomas figures it was the grad prank he and a few friends pulled that has to rank up there with classic Vic High grad pranks. “At the risk of self-incrimination,” laughs Ernst, “our prank took place at the Grant Street entrance to Vic High and involved over 100 feet of polypropylene rope, an enormous Budweiser beer flag, and an ‘outdoor school sign’ from a certain private school in Victoria. I’ll let readers use their imagination for the rest!”

Something in Tomas’ early life must have sparked his wanderlust, though. “For the longest time I needed to get out and see life beyond Vancouver Island,” Tomas goes on, “so life has taken me to some very cool places in East Africa, Asia, and Australia where I’ve lived and worked.” Europe is definitely on that list, too.  Tomas met his wife Sophie in Marseille when they were both working for the World Bank. “My French teachers would be proud that I finally learned to speak French, says Tomas, “although it only happened when I moved to Marseille and married a French woman.” Tomas and Sophie now have two little boys,  Lucas (5) and Gabriel (9).

                                                                                 

Tomas now lives with his family in Brussels, the heart of Europe, and enjoys travelling, fishing, jogging, directing short films, and is passionate about Liverpool Football Club. He works for the UN Migration Agency, helping fragile countries and people who have been forcibly displaced by war, violence, or disasters. “My latest assignment took me to Ukraine in February 2024,” says Tomas, “to help displaced Ukrainians two years to the day after Russia invaded Ukraine.” He shared his experiences there in a February 22, 2024 article in the Victoria Times Colonist. Power of the people: Continuing to stand with Ukraine – Victoria Times Colonist

Tomas has a younger brother, Carl Ernst, VHS 1998, who is a professor at McGill University, and an older brother, Neil Ernst (a Spectrum grad), a professor at UVic. “My boys aren’t old enough for high school,” says Tomas. “But I’d recommend Vic High, especially as it’s now blessed to have French Immersion, a great development that wasn’t possible back in 1996.”

Tomas on assignment in Ethiopia

We like to ask alumni what advice they’d give to current students. “VHS students don’t need advice from former students like me,” says Tomas. “but if I was to drop some wisdom, I would have liked to have heard this in 1996.”

“Remember that your life is NOT over if you graduate from Vic High and still don’t know what you want to do after high school,” says Tomas. ”You have LOTS of time to figure this out.” Tomas didn’t know what to do next and so he let his mother pick his UVic courses. “I went to UVic as a 17-year old boy in his first semester and I hated every minute of my lectures in human anatomy and sports medicine,” he shares. “In hindsight I probably was not ready for university, but at least that experience showed me what I definitely did not want to do as a career. So relax, parents. And kids? Do something productive, but don’t stress if it’s not clear just yet where you’re headed.”

Wise advice.

Rod McCrimmon, VHS 1968 “I’ve Got the Music In Me”

Rod McCrimmon, VHS 1968   “I’ve Got the Music In Me”

by Gerald Pash, VHS 1962

Kiki Dee’s 1974 hit must have been written for Rod McCrimmon. It’s been 60 years now, and he hasn’t stopped rocking yet.

Rod began his love affair with music at the age of 13 at Central Junior High School, playing clarinet and saxophone in the school concert band. But the guitar was a big draw so he learned that instrument as well, found a group of like-minded friends, and they formed a band.  “It was the 60’s”, says Rod, “Everyone wanted to form a band!  I’ve been playing in various bands ever since.”

Rod was at Vic High for grades 11 and 12, and fondly recalls his favourite teachers, Mr. Jamieson for Economics and Law and Tommy Mayne for History.  After-school employment in a variety of jobs led to purchasing guitars, and cars, and a career selling display advertising for the Times-Colonist newspaper. At the age of 30 he became involved in marathon running, participating in marathons and ultra-marathons. He continues to run today to maintain his fitness.

Ten years ago, he and two other Vic High grads came together to provide music for the Class of 68 40th reunion. They called their group “The Attic Boys” named after Vic High’s iconic attic. That band evolved into Undertow, a trio that can be found entertaining at Christie’s Carriage Pub, The Oaks, Mary’s Bleue Moon and other Victoria locales.

Rob Lifton, Dave Hill, Rod McCrimmon of Undertow.

UVic students reap the benefit of his love of music and years of experience via his weekly program on the university’s radio station, CFUV-FM. And now  future Vic High students will benefit from his legacy via the Rod McCrimmon Music Bursary the Alumni has established for aspiring musicians with his recent $25k donation.

“Music wasn’t my full-time career,” says Rod, “but it’s always been a large part of my life. If the bursary encourages budding musicians to continue playing past high school, full or part-time, it will be a great success. And maybe other alumni will be inspired to support future students, too.”

Meanwhile, you really should check out Undertow, where the 60’s groove lives on with Dave Hill, VHS 1968, on drums; Rob Lifton, VHS 1967 on guitar, bass and vocals, and Rod on guitar and vocals.  LiveVictoria is the best place to keep up with the local music scene, and is associated with the Royal City Music Project, a website founded by Vic High’s own Glenn Parfitt, VHS 1972, to celebrate the history of music in Victoria and beyond.

Rock on, guys!  And thanks, Rod, on behalf of all those students who will benefit from your bursary and from your lifelong love of music.

 

If, like Rod, you’re interested in establishing a scholarship or bursary for a Vic High student,  just send us an email and we’ll help you make it happen, too. The Alumni deposits the funds with the Victoria Foundation to invest in our Alumni accounts and generate interest every year for awards.

Vic High’s Francophone Night of Notables

Vic High’s Francophone Night of Notables

By Linda Baker, VHS 1969

What fun it was recently, to visit some pretty amazing students and their displays at Vic High’s Francophone Night of Notables. (A separate English Night of Notables is also held annually.) Students choose someone notable to research and present with displays, and then dress in costume to emulate their chosen notable. They interact with visiting family and friends in French (or English if necessary), sharing their enthusiasm for their chosen notable. My 11 year old granddaughter, in French Immersion at Quadra Elementary, thought it was very interesting, a taste of her eventual four years at Vic High. Here’s just a few students we had time to visit – and loved!

October, Grade 11, presented Senegalese film director and actor, Djibril Diop Mambéty.

Jenny, Grade 12, (L) chose Vic High’s francophone teacher, Jean Morrison, (R) to research and emulate. Jean heads Vic High’s language department, and co-ordinated the event.

McCarthy presented Jacques Chirac for his project, France’s President 1995 – 2007.

Madigan had a great display about her chosen notable, Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacques Cousteau’s environmental priorities captured Brian’s interest.

I loved chatting with Sebastian about his interest in Napoleon and his travels in France.

Grade 10 student, Avner, looks a lot like Charlie Chaplin.

Maya, Grade 10, likes Adam Sandler’s humour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annie, Grade 10, thinks more people should know about Roberta Bondar’s accomplishments in space.

Princess Diana remains an important and very interesting person to Kara.

Loukas, Grade 10, loves jazz, plays in the Vic High Jazz Band. So Sonny Rollins was an easy choice for his notable person.

Matisse, Grade 9, chose a 17th C female Asian pirate as her notable person project.

Totems Alumni Champs Honoured

Past Totem Champs Honoured at Vic High Basketball Tournament

by King Lee, VHS 1958

(photos and videos courtesy of Anne McKeachie, 1969, Carolyn Hammond, 1969, Mary Anne Skill, 1975, Linda Baker, 1969, Vic High students and staff)

Ian McLean, VHS 1969, tosses the 1969 Championship game ball for the ceremonial tip-off.

Thirteen former Victoria High Totems’ players visited the school’s Topaz campus January 19,  to be honoured at a Vic High/Parkland game, part of the Vic High-hosted Senior Boys Basketball Hardwood Tournament. Vic High staff and students rolled out the red carpet with reserved courtside seating and snacks, and current Totems welcomed alumni players as they arrived before the game.  Totems players then formed an honour guard that each Totem alumni passed through as they were individually introduced to thunderous applause by Athletics Director Matt Phillips. The 1969 BC Champs game ball featured in the ceremonial tip-off, thrown high by team member Ian McLean.

Ian McLean, 1969, Ron Dworski, 1969, and Roger Skillings, 1968, are greeted ahead of the game by members of the 2023/24 Vic High Totems.

 

 

 

 

 

Neil Worboys, VHS 1962

Eric Walker, VHS 1966

Neil Worboys, VHS 1962, drove down from Qualicum Beach for the game, proudly wearing his championship Totems jacket.  Drew Schroeder, Al Glover, Rodney Fields, Eric Walker and Len Roueche represented the 1966 championship team, and Roger Skillings represented the 1968 team. Eric Walker and Len Roueche wore their black Championship sports jackets embroidered with a gold totem and the words ‘BC Champions  Totems  Basketball 1966’. The 1969 BC Championship Totems present were Barrie Moen, Mike Chornoby, Eric Earl, Ron Dworski, Ian McLean and Dave Mulcahy.

Anne McKeachie, VHS 1968, Carolyn Hammond, VHS 1969, Mary Anne Skill, VHS 1975, and Linda Baker, VHS 1969, all attended the game as well to support their classmates and cheer on the current team.

“It was cool,” said Neil,  laughing as he recalled that he was part of a Canadian junior men’s basketball championship team in 1964 with former Vancouver College Fighting Irish players who had been mortal enemies just two years earlier. Drew, a retired lawyer, agreed with Neil. “I think it’s pretty neat,” he said of the invitation and honour.

Vic High Principal Aaron Parker (Left back corner) and Athletics Director Matt Phillips (Left front corner) join Totems alumni and current players before the game.

                                       

Asked what he thought of the basketball he was watching from courtside, Drew said it was a different game from his playing days at Vic High. He said the addition of the shot clock (30 seconds to hit the rim or score) has made it a “one-and-done” type of game.

The Vic High Beginning Dance class performed at quarter time, complete with branded Vic High clothing and black, gold and white pom poms. The Creative Dance team was also cheered on by students in attendance at half-time.

“The school has done such a wonderful job bringing back the memories and nostalgia,” said Barrie. And it was clear these former Totems were impressed by the appreciation and respect shown them by current Totems, students and staff.

 

       

Current Totems headed straight for the Totems’ alumni after the game, thanking them for coming to support them, as alumni congratulated team members on a great game.

Front row, L to R: Ian McLean, 1969, Len Roueche, 1966, Al Glover, 1966, Neil Worboys, 1962, Roger Skillings, 1968, Barrie Moen, 1969 Back row, L to R: Neil Walker, 1966, Rodney Fields, 1966, Drew Schroeder, 1966, Eric Earl, 1969, Ron Dworski, 1969, Mike Chornoby, 1969, Dave Mulcahy, 1969

And to top it all off, the current Vic High Totems team beat Parkland in a gritty 55-46 victory, finishing in the middle of the pack when the tournament concluded January 20. What a game! And what a welcome for Vic High alumni by current students and staff.

Some of Our Totems Alumni Running the Gauntlet

Drew Schroeder, 1966

Al Glover, 1966

Roger Skillings, 1968

Barrie Moen, 1969

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ron Dworski, 1969

Mike Chornoby, 1969

Eric Earl, 1969

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dave Mulcahy, 1969

Ian McLean, 1969

1969 alumni, L to R: Dave Mulcahy, Linda Baker, Mike Chornoby, Eric Earl, Ron Dworski, Ian McLean, Carolyn Hammond, Barrie Moen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video Links

Ceremonial Tip-Off – Ian McLean, 1969

Team Play – #9 scores 

Team Play – #9 scores again

Team Play – #4 scores

Team Play – #10 free throw scores

Pre-Game Alumni Line-Up

Peter Hing, VHS 1906 First Chinese-Canadian Grad in BC

Peter Hing, VHS 1906  First Chinese-Canadian Grad in BC

John Adams

by John Adams, VHS 1967

(Excerpt from John’s new book, Chinese Victoria: A Long and Difficult Journey)

Peter Hing (伍籍磐)

Peter Hing was born in Guantian (官田), Taishan County, China, in 1884 and moved to Victoria in May 1897 where his father, Reverend Ng Mon Hing (Wu Wenqing 伍文慶),[1] was a Presbyterian missionary. On arrival, the thirteen-year-old was registered as Ng Tuk Pun (Wu Jipan伍籍磐)[2], but adopted Peter as his Christian name and Hing as his surname. Hing was an Anglicized version of his family name (Ng in Cantonese, sometimes written Eng in English), and coincidentally his father’s first name.[3]

He attended Boys’ Central School where he was recognized for his proficiency in essay writing in 1901 and then Victoria High School where he contributed three essays to the first issues of The Camosun, the high school’s magazine.[4] He graduated in 1906, the first Chinese to complete high school in the city. At that time Vic High was located on Fernwood Road between Fort and Yates Streets, now the site of Central Middle School.

Peter Hing, from John Adams’ collection, drawn by Ainslie Heinrich, Vintage Karma

Peter then went to McGill University in Montreal. As the first Chinese student there, he later admitted that he felt he was looked upon “as a kind of curiosity” and even as “a sort of inferior being.” However, his classmates soon discovered otherwise, and treated him with “affection, respect and esteem.”[5]

During the summer of 1908 he worked for the Chinese Daily Newspaper Publishing Co. in Vancouver and served as secretary of the Anti-Opium League.[6] He returned to McGill and took part in many university activities, playing quarterback on the Law ’09 football team, and placing second in his class when he graduated in 1909, the first Chinese to graduate from McGill.[7]

On completing his studies at McGill, he returned for a visit to British Columbia and was present at the opening of the Chinese Public School in Victoria in August 1909. [See images below.) In September he went to New York City where he enrolled in graduate studies in law and political science at Columbia University.

Following graduation from Columbia in June 1910, he returned briefly to Victoria before going to San Francisco in the fall to take passage back to China.

In November 1911, immediately after the Xinhai Revolution, Peter Hing and a group of other young men who had received university educations in North America or Europe were appointed to positions in the Guangdong Military Government. Hing became the deputy minister of the Ministry of Civil Affairs and then the chief judge of the Superior Court of Guangdong, a position he held until he ran afoul of President Yuan Shi Kai after the Second Revolution broke out in 1913.

Available at Victoria bookstores, and John’s website https://discoverthepast.com

He then went into business, serving as president of several mining companies, as a director of insurance and real estate companies and a large department store. In 1918 when Sun Yat-sen formed his government in Guangzhou, Peter Hing became head of the Department of Justice. At the same time, he was the managing director of the English-language Canton Times and assisted Vancouver entrepreneur Thomas MacInnes in obtaining the franchise for the Kwongtung Tramway Company to build and operate a tramway system in Guangzhou. Members of the Provincial Assembly of Guangdong criticized him for managing private commercial ventures while serving as a civil servant, which was contrary to government regulations.[8] In 1920 he travelled to North America, including a visit to Victoria, to purchase equipment for the tramway company.[9]

In 1915 Peter married Hawaii-born Jiang Fuzhen (a.k.a. Lillian Kong), a graduate of Honolulu High School and the University of California, who was described as “one of the ardent workers for the reform of South China.”[10] In 1920 Peter’s father, Rev. Ng Mon Hing, returned to stay in China and was living in Guangzhou with his son when he died in 1921.[11]

During the 1920s Peter Hing remained active in the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) and took part in reunions of the Returned Students’ Club in Guangzhou. As late as 1938 he also owned a hotel in the city. His date and place of death are subjects of further research but it is believed Peter Hing moved to Hong Kong in his later years.[12]

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] Cantonese: Ng Mon Hing; Pinyin: Wu Wuqing; traditional: 伍文慶; simplified: 伍文庆.

[2] Cantonese (from Head Tax): Ng Tuk Pun; Cantonese (Jyutping): Ng Zik Pun; Pinyin: Wu Jipan; traditional and simplified: 伍籍磐. Thanks to Lily Chow for advice on Peter Hing’s Chinese name. Verification of Chinese characters from Yeung Wing Yu, “Guangzhou, 1800–1925: The Urban Evolution of a Chinese Provincial Capital” PhD diss., University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1999, pp. 241 and 378.

[3] Chinese Head Tax Register, serial number 24285. He arrived in May 1897, but was not registered until July 9. As a student and the son of a Christian clergyman, Peter Hing was exempt from paying the $50 head tax.

[4] Peter L. Smith, Come Give a Cheer, p. 35.

[5] Victoria Times, May 16, 1909, p, 10.

[6] Peter Hing to W. L. Mackenzie King, May 29, 1908, cited in William Lyon Mackenzie King, Report on the Need for the Suppression of the Opium Traffic in Canada, Ottawa: King’s Printer, 1908.

[7] Colonist, May 2, 1909, p. 7; May 13, 1909, p. 15; May 30, 1909, p. 11. Thanks to the staff at McGill University Archives for confirming that Peter Hing attended McGill from 1906 to 1909 and graduated in law.

[8] Yeung Wing Yu, “Guangzhou, 1800–1925: The Urban Evolution of a Chinese Provincial Capital” PhD diss., University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1999, p. 247.

[9] Peter Hing arrived in Victoria on Feb. 9, 1920 aboard SS Empress of Asia.

[10] Colonist, Jan. 19, 1915, p. 6.

[11] Mona-Margaret Pon, “Ng Mon Hing”, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. XV.

[12] McGill News, vol. 1, no. 2 (March 1920), p. 27; Colonist, Feb. 10, 1920, p. 17.

 

From the Vic High Archives and Museum

We’re thrilled to have John’s article on the website. His long-awaited book, Chinese Victoria: A Long and Difficult Journey, is considered a definitive work and is available at Victoria bookstores and from his website – Discover the Past Walking Tours | Ghostly Walks & History Tours in Victoria. Peter Hing’s essays are the lead articles in the February 1906 Camosun, and the May 1906 Camosun – available on the Camosuns page of this website. John’s research is extremely thorough, and though there were other Chinese-Canadian students in the province, John believes Peter was the first to graduate from a BC high school. We also extend a big thank you to John for making a donation for a commemorative plaque in Peter’s name in the Vic High Auditorium.

 1909 Opening of Victoria’s Chinese Public School 

Image M06930 courtesy of City of Victoria Archives

Chinese Public School today, 636 Fisgard Street, Victoria

Peter did not attend the school but was present at the opening and gave a speech. John believes, though not 100% certain, that Peter Hing is the young man in the middle of the second row wearing the top hat. At any rate, he was definitely in attendance that day.

 

Senior Boys’ Volleyball: After Five Years, Their Last Spike Together

Senior Boys’ Volleyball: After Five Years, Their Last Spike Together

By King Lee, VHS 1958

From Grade 7 through to their 2024 graduation, five Vic High volleyball players have now driven their last spike together. Van Dazo, Eighan Entac, André Moneda, Mark Menor and Beaver Luchina have finished in style, helping the Vic High Senior Boys’ team capture the Victoria City Championship and Vancouver Island Championship before finishing eighth overall in the recent B.C. tournament. Grade 12 students Leo Looi, Ranier Gomez and Lebronne Peralta, and Grade 11 student Andrew Janz rounded out Vic High’s team. The volunteer coach was Bethany Murphy with assistance from Gerard Mu and Nick Baker-Bell and team manager Gordon Sleen.

But two extraordinary accomplishments set this team apart. First, it’s been 48 years since a Vic High Senior Boys’ Volleyball team last won the Island Championships. With student interest in volleyball on the rise for a number of years now, clearly Vic High’s passion and skill development over that time are paying off. Second, and some might think this the most important award of all, the Vic High Senior Boy’s and Girls’ Volleyball teams won the local Fair Play award. Refs give out green cards during regular games for fairness and sportsmanship. The number of cards earned by each school are added up, and this year Vic High came out on top. There can’t be any better endorsement of the Vic High culture than an award like this.

The nine-member Senior Boys’ Volleyball team also called up Grade 10 students Myles Morisseau, Haroun Zahra and Cole Niedjalski for early competitions and provincials this year. “They gave us some insurance against injuries,” said coach Bethany, “and were highly valued team members when we won the Spectrum [Community School-hosted] Spikes and Aces Tournament in September.”

The team had achieved success in 2021, winning both the City and Island junior championships. And last season finished second in the City and Island championships, and 12th at the BC Provincials. Clearly their enthusiasm, their skill, and their team spirit far outweighed their height. Most players are five feet seven or eight inches tall. Only Coach Bethany’s son Andrew at six feet, two inches, matches the height of players on many other teams.

Vic High and Esquimalt were the only Island representatives at the 16-team provincial championship (Nov. 29 to Dec. 2) and, ironically, they met in the opening playoff round. Vic High defeated Esquimalt, 25-18, 25-21 and 25-19, but bowed out to host Langley Christian School, 25-20, 25-19, 25-17, in the second round. In the game to determine seventh and eighth places, Vic High lost to Surrey Christian 31-29 (in a marathon), 25-19. Esquimalt beat W. L. Seaton of Smithers in the consolation round. The provincial title went to South Kamloops, winners over Abbotsford Christian in the championship game. But it’s clear the entire school was rooting for the boys, watching them play via live streaming from the tournament. Talk about school spirit!

                 

 

With athletics not funded by the Ministry of Education or school district, it falls to teams and their coaches and parents to raise the funds to cover the cost of tournaments and travel. Several alumni responded to the call in the Alumni’s November newsletter, and the Alumni Board also contributed $1,000 towards the costs.  “The team would like to thank the Vic High Alumni Association for their support!” said Bethany, “and Vic High Athletic Director Matt Phillips and Vic High Accounts Clerk Carol Jessa for all of their help and support this season.”

Alan Lowe, VHS 1979 Activism Is His Passion

Alan Lowe, VHS 1979  Activism Is His Passion

By King Lee, VHS 1958

It has been 45 years since Alan Lowe had balloons raining down into the Vic High Auditorium from the venerable school attic in his campaign for Prime Minister of the Vic High Parliament [student council] for the 1978-79 school year. “Mr. [Principal Duncan] Lorimer wasn’t too happy,” Alan laughs, “but I won.”

Alan played field hockey at Vic High and was a member of the chess club. He remembers popular science teacher Mr. Blasner as one of his favourites. “Vic High, I think, was very valuable to me,” says Alan, a sentiment that continues to this day. Since graduation he’s been an avid supporter of the Vic High Alumni, heading up the 2008 Vic High Homecoming week-end, helping organize Class of 1979 reunions, and always cheering for Vic High.

In the 1979 Vic High Camosun yearbook, his write-up stated: “Alan was our Prime Minister this year and was bothered by school apathy and the number of stairs VHS has. He hopes to retire at 30 and says, ‘Life cannot be any easier than now, so make the most of it.’ (Like Heck!!)”

Surprising as it was to learn that Alan even knew the word “apathy,” he did fail miserably at his goal of retiring at 30. (like most of us do!) He obtained his Masters degree in Architecture in 1985, and continues in the field to this day. In 1990 he was elected to Victoria City Council, and in 1999 became the city’s first mayor of Chinese descent. He held the position until 2008.

Boys’ Field Hockey Team Because the yearbook was sent in at the end of March, we were unable to tell how the boys did in the league. However, with an enthusiastic group of players under the coaching of Miss Hanslip, we hope for a good season. Standing L-R: Steve Ashwell, Shawn Coates, Jack Leung, Mike Bourne, Harjit Nandhra, Gordon Wilson, Wayne Russell, Paul Sapsford, Marc Gaudet, Mark Haliday, Albert Low. Kneeling L-R: Miss Hanslip (coach), William So, Doug Crouch, Alan Lowe, Don Descoteau.

Along the way, Alan was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for community service in 2003 and was listed in the Top 100 Most Influential Chinese Canadians of 2006. He was also named an honorary Citizen of Victoria in 2018 and honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the Canadian Scottish Regiment in 2020.

Alan’s life of activism and advocacy, started with his Vic High experiences, continues still, as he shows off the Victoria Chinatown Museum in Fan Tan Alley he helped launch in early 2020. He is past chair of the society which runs the museum that’s drawn many visitors since opening.

In early 2020, Alan was asked by the provincial government to be part of a working group which included John Adams, VHS  Thomas Chan and Winnie Lee, to explore the feasibility of a provincial Chinese museum. All four are founding directors of the Victoria Chinatown Museum Society.  Its Board of Directors includes Dr. Grace Wong Sneddon, Robert Fung, Kyman Chan, Ronald Greene, Kevin Sing, Dana Hutchings and Michelle Urquhart.

On July 16, 2020, Premier John Horgan announced a $10 million grant to establish a Chinese Canadian museum, a first in Canada. Alan said it made sense to have it based in Vancouver, but proposed Victoria should have a satellite location because it is the home of the oldest Chinatown in Canada which has national heritage status.

The Chinese Canadian Museum Society was formed, based in Vancouver, and Alan and John (Adams) from the Victoria board were also appointed to the provincial board. “We’ve had some differences,” he acknowledged, “and it’s been a tight-rope act to serve on the two boards.” But it’s all working out.

The Vancouver-based board of the Chinese Canadian Museum has hired former Victoria councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe to work part-time at the Fan Tan Alley Museum. The Victoria group has about 30 volunteers, Alan said.

He was most excited about the Victoria Chinatown Museum Society receiving charitable status in November, which he says should help with fund-raising efforts.

A curatorial committee decides what to display at the museum, located at 10-14 Fan Tan Alley, and some changes are forthcoming. One of the new displays features the late Tony Eng, a well-known Victoria magician. Tony’s daughter, Julie, who is also a magician, travelled to Victoria from her Toronto home, to attend the official unveiling of the display on December 7.

The Victoria Chinatown Museum in Fan Tan Alley is open Thursdays to Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and entry is presently by donation. Inquiries can be made to 250-382-9883.

Neil Worboys, VHS 1962 Lifelong Education Advocate

Neil Worboys, VHS 1962    Lifelong Education Advocate

By Gerald W. Pash, VHS 1962

 

Neil Worboys, VHS 1962 has been an advocate for British Columbia’s education system throughout his entire life. Initially as the President of the Victoria High School Student Council 1961-62 and later as President of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation, Neil has profoundly influenced education in B.C.

NEIL WORBOYS—Our amiable Council President, Neil is an active member of the Alpha Hi-Y, and one of Div. 3’s melodious Grad Choir types. He was an outstanding player on both the victorious Totems and the Senior Soccer Teams. After graduation Neil plans to team up with that redhead in Pharmacy. [Neil was also a Prefect.]

At Vic High, Neil was a member of the BC Championship Totems Basketball team, the Colonist Cup-winning Tyees Senior Boys’ Soccer team, and a member of the Senior Boys’ Rugby team that won the Howard Russell Cup. Apparently he was also a Prefect, in Alpha Hi-Y, and in the Grad Choir. Busy guy!

 He attended Victoria College and then transferred to the University of BC School of Pharmacy and later the Faculty of Science, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Zoology in 1968.  During his studies, he played basketball with the Vancouver CYO Saints that won the Junior Men’s Canadian championship in 1964. Like many students of the day, Neil then took a gap year after graduating from UBC. He worked at Alcan in Kitimat and hitchhiked around Europe with Doug Cashin, VHS 1962. After a year of teacher training, he was hired to teach science and biology at Mount Elizabeth Secondary School in Kitimat where he coached basketball, soccer and wrestling and in 1975 was appointed head of the science department.

In the late 1970’s he took an active role in the BC Teacher’s Federation as chair of the Provincial Collective Bargaining Committee.  With a four-year leave of absence from teaching in 1986 he took employment at the BCTF head office in Vancouver to implement the BC Government’s legislation that allowed teachers to unionize and establish a collective bargaining procedure.  He returned to teaching in Kitimat in 1990. In 1996 he pursued the political side of the BCTF when he was elected to the Executive Committee as a member at large.  In 2000 he was elected to First Vice President and became President in 2002, a position he held for two years.

A change in government in 2001 heralded a tumultuous time in British Columbia Schools. The Provincial Government nullified portions of the teachers’ collective agreement related to class size, composition, and specialty teachers and simultaneously moved to take control of the BC College of Teachers thereby removing teachers’ role as self-governing professionals.

During his time with the BCTF, Neil led the teachers’ opposition to legislation changing working conditions.  He challenged the government’s imposition of a contract that included a three-year wage freeze benefit improvement or professional development.  He advocated for the restoration of local bargaining; arguing that the provincial system was not working for teachers or students.  He supported the teachers’ right to strike and defended teachers’ civil disobedience and refusal to pay the fines imposed by the Labour Relations Board.  Primarily, he promoted the importance of public education and the role of teachers in society and spoke out against government policies that favoured privatization and standardization. Moreover, he fostered a collaborative and democratic culture within the BCTF and encouraged the involvement of members in decision-making and advocacy.  He also maintained good relations with other unions and education stakeholders.   He was a sought-after participant in national and international forums on education issues.

Retiring in 2004, Neil lives in Qualicum Beach with Jackie whom he met in Kitimat and married 52 years ago.  In retirement, he has enjoyed playing basketball at the World Masters level earning silver medals in Australia (2009) and Italy (2013), last playing in New Zealand (2017).  He also plays competitive soccer at the 55+ level and last year traveled to Denmark to play in an over 75 World Tournament.  For the past decade,  he has participated with three other seniors in an annual wilderness adventure where they are flown into an area by helicopter and spend a week with wildlife. He serves the community as a director of the Qualicum Beach Stream Keepers, and the Qualicum Beach Community Garden Society.

Derek Reimer, VHS 1965 A Family Legacy in Education and History

Derek Reimer, VHS 1965  A Family Legacy in Education and History

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Even on vacation in Ireland, Derek proudly sports his Vic High cap.

“Vic High did all of us a powerful lot of good.”

These simple but compelling words are a testament to Derek Reimer’s long-standing family connection to Vic High, and part of the reason he continues to support the Vic High Alumni with his time and his donations. “Vic High is part of my family history,” says Derek. “Our family has been at Vic High since the nineteen-teens.”

But that’s not the only reason Derek is so committed to Vic High. “Public education is so important for the economy, for our democracy, for our social values,” he goes on, “and is a much better education model than private schools. Supporting public education helps level the playing field.”

Derek may have preferred summer and winter school breaks to actually being in class at Vic High, but still he liked school. “I was a happy student,” says Derek. “I had no negative experiences. Most of the teachers were great and the rest were tolerable,” he laughs. He took advantage of almost all the sports offered, and was on every team except basketball. That included soccer, rugby, track and field, and volleyball. “We won the Senior Boys Volleyball BC Championship that year,” says Derek, “and I was given the MVP and Outstanding Setter awards.” Not to limit his options, Derek also sang in the choir and played percussion in the Vic High Band. “I had a starring role in one performance,” he remembers, “playing the hot water bottle like a cymbal.” We’re not quite sure where he found the time to also represent Vic High as a member of its Reach for the Top team, the CBC-broadcast academic quiz show for high school students.

VicHigh Volleyball 1965 BC Champions

     

After graduation, Derek earned a B.Sc. in Geography at UVic, then a M.A. in Historical Geography at Queen’s University. “That’s where I met my wife, Maxine,” says Derek, “standing in line to register for our Masters degrees. A year later we were married, and had survived a whirlwind year where both of us earned our Masters’ degrees in very short order.”  Maxine’s degrees were all in Psychology, and part of her work career was spent as a school psychologist in School District 61 Victoria.

“One of my summer jobs had been at the BC Archives,” explains Derek, “in their Oral History department. A job came up there so I applied and got it, and spent 20 years at BC Archives. I loved it…a dream job, because I got paid to pursue my natural interest in history and all things local.” He became head of the Sound and Moving Image division at BC Archives, then head of Policy and Planning, and eventually developed an interest in Government Records Management. “I know it’s probably quite dry to most people,” says Derek. But that experience took him to various government ministries, and the last five years of his working career were in the Ministry of Health overseeing Records Management, the My Health Library, and the ministry’s internal Web Services.

Retirement, though, seems to be another ‘dream job’ for Derek. He and Maxine have travelled extensively, completing 35 home exchanges in eight countries on three continents. Back home, once or twice a week he helps ensure Vic High alumni are remembered by watching the obituaries, searching the Alumni’s digitized Camosuns, and passing information along to his 1965 classmate, Dawn Eby Quast, who updates the website from her home in Prince Rupert.

And who are all those family members who went to Vic High? “The first was Max Maynard,” says Derek. “He was my great-uncle, a Canadian painter and English Literature professor, and the Camosun Editor at Vic High when he graduated, in 1920.” The next generation to attend Vic High included Derek’s mother Faith, VHS 1942, and her siblings Frank, VHS 1945, Connie, VHS 1945, and Felicity, VHS 1947, as well as several cousins. Then came Connie’s kids, two of Faith’s kids (Derek, VHS 1965, and Catherine, VHS 1967), and then Derek’s son, David, now a high school teacher in Grand Forks.

Derek is particularly proud of his mother’s legacy at Vic High, the Victoria High School Archives and Museum. “She was a homemaker with a BA in History,” says Derek, “who decided to go back to school. She did her student teaching at Vic High while earning a Teaching Certificate and returned to Vic High in September 1967 to teach Social Studies, History and English.” But it was her dedication to setting up the Vic High Archives that made her famous.  In 1975, Vic High was gearing up for the 1976 Centennial Celebrations. Principal Duncan Lorimer asked Faith to set up the now award-winning Vic High Archives. “Stuff was spread around the whole school,” says Derek, “and she meticulously accessioned everything brought to her and set up the Archives on shelving built in the Fairey Tech Woodworking shop.”  Peter Smith, VHS 1949, and former UVic Classics Professor, was writing Vic High’s history, Come Give A Cheer, so records had to be organized and researched for the book. Faith died in 2010, but not before attending a tea given by the Archives in her honour where the Archives room was officially named the Faith Reimer Room. “That brought her great pleasure in the last weeks of her life and she was very proud of that,” says Derek.

Derek can’t wait to visit the new Victoria High Archives & Museum, Faith Reimer Room, and to get back into that impressive Vic High lobby. Climbing those granite stairs from Grant Street to the new second-floor Heritage Hallway and main lobby will no doubt continue to reinforce his happy Vic High memories. From Maynard on down, educators figure prominently in Derek’s family, including his father, Dave Reimer, a long-time teacher at Oak Bay High and other schools. It’s no wonder he has such respect for public education, and particularly Vic High.

Douglas Jung, VHS 1941 Enlisted in WWII Despite Discrimination

Douglas Jung, VHS 1941  Enlisted in WWII Despite Discrimination

Photo courtesy of Chinese Canadian Military Museum

By King Lee, VHS 1958

 

Lest we forget, a former Victoria High School student enlisted in the Second World War despite the fact he was not recognized as a Canadian citizen. Douglas Jung, born in Victoria on Feb. 25, 1924, was named after Victoria’s main thoroughfare. He beat racism, beat discrimination and beat a sitting Minister of Defence to become Canada’s first Chinese-Canadian Member of Parliament in 1957.

Operation Oblivion soldiers. Photo courtesy of Chinese Canadian Military Museum

Jung joined the Canadian Army and volunteered for Operation Oblivion, a group of 13 soldiers of Chinese descent that was to go to China and train 300,000 soldiers to fight the Japanese. It was originally a plan of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s wartime Special Operations Executive, and training took place near Lake Okanagan in the B.C. Interior and in Australia. Jung was an intelligence instructor. However, the plan was abruptly abandoned.

Jung is on the left. Photo courtesy of Chinese Canadian Military Museum

“Before we got into the actual operation,” Jung recalled, “a decision was made by the (Supreme) Allied Command that anything north of New Guinea would be a sphere of operation under (American) General (Douglas) McArthur. It then became a U.S.-only military operation.” Jung said the group was given two alternatives, return to Canada or remain. “We chose to remain behind because we were already there now and didn’t want to waste our training. So we were sent to New Guinea and Borneo.”

“We were people who, even denied the most fundamental rights of citizenship, acted as honourable citizens to serve our country in its hour of need,” Jung told a military reunion. “And no one can take that honour away from us.”

Full text below of Jung’s speech to military reunion.

Read more here about Jung’s life.

 

Jung Addresses 40th Anniversary of Army, Navy, and Air Force Veterans

Pacific Command, Unit 280.

The following is an abridged text of Douglas Jung`s address September 6, 1987, at the Chinese Cultural Centre, Vancouver, B.C. Canada.  This transcript was made possible with the kind permission of Sid Chow Tan who recorded the event for Roger`s Cable show, “Chinatown Today.”

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests and dear friends.

Seven years ago in Victoria, I had the honour of welcoming those who attended the reunion of the Chinese – Canadian veterans who served Canada. Tonight, in Vancouver, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of our veterans reunion. 

I take pride in the knowledge that we belong to an exclusive and special club. We paid the “no admission” fee to join this club and in fact for most of us, we even had to fight to be allowed into the Armed Forces. From a military point of view, there were not enough of us to form our battalion. Our contribution to the social and economic progress of our Chinese community was a far greater victory then any battle. The success of us veterans was entirely out of proportion to our actual numbers because after the war, we were able to demand and receive, for the first time, equality of treatment as Canadian citizens. 

Unfortunately, after some 40 years, there are many among us, particularly the younger generation and new arrivals in Canada, who are not aware that, if it had not been for our efforts to demand recognition of our status as Canadian citizens, the Chinese Community would not be as dynamic, as affluent and as welcomed as it is today. They take for granted that we have always had the right to practice any of the professions, to receive recognition for our distinction in the arts, sports, business and academic achievement. These people know nothing about the very restrictions as to where we could live and know even less that we were denied the vote and to be recognized as a political voice, and they cannot and do not understand the discrimination which the Chinese community once suffered. For those members of the younger generation, it is almost inconceivable that these social, electoral and economic values existed. 

Why should it be this way? Those of us who served during the Second World War were, on the whole, less educated, certainly less affluent or sophisticated than the present generation because we never had the opportunity or privilege that Canadians now have. And yet we took up arms and made it possible for others to follow in our footsteps. Is it too late for us to teach our children or educate our fellow citizens as to the value of what we did? I can tell you, we veterans, individually or as a group, have nothing to be ashamed of. We can hold our heads high because what we did accomplish could never been accomplished or bought with any amount of money. 

We who, even denied the most fundamental rights of citizenship, acted as honourable citizens to serve our country in its hour of need. And no one can take that honour away from us. We are now in the September of our years. Our time and resources are limited and common to all veterans in every land. Some of us have paid terrible emotional, physical and mental price for what we did. But the price we paid was and remains a symbol of our loyalty and dedication to our country and we can be proud of our accomplishment. 

I say this to you. We did something for the Chinese community no other group could ever have done. We should be proud and take satisfaction in the knowledge that without our contribution to Canada as members of the armed forces during the Second World War, none of the rights that exist in the Chinese community today would be possible. And to your loved ones and to members of your family, I say this, take pride in our accomplishments. Give to us the privilege to indulge a little bit in our comradeship and also give to us now, your support and understanding because what we did, we did for you. 

Be proud of us, as we are with you. Be happy with us and take some time to spread the word and record of us among your friends so that someone will once more be inspired to take up the challenge to be a voice for our community in elected assembly. Do not, I beg of you, let our efforts go to waste simply because no one cares. Our efforts, instead of being recorded as a mere footnote in pages of Canadian history should, at least, be a blazing and inspiring chapter of the Chinese people in the history of Canada. 

And finally, to my comrades-in-arms I sent you my warmest and most affectionate greetings wherever you may be. I am proud to be one of you and to all I say, “Well done.” Thank you for the honour and privilege of speaking to you. I wish you all continuing good health and success. I look forward to our next reunion. Until then. God bless.

Student Council Becomes Vic High Leadership Course

Student Council Becomes Vic High Leadership Course

2023/24 Leadership students with teachers Niki Lukat, L, and Sara Reside, R

By King Lee, VHS 1958

What used to be the Student Council has essentially morphed into an accredited course at Vic High. There is no criteria for those who want to take the course, and it happens outside the students’ regular timetable. “It typically attracts students who are ‘go-getters’,” says Vic High’s Acting Vice-Principal, Sara Reside, “and it’s quite time-consuming but very rewarding.” She and two other teachers have taken on teaching roles for this course, which has attracted 110 students this school  year. It is designed and authorized by the school district, and started in the early 2000s.

During COVID, leadership student activities were reduced, but with school life back to normal and excitement building about the move back to Vic High February 1, 2024, interest in more leadership projects has increased.

The course is built around the subjects of goal-setting, time management, public speaking, school and community service, public relations, team building and leadership style. With so many students and a three-teacher approach, the current Topaz Campus library is the only venue big enough for the class. When the students get home to Vic High on Fernwood, they will likely need to meet in the Wallace Auditorium.

Students with their We Are Vic High Leadership t-shirts serving at the annual Pancake Breakfast

Leadership students have four major assignments in the school year and also perform volunteer work at Greater Victoria marathons, The Cridge Centre for the Family, and the Victoria Foundation as part of their work assignments. In addition, they take on roles at Vic High assemblies, talent shows, the Remembrance Day program, and even student pancake breakfasts.

“The course is very time-consuming,” said Sara,  “because of the classroom and volunteer aspects, and it really stresses accountability and time flexibility.”

Sara began her teaching career in 2004 in the Sooke school district (SD 62). She taught grades 9 to 12 for two years before receiving Teachers On Call temporary contracts in the Greater Victoria school district (SD 61) at Mount Douglas, Reynolds, Esquimalt and Oak Bay. She came to Vic High in 2015, the same year as  Principal Aaron Parker, and taught English and Social Studies.

In June of this year, Principal Parker put out a call for a teacher to temporarily fill the vice principal’s position until the new appointee, currently on a school district leave of absence, arrives at Vic High. Sara applied and was selected to fill the position, joining the principal and Vice Principal Danielle Mercer on the management team.

Sara’s love of kids and teaching, and of Vic High itself, plus her enthusiasm and creativity, are a big part of why this course is so successful. Kids learn valuable life skills, and bring joy and celebration to the school population. The Alumni looks forward to working with Sara to develop some collaborative projects involving Alumni volunteers and leadership students.

Susan Butt, VHS 1955 Tennis, Psychology and The Psychology of Sport

Susan Butt, VHS 1955   Tennis, Psychology, and The Psychology of Sport

By King Lee, VHS 1958

One would think that being ranked No. 1 tennis player in Canada three years in the ‘60s, playing Wimbledon twice, (once on centre court), and being named captain of Canada’s Federation Cup team would shine a singular spotlight on Susan Butt of the Victoria High School graduating class of 1955. But this was the spectacular Vic High Class of ’55 and Susan shares that spotlight with numerous other accomplished classmates.** (Read below about just a few 1955 alumni.)

Susan’s interest in the sport goes back to when she was nine years old. She saw Maureen Connelly, a top United States player, practicing at the Victoria Lawn Tennis and Badminton Club’s grass courts. Located at the time near Fort Street and Foul Bay Road, Susan’s father was an avid tennis player and a member at the Club.

Maureen, nicknamed “Little Mo,” went on to become the first woman to win four Grand Slam titles in the same year (1953) at the Australian, French and U.S. opens as well as Wimbledon. She was the American Female Athlete of the Year for three consecutive years starting in 1953.

Susan began to take the sport seriously as she was becoming a teenager. “My father was my coach,” said Susan, during a recent visit at her North Saanich home. With Little Mo as inspiration and her father’s coaching and encouragement, Susan learned quickly and went on to win the Victoria singles and doubles titles at just 17.

Susan was initially enrolled at St. Margaret’s School, a girls’ private school founded in Victoria in 1908. But she left after one year because the school wouldn’t allow her to miss their mandatory after-school games program for her one-hour daily tennis practice. St. Margaret’s loss was Vic High’s gain, as Susan quickly immersed herself in many aspects of school life there. Field hockey, badminton, table tennis, and of course, tennis, under the watchful eye of teacher Gordon Hartley, himself an accomplished tennis player.

“I think it was an excellent education,” Susan said of Vic High. She particularly remembered English literature teacher (and principal after Harry Smith’s retirement) Harry Dee, biology teacher (and another future Victoria High School principal) Duncan Lorimer, and her homeroom and social studies teacher Miss Sargent.

Asked who her best friend was at Vic High, she simply replied, “My best friend was tennis.”

Along the way to Wimbledon, Susan racked up seven Stanley Park singles and doubles titles in Vancouver. About age 19, she even found time to work during the summers as a junior columnist for the Victoria Daily Times under women’s editor Bessie Forbes. Susan wrote about her tennis adventures while at the paper.

Susan played against tennis greats Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Althea Gibson and Marie Bueno of Brazil. But her pinnacle came in 1961 when she played at Wimbledon’s centre court in the third round of Wimbledon, but was defeated by No. 1 seed Sandra Reynolds of South Africa. Sandra had lost the final the year before to Brazilian Bueno.

In 1967, Susan regained her No. 1 status in Canadian women’s tennis and played at Wimbledon again. “It was a privilege to get to play Wimbledon again,” Susan said.

Susan is in the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame, B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, Hall of Fame of the Pacific Northwest,  and is soon-to-be-inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame. She was ranked No. 1 in Canada in 1960, 1961 and 1967.

UBC Faculty of Psychology

But tennis was just the beginning for Susan. She obtained her PhD in Psychology in Chicago (also winning two city tennis titles in the process), and went on to teach psychology at UBC for 36 years, specializing – of course – in sports psychology. Her theory, that aggressive training procedures don’t necessarily produce the superior results obtained through a co-operative training atmosphere, are outlined in her 1976 book, The Psychology of Sport. Cuba has the highest per capita winning percentage for gold medals partially , Susan maintains, because their training methods jive with the philosophy outlined in her book.

Tennis is off the table now. She’s almost recovered from one knee operation and is awaiting another. She’s vital, witty, and very accomplished  with definite opinions about women’s role in society, she’s a grateful Vic High grad, and she can look back on her outstanding tennis and teaching careers with great pride.

 

** Just a few of the very accomplished VHS 1955 alumni:

David Anderson  won gold and silver in the men’s four rowing at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne and silver in the men’s eights in 1960 in Rome. He eventually held four separate federal cabinet positions as a Member of Parliament. Black & Gold Roll of Honour Inductee video.

Stew Smith, renowned physicist and Dean of Physics at Princeton University from 1990 to 1998, won the Mann Cup, emblematic of the senior men’s Canadian lacrosse championship in 1961 playing with the Vancouver Carlings team. In his graduating year at Vic High, Stew received the Governor General’s medal for being the province’s top student. Black & Gold Roll of Honour Inductee video.

Jim Taylor, a Canadian sports humorist and columnist for 30 years with both Vancouver daily newspapers, where he wrote about 7,500 columns, and was nationally syndicated for six years with a Calgary-based sports publication. He was inducted into the Canadian Football and Greater Victoria sports halls of fame as a writer before he died in 2019. Black & Gold Roll of Honour Inductee video.

And last, but not least, Fenwick Lansdowne, a self-taught, accomplished bird painter despite contracting polio at a young age and whose work has been displayed across Canada and beyond.

Greg Bos, VHS 1975 Cowboy At Heart

Greg Bos, VHS 1975    Cowboy At Heart

by Gerald Pash, VHS 1962

He has roamed the world as a Reuters news photographer capturing some of the world’s most historic events. As Reuters senior photo editor he has been central to the selection and distribution of journalistic images for the world.  Yet, it is Greg’s full-colour coffee table book Trails of the West, Images of the North American Cowboy, that reveals his lifelong passion with the simple, rugged life of the cowboy.

Greg was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1957 to Dutch parents, the eldest of four children. His dad became fed up with the cold winters in Winnipeg, so the family moved to the west coast in 1964. He attended Central Junior High School from 1970-73, then went on to Victoria High School. Greg says high school was a challenge. He struggled with homework, partially due to working late nights as bus boy at the Keg & Cleaver on Fort Street, and partially due to problems at home. His parents divorced a few years later.

“The net result was lower grades than I would have liked,” says Greg. “However, I did enjoy homeroom and hanging out in the cafeteria. I became a minor celebrity as a cast member of two major stage drama productions, including the award-winning Ernie’s Incredible Illucinations in 1974, and the Greek comedy Lysistrata the following year. I was a keen supporter of Vic High sports teams, especially the Tyees and the Totems, and followed the senior girls basketball team all the way to their BC title winning game in 1975.”

Given his Reuters career, “it is bizarre,” says Greg, “to think that I was never a member of the photography club at Vic High.” He finished off his senior year as a member of the graduation committee. “I do remember going with Vice-Principal Reg Reid and his daughter Linda,” says Greg,  “to select a rhododendron for the small planting area at the base of the main entrance front steps. We had a planting ceremony and unveiled a brass plaque.” On grad night, Greg was one of three people to stand up and introduce a student performance for gathered students, staff and family. Time In A Bottle by Jim Croce was the selection he announced.  “That was actually more nerve-wracking than performing on stage.” says Greg.

From Greg’s book Trails of the West

After graduation he became an apprentice glazier at Pacific Glass on Pandora Avenue. In early 1977, however, Greg said goodbye to Victoria and ventured off to Europe. In London, he landed a job as a cinema usher in Leicester Square and eventually mapped out a journey across Europe with long stops in the Netherlands, his parents’ homeland. The photography seed was planted while in Europe when an acquaintance in Amsterdam encouraged him to use black and white film rather than the Kodachrome that his father had advised for his photo-taking.

Greg returned to Canada in 1978 and decided Edmonton was the place to be. To augment his high school diploma, he applied for a two-year diploma-granting course at Grant MacEwan Community College (GMCC), now MacEwan University. Because the Audio-Visual course was oversubscribed, he opted for the Advertising & Public Relations program.  He joined the student council, and was the editor of the 1980 Scimitar yearbook, his first book, he claims, and  graduated with the third highest marks of the 21 students. Through the course, his interest in photography was reignited and he decided to become a news photographer. With a part-time job in a camera store, he ended up spending nearly every cent he earned on film for his Pentax camera. At one point he started talking his way into NASL Edmonton Drillers’ soccer games pretending to be a freelance sports photographer. There he met Canadian Press staff photographer Dave Buston, who shared a variety of tips and processes of the press photography trade.

To make ends meet, he managed to land a full-time job selling yearbooks for Inter-Collegiate Press, and in 1982 was transferred to Vancouver where he linked up with Nick Didlick of United Press Canada. “Nick really helped me finesse my darkroom skills,” says Greg. He worked as a freelancer with Didlick and built up a portfolio of press images covering transit strikes and floods and NHL hockey in Vancouver.  Subsequently, he was offered a job as a staff photographer for the Kamloops News in 1984.

From Greg’s book Trails of the West

Four years later, at 30 years of age and with a Dutch passport, he joined Nick Didlick at the Reuters News Pictures Service in Brussels. His first major story was the Zeebrugge ferry disaster in Belgium. After a year in Brussels, he was transferred to London. “Seeing my pictures published with a byline in big British daily newspapers was a real ego boost. I absolutely loved it,” says Greg.  In 1988 he was sent up to Scotland to cover the Lockerbie Disaster where a Pan American 747 jet crashed following an explosion. It was one of the biggest news stories of the latter half of the 20th century.  Three months later he was promoted to run the news pictures operation in Reuters’ Amsterdam bureau.

Greg now lives in Plymouth in the southwest of England with his wife Fiona and daughter Zoe. During 24 years at Reuters, he covered some of the major news stories of the late 20th century, including the Pan-Am Lockerbie Disaster, Fall of the Berlin Wall, the first Gulf War, and Princess Diana’s Funeral. In the latter part of his Reuters career, as the Global Sports Photo Editor, he planned and implemented photographic coverage of major sporting events such as the Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, the UEFA European Football Championships in Austria/Switzerland 2008, and the FIFA Men’s World Cups in Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010.

After 40 years, Greg declares that photography is more of a hobby these days. His last assignment was a photo exhibition in 2018 at the Barbican Library in London, which neatly coincided with the release of his ‘second’ book, Trails of the West: Images of the North American Cowboy.  It was while working in Kamloops that the idea of a book of cowboy photographs became hard-wired into Greg’s psyche. “I was always the first photographer to put my hand up if there was a rodeo photo assignment in the area,” says Greg. “And in 1984 I discovered the Douglas Lake Ranch while on assignment for the paper.” Since that time, Greg has visited many ranches in the US and Canada, shooting the photos he wanted, and meeting interesting characters. “It was a lot of fun,” says Greg, “I could take my time, on my own time, and shoot pictures that weren’t always newsworthy but that I really liked.”

Greg’s book definitely has a Vic High hallmark. When it came time to put it all together, Greg’s good friend, fellow VHS 1975 alumnus Doug Callbeck, pointed Greg towards book designer Linda Gustafson in Toronto. Linda is also a fellow VHS 197575 grad, and is Principal of Counterpunch Inc. in Toronto, a book design and packaging company.

Signed copies of Greg’s book are available to purchase from the VHS Alumni Association. Email Communications.

www.gregbosphotography.com.

 

                      

John Ashbridge, VHS 1964 The Voice of the Canucks

JOHN ASHBRIDGE, VHS 1964

You might not know his name, but you know his voice

By King Lee, VHS 1958

Many Vic High voices have been heard in the hallways of the school and on Victoria radio airwaves. Some are familiar: Hugh Curtis at CJVI and C-FAX, Alan Perry at C-FAX, Ray Orchard, former Vic High principal Keith McCallion at C-FAX, Gordie Tupper at CKDA and CHEK-TV, Brian Dance at CBC Radio, John McKeachie at CKDA, Gerald Pash at CKDA, and myself King Lee at CKDA. But none will have a less recognizable name and more recognizable voice than John Ashbridge from the Vic High Class of 1964.

If you’ve attended a Vancouver Canucks NHL game or listened to a Canucks television or radio broadcast, John’s distinctive and booming voice was heard over the arena public-address system for more than three decades before his death due to cancer on June 5, 2018 in New Westminster, BC, three days short of his 72nd birthday.

John was born June 8, 1946 in Hastings, Sussex, England, but immigrated to Victoria at age five with his family. Believe it or not, his career in broadcasting began as he started attending Central Junior High School. He’d become interested in radio, and began hanging around AM radio station CJVI on Fort Street as a bit of a ‘gofer’, doing whatever he could to help and to learn, and actually worked there 1960-1961.  The station, which operated from April 1, 1923 until 5:05 p.m., Sept. 2, 2000, was eventually sold to Canadian broadcasting giant Rogers Communications Inc.  It became CHTT, or better known as JACK-FM (103.1).

Eventually his persistence and willingness to help and learn landed him an  ‘on air’ gig at C-FAX while still attending Vic High. He was allowed to announce the time and weather during breaks in the elevator-music format of the day. Meanwhile, back at Vic High, his grad write-up said:  John is a member of the grad choir, as well as one of Mr. P’s “labourers” in the equipment room. He also served as manager of the Totems this year. Outside of school, John works for C-Fax radio, and his future lies in the field of radio and TV production.”

Helen Edwards, chair of the Victoria High School Alumni Association and a Grade 12 classmate of John, admits she did not know him at Vic High, but got to know him when she was writing a book about Victoria’s hockey history. “He helped me quite a bit,” Helen said.

Sandra Barge Lauder, who lives in Alberta, remembered John as a great biology lab partner in Grade 12 because he loved cutting up specimens. “He had a great sense of humour and he always had me laughing,” Sandra said. She also recalled his amazing ‘radio voice.’ Sandra lost touch with John until around 1989. She was on a ladder painting the interior of their new house and listening to the Canucks playing her beloved Montreal Canadiens, when she heard a familiar voice, got down off the ladder, and walked towards the TV. It was John Ashbridge,  introduced as the Voice of the Canucks. “I couldn’t believe it!”, said Sandra. They reconnected until his passing in 2018.

Dan Soberg, VHS 1964,  also remembered John from Vic High. They both lived on Moss Street in Fairfield, and Dan often gave John a ride to Vic High in his $75, 1951 Austin, which occasionally needed a push. And Gerald Pash, VHS 1962, remembers John as a fellow student interested in radio. “I worked at CKDA 1962-64,” he says, “and would visit John occasionally on the week-ends when he was operating the control board at C-FAX.”

John worked at C-FAX until he graduated from Vic High, and from there his career took off. At 17, he started reading the news at Vancouver radio station CJOR (600 AM), and spent a year there before moving on to CKNW (980 AM). His long career there was interrupted several times: three years in Prince George, a year in Australia,  and three months as news director at the ill-fated C-FUN Radio, which had adopted an all-news format after its rock-music glory days. In 1997 and 1998, John flew to Japan with the Canucks to perform announcing duties in Tokyo.

John had become the Canucks’ in-house announcer in 1987 at the Pacific Coliseum, and also did announcing stints with the Vancouver Giants junior Western Hockey League franchise as well as the occasional Vancouver Canadians’ baseball game. His two favourite broadcasting memories were announcing the late Queen Elizabeth’s ceremonial puck-drop at a game against the San Jose Sharks in 2002, and announcing the gold-medal hockey game between Canada and the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Photo courtesy of NHL website. www.nhl.com

In his later years, John returned to Victoria as a guest at some of the annual Association of Former MLAs of British Columbia dinners held at Government House. He must have had some great stories to share there. And he was kind enough some years back to speak at the memorial service of a woman who had worked in radio for many years. We’re told the woman’s grandson was blown away when the ‘Voice of the Canucks’ gave a wonderful testimonial to his grandmother at the service. He’ll have that memory all his life.

In Tom Hawthorn’s Globe and Mail obituary on John, Tom recalled an interview with the Nanaimo Daily News in which John was asked what he liked about the being the Canucks’ announcer. “I have a front-row seat, I have an unobstructed view, I’ve had a pre-game meal, they’ve provided me with parking. Does it get any better than this?”

Courtesy Gord Lansdell’s Vancouver Broadcasters website, here is John’s radio itinerary:

John Ashbridge – Operator at age 13 CJVI Victoria 1960-61; on air C-FAX Victoria 1962-64; CJOR Vancouver 1964; general announcer CKNW New Westminster 1965-67; C-FUN Vancouver 1967; CKNW 1967-70; News Director CJCI Prince George 1970-73; CKNW 1973-80; television news Australia 1980-81; news then senior newsman and Manager Network Operations CKNW 1981-2005; retired from radio; public address announcer Vancouver Canucks 1987-current; PA announcer Vancouver Giants 2004-current.  RTNDA Lifetime Achievement Award 2005.

Here’s a link to live radio interview with John. bcradiohistory.com/amikecleaver/ashmore1.mp3

And a few links to articles about John.

CBC: (this one includes a video of that famous voice) Longtime Vancouver Canucks PA announcer John Ashbridge dead at 71 | CBC News

Global News:  (some great tributes from colleagues in this one) Legendary broadcaster and voice of the Canucks John Ashbridge dies at 71 – BC | Globalnews.ca

NHL: (this one written by former TV sports announcer Bernie Pascall) Remembering John Ashbridge | NHL.com

Vancouver Is Awesome: (lots of great tweets about John here) Here are 13 heartfelt tweets remembering broadcaster John Ashbridge – Vancouver Is Awesome

Puget Sound Radio:   Iconic Broadcaster/Canucks PA Voice John Ashbridge Dies at 71 – Puget Sound Radio

 

2022-2023 It’s Been Quite the Year

2022-2023  It’s Been Quite the Year

Helen Edwards, VHS 1964

Vic High Alumni Annual Report,  by Helen Daniels, Board Chair

First, thank you to the donors who ensure the Vic High Alumni can support the school and its activities. I would also like to thank our extraordinary team of volunteers. You all definitely embody the Vic High spirit.

Administration

We adopted a new Vic High Alumni bylaws and constitution in April. This ensures that we operate within the Societies Act and in the digital world. Thanks to Rick Crosby, 1976, Brian Day, 1968, and Roger Skillings, 1968 for their leadership on this important issue. We can’t thank them enough. As we move our operations to a more digital format,  members beyond Victoria are able to attend meetings and we can draw volunteers to perform tasks that can be done online. Board meetings are open to all members, and all voices are welcome to be heard. However only elected directors can vote. We have been experimenting with hybrid meetings – in-person and via Zoom,  and once the new board establishes a meeting schedule, we will post it on the website. You can also email General Inquiries and ask to be included on the email list for pre-meeting agenda and information.

Archives & Museum

We finished adding 7,416 individual records to a database to make it easier to search for things in the Archives, and look forward to creating a more orderly way to store digital archival records. We went on several tours of the seismic jobsite to take photos and document progress for the Archives, and share information and photos via the website and newsletter. An alumni-owned business – Vintage Woodworks – will build new custom shelving for the Archives. Owner Ken Coley-Donahue, VHS 1987, won the contract to provide all the replica windows for Vic High and was keen to help with Archives shelving. We’re very pleased that the Department of Veterans Affairs has created individual online pages of each war memorial element at Vic High: our Great War Banner, the two war memorials, cornerstones and plaques, memorial trees, the stained-glass windows, and more. The pages are being translated and we’ll announce in the newsletter when they’re live.

We continue to receive donations for the Archives’ collections. Two major ones:

  • 1915 Diary of Ernest Fairey (brother of Frank T. Fairey after whom Fairey Tech is named), was found by a DurWest labourer in the ceiling of the auditorium
  • 1959 Totems Championship jacket in pristine condition, the last one in existence, was donated by a member of the team – David Nelson

Stories and contacts are being collected on the website to help with research for the next Vic High history book, to be published for Vic High’s 150th anniversary in 2026. Please share your memories of your Vic High days with us.

 

Communications

Eleven newsletters were emailed last year, and our engagement with our 4,000 recipients is high. Our MailChimp email program allows us to target sub-groups, so we’ve sent emails to various grad classes at the request of reunion organizers or fundraising leads. Website traffic is up 60% over this time last year. Our new merchandise program was launched online, and Vic High yearbooks – easily the most-visited area of the website – are now easier to download. Our donor lists are posted annually (names, grad years, and In Memory Of – no amounts are posted), and we are tracking traffic to the website and suggested improvements. By monitoring key performance metrics, we can improve our service to you.

In addition to publishing the monthly e-newsletter and annual print newsletters sent to donors without email addresses, the Communications team updates the website with stories and posts. We prepared promotional materials to raise the profile of the Association and expand awareness of what we do. For the Vic High Awards Night, we provided descriptions and photos for each Alumni award for a slide show for attendees, and info cards to give to each Alumni award winner. We also designed items for the Black & Gold Dinner, the Merchandise Program, items to send with donor thank-you notes, and more.

2023 Black and Gold Honour Roll Inductees Sylvia Hosie, VHS 1961, Mohammed Elewonibi, VHS 1983, Pamela Madoff, VHS 1972

Events

The 2020 Black & Gold Dinner was finally held May 2023, with eight alumni celebrated and inducted into the Black & Gold Honour Roll. Numerous students attended the dinner, each a leader in the school in some way, and one of them was surprised to see so much enthusiasm by alumni for Vic High, remarking, “We really are all one Vic High family.” Videos about all 24 Honour Roll inductees are linked from the Honour Roll. 2025 is the Alumni’s 50th anniversary, and the school year 2025-26 is Vic High’s 150th anniversary. We will be developing celebratory events and activities to recognize these milestones.

Fundraising

The role of the Task Force is to develop new fundraising initiatives to support numerous projects: refurbish war memorials, create the first-ever donor recognition wall, ensure various heritage elements can be incorporated into Vic High, and refurbish grad class photos. We are also looking to help equip the new broadcast media lab, robotics engineering lab, a Vic High marching band, new art gallery area, the theatre with a new stage curtain, the new astronomy viewing deck with light-filtering screens, and more. Some of these are budgeted for by the school over time, but the sooner we can raise funds to help, the sooner our students can benefit from these items.

We met with some very successful fundraisers who graciously shared best practices information, and we are developing some options best suited to the target projects and those most likely to donate. A benefactor has offered to fund professional fundraising assistance in order to help us achieve these ambitious goals.

We sold 24 auditorium seat plaques in 2022 fiscal year. An anonymous donor has secured individual seat plaques for all members of the 1959 Vic High BC Championship Totems. Approximately 250 seats out of 960 total are still available on the main floor. There will likely be seats available in the balcony at some point. Seat Plaques can be ordered here. A new Vic High merchandise program was launched this year and everything is available here. The merchandise team attends all reunions with a pop-up store and generated significant sales at the recent Black & Gold Dinner.

 

Reunions

Reunions are resuming, some  are 1-2 days of events and others a single event. We continue to support reunion organizers and update the extensive information on the website to provide ideas and guidance.

Scholarships & Bursaries

In June 2022, the total value of all scholarships and bursaries awarded to Vic High students by the Alumni was approximately $22,000. This spring, the Board was able to increase the value of the awards to over $30,000. This represents an increase of approximately 300% in the total value of awards since the Alumni began providing them in 2006. We are discussing with staff where additional scholarships or bursaries might be helpful to support the students.

Volunteers

The seismic upgrade of Vic High and the expansion of Alumni activities over the past few years have created numerous opportunities to get involved, help alumni stay connected, and give back to Vic High. Most of these tasks are or can be done online from anywhere.

  1. Bookkeeping/financial management
  2. Event organizing & fundraising
  3. Donor relations
  4. Supporting reunion organizers
  5. Website updating (we use a very common and user-friendly platform: WordPress)
  6. Maintaining our email list and website-based directory of 14,000 alumni
  7. Interviewing alumni and writing up their stories for the website, newsletter & archives.
  8. Working in the Vic High Archives, creating in-school displays, maintaining digital collections.

It’s been a busy year and we know, with Vic High re-opening in January, there are lots of opportunities for us all to continue supporting this great school. Needless to say, we – along with all the staff and students – cannot WAIT to see our school again.

Jerry Bone, VHS 1952 Asking the Zen Questions

Portrait of me painting figures that are painting me. A Zen question for Islay Ferguson: Who started painting first?

Jerry Bone, VHS 1952    Asking the Zen Questions

by Jerry Bone, VHS 1952

I’m just turning 89, and remember back to the friends, the bungling incompetence with the opposite sex, and other growing up groans and giggles at Vic High. It was more than just a school; it was my home.

 My story begins in Sydney, Nova Scotia, when my mother and father split in 1946. Wanting to get as far away from him as she could and still live in Canada, she took my older brother and I on a train trip that after 7 days delivered us to Victoria. There I was registered in Central Junior High. While the music teacher was testing students to find those suitable to form a choir, the band master dropped into the room, focused on me, and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: to blow a shiny instrument. So I wound up playing a tuba and a sousaphone (I did realize the latter would leave me with my left shoulder an inch and a half lower than the right). The following year a new band master, Mr. Grant, took over the baton, and I became the ‘base’ which supported the band. While in junior high, I also had occasions to take part in plays. All of this made me comfortable on stage, a condition which became useful later in life. Having no income other than that which covered absolute necessities, I would mow lawns in summer to get pocket money.

When the time came, I was slated to go to a high school close to home. But my friends were going to Vic High and I wanted to go with them. Luckily Mr. Grant didn’t want to lose me in the band so persuaded Vic High Principal Smith to make it possible for me to attend there. Although it took me two busses to get to school, I settled into my new routine. I had trouble studying during study hall periods, so having had a taste of theatre, I used the spare periods to take drama with Mr. Wayne. He not only taught me drama, but found occasional (non-paying) roles for me in legitimate theater.

Mr. Wayne seemed to understand my financial situation, for one day he offered me a part-time job playing records for a couple who were ice dancers. Things went well for four or five weeks until I witnessed the man’s feet fly up and his head hit the ice. After he was taken away on a stretcher, I was informed my services were no longer required. Mr. Wayne also taught me how to run the movie projector and I became the school’s projectionist. I also took care of setting up and dismantling the PA system, which led me to becoming a timekeeper at basketball games. I remember timekeeping when the Harlem Globe Trotters ran circles around home team.

Before spring break, Mr. Wayne asked me if I would like a job in the cafeteria during the teachers’ Summer School. So while my mates were playing tennis, I washed dishes in a little room next to the serving station in the cafeteria and would amuse myself by singing. One day a head popped in the door and asked me if I would like to take singing lessons. The choir teacher, Miss Hopgood, had heard me through the wall. She swept aside my statement that l couldn’t afford them and offered her services for free. Thinking, “why not?”, I began studying under her during the new school year and soon found myself singing solo on stage at assemblies.

The next year, my summer job was changed to stockroom attendant where I doled out art supplies, took care of supplying, tracking and retrieving maps and other paraphernalia for history class, science lab, sports equipment, etc. I was also projectionist for lectures, set up and controlled the PA setups, moved and set up tables and chairs when needed, and acted as a general gofer. That fall Miss Hopgood had me singing on local radio. With the band, drama and singing, my belief that “All the world’s a stage” culminated at Vic High’s 75th anniversary where I began on stage with the band, then left it to show a short film. I changed into gym gear and joined a gymnastic presentation, changed back into uniform to play with the band again, changed again to play in a short skit, changed into kilt, tam and sporran to sing a solo Scottish song while dancing a variation of the sword dance, then went back to the band for the finale.

In the summer before my final year my summer workload increased and I was given two assistants. In my final year, I was a member of the band that took first in the band competition, was part of a brass quintet that also took first (I was complemented on my tuba solo) and I came first in folk song category. Then came graduation. In the fall, despite the fact I was no longer at Vic High, Miss Hopgood asked me to return to sing once more at the first school assembly. So in a final farewell, I sang to those teachers who gave me confidence to stand on a stage, a love for history, science and reading, but particularly those who directed me towards the joys of music, from Bach to Brubeck.

If anyone has the slightest interest, here is an outline of the rest of my life…the truncated version.

Using money saved from summer jobs, I went to Vic. College.  2 years of Arts & Science, went broke. Navigator R.C.A.F., Korean war over.  Civi-street in Winnipeg,  accounting clerk, night courses CPA, tedious, bored to tears, quit. Worked batching, trucking concrete in bush camp in what became Thompson, Man.  Used money to take Architecture at U. of Manitoba. First year there, met Marj who was taking double honours math. In second year, she dropped into single honours so she could take a course in Abnormal Psychology. She later married me, so she must have found I wasn’t dangerous. To continue, went broke, went to Teachers College, Teaching Certificate, teaching Art, married Marj. As I was teaching Art, thought IMasters. With Canada Council Grant, guaranteed a student bursary, we turned our assets into cash and headed to U. California, San Jose.  One and a half years later, with M.A (Art) in hand and baby in tow we returned to Manitoba to find the teaching job market for Art teachers had closed up. Because of a couple of courses I took in Architecture, I got a job teaching shops in Shilo, Man. But because it was a military base under the Federal Government, I was paid top scale. I made it!!

Later, two daughters entering school and a wife with an honour’s degree in math climbing the walls, considered situation, decided she should get a job, took a 25% cut in salary so she could work in Winnipeg for Great West Life. I took care of the kids and used the rest of the day to make art. As I was breaking the norm for men staying at home while wives worked, she was working her way up the scale to become head of the Computer Systems Section. When she insisted on being recognized as a manager, she broke the barrier against women progressing beyond secretary. In doing so, she paved the way for other women to become managers and company directors.

 

While this was happening, my art work was spreading from Victoria to Halifax and from the Cortez-Alleman collection in Mexico to a log cabin north of The Pas, Man. I retired in 2004 and took up painting as one of my hobbies. Presently I am completing the last painting, called“Santa”, in a series called: My Life in a Calendar on My Mother’s Kitchen Wall.

Above, I am posed in front of May. If you are interested in what else I have done, Google jerryboneartist, select Facebook reference.

 

Gloria (Mobey) Parker, VHS 1959 Always Making A Difference

Gloria (Mobey) Parker, VHS 1959  Always Making A Difference

By Linda Baker, VHS 1969

You never know what will inspire a lifelong passion or career. For little Gloria Mobey, the seeds of her future were sown when she and younger sister Sylvia (Hosie, VHS 1961) attended their cousins’ graduations from nursing school. They began playing ‘nurse’, with Gloria always the nurse and Sylvia always the patient, and to this day treasure the photo taken of them in tiny copycat nursing uniforms.

As early as Grade 10, Gloria applied to the Royal Jubilee School of Nursing wait list and was accepted, pending her achieving the necessary prerequisite courses and marks at school. “In those days,” says Gloria, “girls could be secretaries, nurses, or teachers. I chose nursing, but also ended up teaching a lot of nurses throughout my career.”

Gloria was slated to attend Mt. View High School. However her mother taught at George Jay Elementary and she could get a ride to Vic High every day instead of getting herself to Mt. View. So she applied to Vic High citing her desire to learn German, (Mt. View didn’t offer it), and was accepted.  She was active in the Future Nurses’ and Future Teachers’ clubs. “They had the best field trips,” says Gloria. And along with sister Sylvia, she was in the Modern Dance Club.  “Going to Vic High turned out to be a smart move,” says Gloria. “and I did learn German.”  Some of her SJ friends had gone to Mt. View, and one of them told her she’d gotten a much better overall education at Vic High. “It was definitely the best high school in Victoria,” says Gloria. “I think the standards were higher, and you were just expected to do your best.”

By 1965, Gloria’s sister Sylvia was a teacher in Victoria, and says school principals competed to get the best teachers on their staff. “Vic High was expected to get the best teachers,” says Sylvia. “People wanted to teach there, it would be a feather in your cap to get a position there.”

Gloria was a bit of a rebel at Vic High, but did well and earned enough credits that she ended up being able to forego one subject. She and three other girls were in a high-achiever math class of mostly boys. The teacher started the first class of the year by saying to the girls, ‘You go sit at the back of the class. My job is to prep these boys for engineering. I don’t care about you as you are the weak sisters.’ Gloria was incensed and asked the administration, but the school wouldn’t move her to another class. So she spent math class at the back, doing homework for other subjects.

Gloria and Old Vic

In 1973 Sylvia was recruited by Vic High Vice-Principal Reg Reid to create the big Memorial (now Save-On) Arena Come Give A Cheer show for Vic High’s centennial celebrations in 1976. Naturally Sylvia recruited Gloria, who ended up helping with costumes for the show. At the eleventh hour, the current Home Ec/Sewing teacher was unable to help, so Gloria quickly designed the costume for the show’s main character, Old Vic, played by popular Vic High teacher Tommy Mayne. “It was basically a long black and gold nightshirt,” says Gloria, “with Old Vic on the front, and Mr. Mayne loved it. He told me years later that it went with him every time he moved and I know he wore it in some Victoria parades.” Tommy eventually donated his beloved costume to the Vic High Archives and Museum, where it lives quietly between sheets of acid-free tissue and is brought out for occasional display. (What stories that costume could tell!)

A Career in Nursing

Needless to say, Gloria did well at nursing school, eventually earning a Masters of Science in Administration. In the meantime, though, working at Glengarry Private Hospital and Tillicum Lodge she became very interested in geriatrics. As a result she became the co-ordinator who opened the Geriatric Assessment and Treatment Center at Royal Jubilee Hospital. Then it was back to the ailing Tillicum Lodge where she helped design a groundbreaking approach to supporting Alzheimers’ patients at the replacement facility, The Lodge at Broadmead, and became the Director of Nursing there.

It was while working full-time at Broadmead that she did online and in-person work to earn her Masters of Science from the University of Colorado. “U.S. physicians attending those courses loved having us Canadians in the program,” says Gloria. “We brought a lot of knowledge and experience about the Canadian system of health care, and they were keen to learn about it.”

During her career, Gloria was involved in numerous organizations and boards in the nursing and health care fields, like the RNABC (including 2 terms as president), on the board of the Canadian Nurses Association, and the Canadian Medical Association (Care to the Elderly Committee). She also chaired the blue ribbon Ethics Committee created by then provincial Minister of Health Peter Dueck, where euthanasia (assisted dying) was a contentious issue.

With her Masters in Science, and as an accreditor, she also taught nursing in China for several months, and did contract work for Nigel House, a long term care facility in Victoria for adults 19 – 55 with complex physical and mental health care needs.

 

The Blizzard of 1996

Most people in Victoria remember the catastrophic snowfall of Christmas 1996, but for folks like Gloria as the Director of Nursing at Broadmead Care, it was literally a life and death situation because many patients couldn’t feed or dress themselves. “I was on vacation when the nursing supervisor called,” says Gloria, to tell me we had no staff. “My husband and I shovelled through snow piled to the top of our back door and out to the road, where a passing BC Hydro truck drove us to the Royal Oak Mall, and from there we were able to walk to Broadmead.” They were there for three days before regular staffing resumed, with Gloria’s husband helping out in the kitchen. “I put the more capable patients (mostly veterans) to help out wherever possible, and put out a call through (radio station) CFAX for care workers and volunteers to go to the nearest facility to help. I was so touched by the people that showed up at Broadmead, leaving their homes and families and trudging through snow to volunteer. We did have one veteran die, and the Army Reserves had to come to move the body to a local funeral home. “His family said he’d have loved that his final journey was in the capable hands of the Army Reserves.”

“I loved every minute of my nursing career,” says Gloria. Her compassion and enthusiasm still shine through, for nursing to patients in need, for innovating better ways to help the elderly, and for inspiring others through her administrative work. In the end, that’s what matters the most, the human connection, the compassionate, and the difference we can make. Thank you, Gloria.

Note: Here’s Sylvia Hosie’s story, as told at her 2023 induction into the Vic High Black & Gold Honour Roll.

Class of 1970 50th+ + + Reunion

Class of 1970    50th+ + + Reunion

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

It definitely looks like it was worth the wait as the Class of 1970 finally held its 50th reunion. So many smiles and hugs and laughter and stories, it was a treat to be at the May 31 Meet & Greet at the Strathcona Hotel. Our enthusiastic Vic High Alumni merch team was there too – Mary Anne Skill and Shannon Edgar, VHS 1975 – representing the Alumni and selling branded items to attendees. And as all these folks were at Vic High when I was there, it was such fun to see so many (yes, still) familiar faces. (And how about that cake! Thrifty’s outdid themselves recreating the Vic High logo.)

 

 

Robin Farquhar, VHS 1956 Vic High A Magical Place

Robin Farquhar, VHS 1956,  Vic High A Magical Place

By Linda Baker, VHS 1969

“Vic High was where I learned to be adventurous,” says Robin Farquhar, VHS 1956, “where I learned anything was possible. None of us thought we might fail at anything. We just wondered what we’d succeed at.”

It was the 1950s. World War II was well and truly over, there was great optimism, innovation, and expansion in the world, and travel was more feasible. “Vic High was a wonderful place to be,” says Robin, “very accepting of everyone and really at the top of its game. Our valedictorian, John Gilliland, graduated with the highest grade point average in BC that year.”

Robin attended Margaret Jenkins up to grade eight, then went straight to Vic High for grades nine to twelve. “We lived near Foul Bay and Fairfield roads right at the catchment border,” says Robin.  “My two brothers went to Oak Bay, but our parents had the good sense to send me to Vic High!”

After graduation, Robin earned a BA and MA in English Literature at UBC and taught high school in Sooke for two years, but discovered his true passion lay in educational administration. He was offered a full scholarship at the top school in North America for that discipline, The University of Chicago. His first position after earning his PhD was on the faculty at Ohio State University in Columbus. He then accepted the Chair of Educational Administration at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Five years later, he became the Dean of Education at the University of Saskatchewan, and after that, President of The University of Winnipeg.  Eight years later he was appointed as President of Carleton University in Ottawa, and retired from there at age 65.

Over the next 15 years he consulted internationally, assisting university leaders around the world, while continuing to live in Ottawa until one icy winter he began to question why he was struggling with such a cold climate. Luckily his Calgary-born wife Fran agreed and they moved home to Victoria in 2018.  “It had changed a lot while I was gone,” says Robin, “mostly for the good.”

Maybe it was Robin’s father, Hugh Farquhar, president of the University of Victoria in the early ‘seventies, who inspired him. The UVic Farquhar Auditorium was named after his father in recognition of his efforts to plan and develop the University Centre and Auditorium. Or maybe it really was his four years at Vic High.

“I was into everything at school,” says Robin. “I actually won the Activities Award with John Lancaster that year. Being involved in so many things really taught me to say, when opportunities arose throughout my life, ‘I can do that!’ ” A search of his name in the 1956 Camosun (available digitally on the Vic High Alumni website), reveals twelve entries, and his grad write-up says it all.

“This popular guy’s activities speak for themselves. Class Rep., Students’ Council Exec., Head Prefect, Sports’ Editor Camosunet, Camosun Editor, President Future Teachers’ Club. Badminton Club, Exec. French Club, Alpha Hi-Y, Grad Dance Team, Senior Rep. Rugby and Soccer, House Sports, Honour Student.”

“I was friends with Jim Taylor,” says Robin. “I’d taken (teacher) Stan Murphy’s Journalism class, and actually followed Jim into the high school sports stringer role at the Times newspaper when Jim started full-time with the paper.”

(Note: Jim Taylor went on to become a high-profile award-winning sports writer and author, and was inducted into the Vic High Black and Gold Honour Roll. Click here for more about Jim.)

Robin’s poem appeared in the 1956 Camosun.

Did you ever visit the attic, we ask? “We didn’t even know there was one,” says Robin. “We were just so focused on enjoying our school and maximizing all the opportunities it offered. It really was a magical place to be. It set the course for my life, one I made sure always included interesting things besides my professional work.”

Then there was the time he met BC’s Premier W.A.C. Bennett. He was best friends with Waldo Skillings, VHS 1956, son of Bennett’s Minister of Industry Waldo Skillings, VHS 1925. “Bennett would always come and talk with us kids when he came to meet with Waldo’s father,” says Robin. “One day – we were about 16 or 17 – he asked me if I was coming to the Leaders’ Debate. He then wrote out a question for me to ask. I waited at the mic after each candidate had spoken, then asked the question. ‘I’m glad you asked me that, young man!’ boomed Bennett, and away he went with his ready answer. I don’t remember now what the question was, but it was probably my first introduction to politics.”

Vic High owes its culture of acceptance, excellence and opportunity to countless people throughout its history. It’s reassuring to know those values have influenced so many who have in turn embodied them and influenced others. Robin’s many roles in Higher Education Policy and Management put him in a unique position as an influencer, and one can only imagine how many thousands of administrators and teachers and students have been touched by the spirit and values of Vic High that so profoundly inspired Robin throughout his life.

Thank you, Robin. You have made a difference, and continue to do so. (And just so you know, Vic High still is, and always will be, a magical place.)

2023 Black & Gold Dinner

We Gathered, We Honoured Our Own, and We Sang

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Postponed for three years due to the COVID pandemic, it was a great relief to organizers, inductees and guests to finally gather for the 4th Black and Gold Dinner May 13 at the Naden Wardroom, as eight Vic High alumni were inducted into the Black and Gold Honour Roll. 140 guests, including some who travelled from as far away as Ontario and Oregon, reconnected, reminisced, and shared stories and laughs and the views from the beautiful Signal Hill venue at the entrance to Esquimalt Harbour.

Some extraordinary Vic High students, leaders in their fields, helped alumni present each honouree to the assembled guests and other students also attended, all as guests of various alumni who donated their tickets. Nyla Sproule, VHS 2023, was surprised at how much enthusiasm attendees still have for Vic High saying, “I guess this proves that we really are all a Vic High family”. And of course, the evening ended with a rousing singing of the school song, Come Give A Cheer.

Three inductees attended in person. Pamela Madoff, VHS 1972, said later, “I thoroughly enjoyed myself and the video presentations were absolutely fascinating. Thanks again to everyone for honouring me in this way and bringing back some wonderful memories.” Sylvia Hosie, VHS 1961, was thrilled that her presentation video and display board contained wonderful photos of her late husband, Bill Hosie, and his late sister, Dorothy Hosie, as all three had met at Vic High and performed together throughout their lives. Mohammed Elewonibi spoke from the heart about his football experiences and about how Vic High teachers made him feel so welcome when he transferred there from St. Michael’s University School.

Two alumni were inducted posthumously – Lawrie and Jill Wallace, two were unable to travel – Ian McDougall and Ann Kipling, and Timothy Vernon was sidelined by health issues but sent a warm message to guests and organizers. Distinguished guests included past inductees Stew Smith, VHS 1955, David Day, VHS 1966, and Carole Sabiston, VHS 1957, Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Hillside, and School District 61 Superintendent Deb Whitten and Board Chair Nicole Duncan.

Here are links to the inductees’ videos:

Mohammed  Elewonibi, VHS 1983       Sylvia Hosie, VHS 1961     Ann Kipling, VHS 1951     Pamela Madoff, VHS 1972

Ian McDougall, VHS 1956                      Timothy Vernon, VHS 1963         Lawrie and Jill Wallace, VHS 1930 & VHS 1966

And here, in no particular order, are some photos of the event.

 

 

Rod Quin, VHS 1970 Artist, Innovator, Inspiring Imagineer

Rod Quin, VHS 1970    Artist, Innovator, Inspiring Imagineer                                                                   

By Linda Baker, VHS 1969                    May 2023

Vic High’s art teacher 1966 – 1988, Michael Hemming, would be thrilled  that yet another of his students, Rod Quin, VHS 1970, has made their way in the world of art, though perhaps in a way that Michael might never have imagined. Rod’s groundbreaking Ombrae, an extraordinary fusion of art and technology, has produced innovative sculptural images on over 90 commercial buildings around the world. As a scalable technology it has applications on fabric, watches, cars, and so much more. Earlier this year Rod was finally able to bring his technology home to a Vancouver Island building, the new Amazon Distribution Centre in Sidney, (dubbed Cascadia Junction).

3D pixels or Optical Tiles are precision-cut into a base material to create Sculptural Images. His initial application uses anodized aluminum panels as the base material for large-scale architectural art. Each Optical Tile is set at a precise angle according to the image to be displayed, and catches and reflects the changing light and viewing angle so images are constantly shifting and appear to come alive. Rod’s technology has almost limitless potential to reduce our energy use as the panels create a cushioning envelope that buffers environmental effects and insulates a building, thus reducing costs to manage interior air and temperature by upwards of 40%. In addition, of course, applying aesthetically pleasing art to large building surfaces definitely enhances our environments, and inspires the imagination to expand the boundaries of what’s possible in the world. Read more in this March 12, 2023 Times Colonist article: Panels create natural scenes on bare Amazon warehouse walls – Victoria Times Colonist 

Rod wasn’t that interested in school, and at S. J. Willis Junior Secondary he was mostly into sports. His father was an engineer, artist, and photographer so Rod learned photography at an early age and he and his father worked on many art projects together. He could draw but likely took the skill for granted, until an astute teacher at SJ Willis suggested he enrol in Michael Hemming’s new Art Specialty program when he got to Vic High.

“Michael’s program rescued me,” says Rod. “He took me under his wing and mentored me, encouraging me to explore my ideas and a lot of different mediums. He let me use his darkroom to develop and experiment with my own images, and helped create a very safe space for my experimentation. I ended up winning the Arts Specialty scholarship that year and enrolled in the Vancouver School of Art in 1970.” After a couple of years, Rod and future wife Nonie James, VHS 1970, spent a year travelling in Europe, then married in 1974 and moved to Comox. He designed and hand-built them a beautiful home where Nonie still lives. “We were married for about ten years,” says Rod, “but we’re still the best of friends.” Rod learned various skills like masonry and carpentry by doing them, an approach that often contributes to innovation as you better appreciate how things are constructed.

In 1980 Rod enrolled at Emily Carr University in Vancouver as a third-year student, and opportunities there also opened his eyes to various mediums and provided opportunities to explore. With the movie industry really taking off after Expo 86, Rod ended up spending 18 years designing and constructing sets, as an art director, sculptor, props builder, and special effects technician for major movie and TV productions like I, Robot, Seven Years In Tibet, Legends of the Fall, and the X-Files, X Men. More info here – www.rodquin.com.

In 1993 he spent several months as Artist-In-Residence at the Computer Science Lab at the University of British Columbia, experimenting with various ways to integrate art and computer technology. His Optical Tile idea had great potential, but it would be 10 years before technologies like 3D modelling and manufacturing machinery could turn his ideas into actual prototypes.

While working in the film industry, he also ran his own studio in downtown Vancouver creating architectural sculptures and continuing to bring together his skills and experience in (now) digital photography, science, math, and art. By 2003, his work in film special effects had shown him a way to finally put his Optical Tile idea into practice, and in 2005 he set up Quin Media Arts and Sciences to develop this innovative new technology, initially for architectural installations. Ninety buildings later, he’s also developing applications for his technology such as watch faces for Rolex and Cartier, swimsuit material for Speedo to create more hydrodynamic performances in the water, and vehicle applications for the likes of Lamborghini,  Ferrari, and McLaren. The Ombrae surface in the McLaren Speedtail seats can be programmed in the design phase to allow the driver and passengers to ‘slip’ into the seating position, but once there they are held by the ‘grip’ direction of the Ombrae 3D pixels.

Read more about his Ombrae technology here. Ombrae Studios: Vancouver Art, Design, Technology

Rod has manufacturing partners around the world – United States/Canada, Turkey, Italy, New Zealand/Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Mexico,and is excited about the potential for his technology to really change life on this planet. Landscape architects are contacting him about applications for sun and privacy screens, and the potential for residential applications awaits, not to mention the potential for this technology to change the course of energy use on the planet.

Michael Hemming was an extraordinary person who saw potential in students, who encouraged and supported them to experiment and learn, to stretch their imaginations and creativity and open up to possibilities. His influence is incalculable, but if ever we wanted proof of it, we need only look to Vic High alumni like Rod Quin and his creative, innovative, and very functional art, and be grateful for teachers like Michael Hemming and their dedication to empowering students to be the best they can be.

Read more about Michael Hemming here.

Doug Clement, VHS 1980 Night Photographer

Doug Clement, VHS 1980   Night Photographer

by King Lee, VHS 1959

There’s a reason why Doug Clement’s brilliant, self-taught photography is mostly done at night. For about four decades, he has worked nightshifts (9 p.m. to 5 a.m.)  in the Empress Hotel’s maintenance department, so a lot of his opportunities occur as he travels back and forth to the Metchosin home he shares with wife Mitoki. “It’s my life,” said Doug, who has become one of the most recognized local photographers on Facebook or Instagram. He says he mostly walks around and if he sees something, he takes his always-handy camera out and shoots the photos.

If you’re on Facebook, do yourself a favour and follow (4) Doug Clement Photography | Metchosin BC | Facebook  His page has 30k followers, and 22k Likes. His photos are inspiring, each one a work of art, and can be purchased in various formats.

Doug, 49, was born in Victoria to Pat and Andy Clement. He attended Margaret Jenkins Elementary School, Central Middle School (where he joined the photography club), and Vic High, graduating in 1978. He was 10 or 11 years old when he first became interested in photography and videography.

As a youngster, Doug was also interested in painting and working with clay but that became impossible after he developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a common condition that causes numbness, tingling and pain in the hand and forearm. Up until then, he had enjoyed art at Vic High with teacher Michael Hemmings. “He knew I had the talent,” Doug recalled. But said his choice of subjects (usually science fiction) wasn’t necessarily the teacher’s favourite. Doug’s school interests shifted to carpentry, boat-building, and metal work at Fairey Tech.

He remembers “almost” going to the graduation dance at Vic High but never quite getting there because of what could almost be called a riot. Doug said that as they were about to go into Vic High for the dance, someone threw a beer bottle at a passing police car and the “riot squad” showed up and prevented anyone from entering.

His first big photographic break came while he was at Vic High, August 8,1977, when he watched and filmed as Ogden Point docks burned to the ground. The dock area was filled with newsprint and lumber, and the blaze could be seen as far as Port Angeles in Washington state across the then-Strait of Juan de Fuca. Thousands of onlookers gathered to watch the spectacle. The next year, at age 18, Doug was the photographer for Victoria punk/metal band Day Glo Abortions.

His climb to online notoriety came about 10 years ago when, very early one morning, Doug noticed fog creeping up a nearby hill. He wondered if it could be photographed and the next day, he bought a $500 camera and experimented. The shots came out so well that people on social media began to take notice of his photography.

Three months later, he took shots of a lightning storm which appeared on Shaw Cable, CHEK-TV, CTV and Global. “My camera was always around,” said Doug. He loved the fact that, with digital cameras, trial and error was easily available to him.

He has stopped  photographing weddings and is concentrating on producing calendar photos which are sold across Canada and locally at Munro’s Books. Doug estimates he has taken 500,000 to a million photographs so far. “It’s a love,” says Doug, “it’s something in your heart.”

 

We Found Ernest!

We Found Ernest!

By Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Rob Lawson, DurWest labourer, found a 1915 Diary belonging to Ernest Fairey in the Vic High Auditorium ceiling during the big seismic upgrade 2020-2023. We posted the story and linked it from our March 2023 e-newsletter. Full story here.

Barb Voth

Well it turns out our little newsletter travels a lot! Barb Wheatley-Voth, VHS 1961, forwarded it to her long-time friend Karen Farr, Oak Bay HS 1961, in Australia. (Thanks, Barb!) They were schoolmates at Lansdowne Junior High. Karen sent it on to her cousin Randall Fairey in Kelowna, grandson of Frank Fairey (after whom Fairey Tech is named) and great-nephew of Ernest Fairey, whose 1915 Diary was found recently in the Vic High Auditorium ceiling. (Did you get all that?) Randall sent us a photo and more info about Ernest, shared a bio of his grandfather for the Vic High Archives & Museum, and told us a bit about himself.

Ernest Fairey, Vic High Joiner/Carpenter

Ernest Fairey came to Canada in 1906 on the Empress of Britain with his brother William from their home near Liverpool, U.K. Their father, a Joiner/Carpenter had been killed on the job, leaving 12 children and a pregnant wife Elizabeth. She took her husband’s employer to Old Bailey, filing a lawsuit for non-payment of workers’ compensation benefits in place at the time, and she won! Nonetheless, many of her offpsring set off for a new life in North America, some to B.C. and some to California, and she eventually followed.

Ernest, a Joiner like his father, and brother William, a Bricklayer, came to Victoria in 1906 and began working for the Department of Education at various schools in the city. His 1915 Diary, the one Rob found in the Auditorium ceiling, records him working at Central School and South Park School. In fact, we believe it’s quite likely Ernest was on the crew that built the current Vic High. When their brother, 18 year old Frank arrived in Victoria in 1907, having earned a Teaching Certificate in England, Ernest took him to his boss and said, ‘You should hire him.” So they did.

Ernest married, had two children, worked at numerous schools in Victoria doing carpentry work, lost his 1915 Diary in the Auditorium ceiling at Vic High, and in 1922 emigrated to California. His last career was in San Francisco as Superintendent of the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company. He died in 1952, age 72.

Who Is Frank T. Fairey and Why is Fairey Tech Named After Him?

Meanwhile, in 1907 Frank was sent to teach in Quesnel, thus beginning a long career in education, primarily in Technical Education, with a break to fight in World War I. In 1917 he enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces and served overseas, continuing his military training at the war’s end as a Reservist. In 1933 he left the Irish Fusiliers, stepping down as Commanding Officer of the Regiment. He returned to teaching, particularly in Technical Education, and eventually left to become the Director of Technical Education for the Province of BC.

During World War II, not only did Francis Fairey lead Industrial and Technical Education, but he was named by the Federal Government to be the Regional Director of the Dominion-Provincial War Emergency Training Program (it became known as the Canadian Vocational Training Program). Technical education shops were first opened at Vic High in 1943 as part of the training effort for the Second World War. The facilities were built to the west of the playfield by trainee soldiers with assistance from Vic High students. Trades such as carpentry, bricklaying, and metalwork were taught.

Frank recalled:  “We had classes going night and day for welders and electricians, men for the army, the navy and the air force in numerous trades.  We trained 40,000 people in simple skills in British Columbia during those years to man industry.  I had something I have never had before or since, unlimited authority.  I could say, “I want that building.”  I had authority from the Government to take it, and equip it, so that we could turn out young people with simple skills.  That’s where you learn the tremendous potential there is in the young people.  Girls as well as boys.”

In 1945, Col. Fairey succeeded Samuel J. Willis (Vic High Principal 1908 – 1916) as Deputy Minister of Education.

In September 1949 classes began in new Industrial Arts facilities which had been added onto the south end of the wartime building at Vic High, to provide shops for electrical, automotive, sheet metal, welding and woodwork plus classrooms and drafting rooms. The enlarged facility was named the F.T. Fairey Technical Unit and immediately became a focal point for technical education in Victoria and beyond, both for daytime and evening adult education classes. Additions were made to the facility In the 1950s, including a much larger auto-shop complex and an electronics shop and classroom. Later renamed the Fairey Technical Centre, in addition to previous disciplines it also housed classes for industrial design, art metal and jewelry, and even dance. The facility was closed in 2011 and replaced with Fairey Tech, a new 57,000 square foot addition to the north side of Vic High.

Frank Fairey had many passions in his life. He had a brief political career and was the Dean’s Warden of Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria. He also worked for UNESCO and spent a long time in Burma. But the main love of his life was Technical Education. While BCIT grounds include a Fairey Lane, particularly poignant as Frank Fairey’s great-granddaughter (Randall’s daughter) is a Professor of Nursing there, we at Vic High will always be proud to be the home of the inaugural and still leading Technical Education program in BC. We will ensure Frank Fairey’s dedication to technical education is honoured in perpetuity, the only facility to bear the name of such an extraordinary man.

The complete history of Fairey Tech and Frank Fairey appeared in the Spring 2011 Vic High Alumni News Bulletin

Randall Fairey, Grandson of Frank Fairey

Randall’s career has been a distinguished one, notably to start, he was the first Radiation Oncologist to graduate from UBC Medical School (1969). He thought he’d go into Plastic Surgery, however his training program included a rotation into the (then) BC Cancer Institute and he discovered he’d rather apply his skills to those whose need was greatest. 1994 – 1997 he worked at the Vancouver Cancer Centre, and in 1998 was sent to Kelowna to open the new Cancer Center of the Southern Interior as head of the Radiation Oncology Department. He’s an amateur historian and genealogist, and like his grandfather, served the Anglican Church, as Executive Officer to the Bishop of the Kootenay Diocese.

Thank you, Randall. We thank you for helping us expand our knowledge of your uncle Ern and his lost 1915 Diary, for your thorough biography of your grandfather, Frank T. Fairey, and for donating numerous of his certificates, documents and photos to the Vic High Archives and Museum.

Beta Boys, School Spirit in Spades

Beta Boys, School Spirit in Spades

1967-68 Beta Boys

King Lee, VHS 1959 & Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Barrie Moen, VHS 1968 & Tore Valdal, VHS 1970

Peter George, VHS 1969 remembers Gamma Hi-Y

 

BETA: a development stage of near completion, but not yet ready for release.

BETA: the second letter of the Greek alphabet, (not the first)

 

Some of those 1960s Vic High Beta Boys might agree they weren’t ready for release into the world quite yet, but we’re sure they saw themselves as second to none. Raising school spirit, serving the community, and generally having themselves a heck of a good time, all seemed to be hallmarks of Beta Boys’ days at Vic High in the 1960s  and ’70s. Camosuns from 1967 to 1972 reveal various service clubs each year, some separate for boys or girls, and one in 1974 for boys and girls. The first Vic High service club was founded in 1877 to focus on raising school spirit and developing debating skills. In 1911 it became the Beta/Delta Club. We’re not sure when the club disappeared, but 1966-67 it was resurrected as the Beta Club. No formal debating was on the agenda, although it’s safe to assume lively discussions likely ensued over what activities to pursue, (and perhaps who would do the jar store run? LOL)

We spoke to a few of the Beta members from the 1960s for this article, and memories on a few details were a bit hazy. It has been over 50 years, after all. Some weren’t sure how they’d gotten started each year, how they were initiated as members, or even where they met. But they definitely remember the friendships, the laughs, and the lessons they learned from their community service.

                                      

Left to right:  Doug Puritch, 1969, Jan Bentley, 1969, Ken Gower, 1968, Bob Hissink, 1968,  Tony Cable, 1968

Doug Puritch, VHS 1969, described the Beta Boys that year as ‘unorthodox’. Yes, they wore old cheerleader skirts to cheer on the rugby and basketball teams, but they were really a service club. “You had to be invited to join,” says Doug, and once a member, were seen by some as the “cool guys” of the day. Whether that was true or not, Doug has great memories of his years at Vic High. “I was really proud of Vic High,” Doug said, and he continues to stay connected with his buddies, specially those crazy 1969 BC Basketball Championship Totems. Of course, there was the time the Beta Boys outdid themselves at the 1968/69 Vic High Circus. Does anyone remember the standing-ovation performance by the Beta Belly Dancers? Just sayin’…

Jan Bentley from the Class of ’69 remembered their role as a cheerleading squad for Vic High teams. He wouldn’t call Beta Boys a fraternity but did recall they “tissue-papered” Oak Bay High. “We were all really good friends”, says Jan.

Ken Gower, VHS 1968, former Victoria High School Alumni Association chair, thought the Beta Boys were more of a social club, modelled after university fraternities, although they were involved in service to and raising money for the Greater Victoria community. He and Tony Cable, VHS 1968, remembered both raising funds through “penny drives” (when pennies had some value) and competing with another boys club, Gamma, and the girls’ Y-Teens. Ken and Tony both remembered weekly lunch-hour trips to nearby Victor School, which enrolled disabled students, and bouncing balls, playing catch and pushing wheelchairs on school grounds there. Tony described Beta Boys as friends of like minds learning how to be part of a group, and developing leadership qualities. He said many members went on to become future leaders in their communities, including Bob Hissink, VHS 1968, who became a vice-president of the mammoth McDonald’s fast-food restaurant chain.

1968-69 Beta Boys.

Barrie Moen, VHS 1969,  Remembers Beta Boys

The Beta Boys was a group created to foster good will at the school and in the neighbourhood. One particular activity I remember well was our volunteer time at Victor Street School in the Fernwood area. At the time, 1966-67, the school was for children and young adults who had severe learning and behaviour issues. We would walk down to the school once a week to help with the school’s lunch time activities. Certainly an eye-opening and thought-provoking experience for teen-aged boys.

Personally, the experience led to more volunteer time at the old Glendale Hospital once located where Camosun’s Interurban Campus is now, and at the Victoria Boys’ Club as it was known then. Victor Street School morphed into an alternative school and the need for the Beta Boys volunteer time faded away. But we stayed active helping organize pep rallies, ad-hoc bottle drives, and a few other money raising comedies.

Of course there was always the odd game of nickel-and-dime-poker played behind open text books propped up on the tables of the venerable old cafeteria. Watch man always present. Those teacher monitors could be sneaky.

Yes, it’s true and for some reason, not questioned in today’s culture, we occasionally wore skirts and led the cheers at soccer matches. (Mercifully, I was playing in those matches.)  Those brave Beta Boys were definitely a special sports moment in the 1967-68 year at Vic High.

Tore Valdal, VHS 1970

Thanks, Tore, for giving us names of some of the boys in this crazy photo.

There were a few Totems in this picture.  Far left is Jan Bentley. Maybe Dave Mulcahy and Mike Chornoby.  Yes, it was James Scott in the skirt. There is another picture of the guys in the ’69 Camosun.  From the grad photos info other members are Dan Wallis, Barrie Moen, Ian MacLean Doug Puritch, Ron Dworski, Steve Carroll, Ken Lomas, Terry Jordan, Gerry Vanderjagt, Brian Henry. (grade 11 members:  Mel Sangha, Bob Hope, Don Wilson).

The ’70 Camosun grads info include Mel Sangha, Bruce Gower, Dave Osborne, Rod Quin, Keith James, Mike Waberski, George Biggs, Brian Dunn, Wayne O’Malley, Mike Turner, John Hamilton, Doug Cunliffe, Roger La Salle, Hans De Goede, Greg Hall and Paul Scott.

  Gamma Hi-Y – Some Serious Fundraising

While the Beta boys seem quite connected to sports at Vic High, Gamma Hi-Y – at least in 1968-69 – took a different approach. “Membership in Beta was limited to boys,” says Peter George, VHS 1969, “so some of us joined Gamma Hi-Y. ”  Despite the yearbook photo showing only  boys, Peter was adamant the previously girls-only club included girls too. “We put on this incredible art auction at the Empress Hotel,”  Peter says, “with works from artists like Fenwick Lansdowne and Tony Hunt. We raised a lot of money for World Service.” 

Celebrity Baker In the Making

Celebrity Baker In the Making

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Sawyer Tolson was just a toddler when their mom began showing them the fine art of pancake-making, naturally with lots of chocolate chips! By age seven they were baking all the time, and now this Grade 11 Vic High student can’t get enough of it. They even have their own cupboards at home, one for baking equipment and one for ingredients.

They competed recently in a Skills Canada competition at Camosun’s Interurban campus against two people with restaurant experience, and five international students, and got some great feedback from the judges. As well as getting that early baking start, Sawyer says Vic High’s great  Food Studies courses and fantastic teachers are the reason she took the plunge to compete. “I definitely made some mistakes,” they say, “and it was a little intimidating, but I learned so much, like ‘check your ingredients’  and ‘just keep breathing!’, and I’m glad I competed.”

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Lemon Meringue Tarts, and dinner rolls were the three items Sawyer had to complete, each by a specific deadline. “I’d never done meringue before,” they say, “and you definitely have to schedule your tasks to get things done on time. I watch a lot of baking shows, but luckily this competition wasn’t quite as stressful as those seem to be.”

Their own bakery is definitely in their future, and with some luck and good connections, they’re bound to find a great bakery Work Experience while still at Vic High. Next summer they plan to get involved with Seed the City, a summer program where youth gain work experience in gardening and farming and earn school credits.

Sawyer was very keen to attend Vic High and loves it. They began Grade 9 at the current Topaz Campus, and while they’ve been inside the ‘real’ Vic High when their father coached badminton there, finally getting to go back as a Grade 12 student and graduate from there is very exciting. “I hope I get to sign my name in the attic,” they say, “and I want to check out the new Foods classroom. “

Sawyer’s enthusiasm is contagious. Clearly baking is their passion, one that grew from those wonderful early experiences with their mom. It’s clear to see that passion is being encouraged at Vic High where  acceptance and inclusivity and individualizing each student’s learning are such highly-treasured values. We can’t wait to sample some of Sawyer’s baking!

PS We’re loving the Vic High logo’d Chef Jacket!

You’ll Never Believe This!

You’ll Never Believe This!

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Rob Lawson is a DurWest labourer currently working at Vic High. March 8, 2023 he was on scaffolding removing plaster in the auditorium ceiling to make way for backing for new sound system speakers. One hole dead center in the ceiling coffers gave him a little trouble so he pulled away more plaster. To his surprise, he saw a small burgundy booklet with the word Diary on the cover. “I couldn’t believe what I saw!” says Rob. Thankfully as a bit of a historian, he knew it could be very precious so removed it carefully and turned it in to Gord Wallace, School District 61’s Site Manager for the seismic upgrade. Gord emailed us and it was turned over to the Vic High Archives & Museum.

The 1915 Canadian Pocket Diary belonged to Ernest Fairey, older brother of Frank T. Fairey, after whom Fairey Tech was originally named. We found Ernest’s marriage certificate online, matched his birthdate with information found online about Frank, and learned that his trade was Joiner. Numerous entries in the Diary – materials lists, etc. – definitely bear that out. Inserted in the diary were some used Canadian stamps (worth pennies only) and a BC Electric Railway ticket.

Ernest lived at 239 Johnson Street at the time of his marriage. The Identification information in the diary shows in 1915 he lived at 1555 Pembroke Street. Various entries suggest he also did work at Boys Central School, and possibly even at South Park Elementary. We also learned that Ernest belonged to the I.O.O.F. Masonic Temple, Victoria, Camosun Lodge No.60 and paid dues of $6.00 a year.

DurWest Project Foreman Phil Aurora says it’s location underneath a very thick (original) steel beam suggests it was dropped when Ernest was doing something in the attic  and he couldn’t get it out.  The whole area had recently had new insulation blown in so the beams are completely covered now. How curious that Rob needed a hole in the ceiling right where Ernest’s diary sat.

“We are so appreciative of workers at the jobsite,” says Archives & Museum Manager Annie Boldt, VHS 1967, “when they find these kinds of things and realize the importance of them. We have little or no information like this about the original build in 1912-1914, so we’re very grateful to Rob for his find.”

Archives & Museum volunteers hope to be able to meet with various workers from the jobsite to capture their stories about the job, as well as with the architects, designers, and school district staff who are part of the project team. Phil will shortly turn over to the Archives & Museum, a folder of newspaper clippings found during demolition.

2023 Black & Gold Inductees

2023 Black & Gold Inductees

May 13, 2023 at the 4th Black & Gold Dinner, we celebrate each of these extraordinary Vic High alumni. They will join sixteen current members of the Black & Gold Honour Roll, from Emily Carr, VHS 1888 to Sam Dunn, VHS 1992. A video about each past inductee is linked from the full list here.

Lawrie Wallace, VHS 1930 (1913 – 2006) 

Lawrie Wallace, 1913-2006, was a student at Vic High (VHS 1930), returning as a teacher for several years before joining the BC Public Service. His influence as Deputy Provincial Secretary and Deputy Premier was legendary. He was a key figure in Vic High’s 1976 Centennial Celebration, along with Sylvia Hosie and popular teacher and drama coach Tommy Mayne, a 2018 Black and Gold Honouree. Wallace was the driving force behind the 1948-49 fundraising for the Memorial Stadium, and was instrumental in helping create the Victoria High School Alumni Association. In recent years the beautiful Vic High Auditorium was renamed in his honour.

 

 

 

 

Jill Wallace, VHS 1966 (1948 – 2011)

Jill Wallace, 1948-2011, was the school’s top student in 1966, and also spent her life championing Vic High. She followed in her father’s footsteps in public service, eventually becoming BC’s Deputy Attorney General. She was a tireless and valued member of the Alumni Association, and spent countless hours helping organize and promote the school’s valuable archives and museum collections until her untimely death in 2011.

 

 

 

 

Sylvia Hosie, VHS 1961

Sylvia Hosie, VHS 1961, is one half of “The Hosies”, Victoria’s legendary entertainment couple whose love story began on the Vic High auditorium stage about 60 years ago. Sylvia has carved a name for herself as an actor, choreographer, director and writer while husband Bill, VHS 1960, had CBC starring roles as a singer and comedic and serious actor. Sylvia went on to a teaching career at George Jay Elementary and was instrumental in developing the performing arts department at Claremont Senior Secondary school.

 

 

 

 

Timothy Vernon, VHS 1963

Victoria High School’s musical gift to Canada, Maestro Timothy Vernon, a grad of 1963,  wraps up a 43-year gig with Pacific Opera Victoria next June. But he’s not leaving POV empty. The founding director of POV in 1980, Timothy has programmed the company’s next two season, adding “I’ve got 10 years of energy and ideas and plans left.” His many awards include the Order of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Lieutenant Governor’s Arts and Music Award and Opera Canada’s Ruby Award. Timothy has been the guest conductor at every Canadian professional opera company: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Nova Scotia. In recognition of his highly acclaimed work, the maestro has received honourary degrees from the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University.

 

Mohammed Elewonibi, VHS 1983

The Super Bowl ring belongs to Mohammed “Mo” Elewonibi, a member of the Washington Redskins when they won the 1992 NFL championship. Nigerian-born Elewonibi, VHS 1983, played rugby, soccer and basketball at Vic High and began playing football seriously in Utah. In 1989 he won the prestigious Outland Trophy, awarded to the best lineman in U.S. football. 1997-2005 he played for the BC Lions, then the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

 

 

 

 

Pamela Madoff, VHS 1972

Pamela Madoff is her name and Victoria’s heritage is her passion. A 1972 Victoria High School graduate, Pam served a quarter of a century on Victoria City Council. One of her biggest, most successful projects was working to keep Victoria’s Old Town district intact. Her passion for heritage preservation also included advocating to keep Vic High’s 1914 Grant Street building, currently under major renovation and seismic upgrading. Vic High was founded in 1876 on the grounds of what is now Central Middle School, and 2026 will mark its sesquicentennial. The Grant Street building was finished and occupied in 1914, added on to in 1956 and 2011, and will re-open January 2024, 110 years ‘new’. Pam’s work has gained her many honours, including Heritage B.C.’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her tireless efforts to keep historic sites from disappearing. She chaired the Victoria Heritage Advisory Committee, was a B.C. governor of the Heritage Canada Foundation and served on the Advisory Design Board and Civic Trust.

 

 

Ian McDougall, VHS 1956

The Grammy belongs to Ian McDougall of the Canadian group The Boss Brass, which won the 1983 Grammy Award for best jazz instrumental album. McDougall, VHS 1956, grew up in Victoria where at age 11, he joined the Victoria Boys Band hoping to play drums. But there wasn’t a full drum kit there, so he looked at the trumpet. “Play the trombone, son,” his father said. “Because a good trombone player is never out of work.” And play the trombone he did. At age 13, he began playing venues around Victoria and became so good that by 1960, he was touring Great Britain with the John Dankworth band. He returned to B.C. two years later and played with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra before earning Bachelors and Masters degrees in music at UBC. He then taught music at UVic from 1988 until he retired as Professor Emeritus in 2003.

 

 

 

Ann Kipling, VHS 1951

Ann Kipling, VHS 1951, is an impressionistic artist who has received national recognition for her work. She attended the Vancouver School of Arts in the 1950s, long before it changed its name in 1978 to Emily Carr University of Art and Design, after another former Vic High student and worldrenowned artist. In 2004 she was awarded the inaugural Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts, one of Canada’s most prestigious honours. She’s also received an honorary doctorate from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and the Canada Council Victor Martyn LynchStaunton Award.

’59 Totems to be Enshrined at Vic High

’59 Totems to be Enshrined at Vic High

by King Lee, VHS 1958

The 1958-1959 Victoria High School Totems, the first Vancouver Island team to win the B.C. high school boys basketball championship, will be enshrined in the Vic High auditorium, thanks to an anonymous doner. When the seismic upgrading at the Grant Street building is completed (hopefully sometime late fall), the 12 team members will each have their plaques mounted on the Lawrie Wallace Auditorium seats in back-to-back rows of six each. Plaques will be mounted for players Darrell Lorimer, David Nelson, David Black, Tom Wyatt, Barry Sadler, Robin Barnes, Tom Collett, Keith Hart, Bill Hobbis and John Balloch, team manager Norm Isherwood and coach George (Porky) Andrews. “They’re obviously out of their mind,” laughed David Nelson, referring to the anonymous doner. In a more serious vein, David added, “As we get older, you start thinking about legacies. Getting a bit of recognition is good.”

Five of the players have since died, Robin, Darrell, Tom Collett, and in the last year, Bill and Tom Wyatt. Porky, who was recruited in the late 1930’s by the University of Oregon Ducks and became that team’s captain, also played for the Victoria Blue Ribbons and was a player/coach for the Victoria Dominoes. He came to Vic High to teach, and earned a reputation as a tough basketball coach, but brought the Vic High Totems to provincial titles in 1959, 1962, and 1969. (Bill Garner coached the Totems to their 1966 BC Provincials win.) The ‘new gym’ at Vic High, part of the 1950s addition to the school, is officially named the Andrews Gym. He  passed away on May 26, 1999.

This pix includes captain Tom Wyatt. Mr. Hartley kept him after school on team photo day and he was missed! The team made sure he was front and center for this photo, the morning the team arrived back from the Provincials on the overnight boat from Vancouver.

The recent loss of Tom Wyatt was particularly hard for David, who kept in touch and had spoken to him via Zoom just weeks before Tom succumbed to prostate cancer. “He was such a fit guy, physically.” David described Tom as a bit of a vagabond who graduated with a doctorate in psychology and was a professor, mainly in Asia. He taught in Papua, New Guinea, Singapore, Brunei and was teaching in Macau when he died. “My kids loved him,” David said, adding that Tom also had a terrific sense of humour.

The two Davids, both already accomplished players and athletes, had transferred to Vic High in 1958, David Nelson from Esquimalt and David Black from Mount View (now Spectrum), in order to ‘play with the best’. Officially, though, (wink, wink),their transfer was based on gaining access to Vic High’s unique law course. Ironically David Black did go on to become a highly-respected lawyer.

After a 1958-59 season-opening loss to the Esquimalt Dockers, the Totems marched to the city and Island titles before capturing the 14th annual provincial tournament. A crowd of close to 5,000 witnessed the game at the UBC War Memorial gymnasium. David’s most memorable recollection was the game against powerhouse Vancouver College Fighting Irish. The Totems fell behind in the first half and instead of heading into the locker room at halftime, Coach Porky directed them under the stands where he dressed them down. The team clawed back to win the game and went on to beat Courtenay Towhees, 49-26, in the title game. The two Davids both went on to play for the UBC Thunderbirds basketball squad and became involved in the UBC Alumni, helping to raise about $4 million in scholarships for the university.

1960 alumnus Ray Pauwels says he’ll take his memories of the championship win to his grave!

 As I recall, one of the Vancouver radio stations (CKNW?) broadcast the game on Saturday night and I was glued to the radio. The Totems had already beaten Courtney in the Island final so they had their number and the result was never in doubt as indicated by the final score. First thing, on Monday morning back at school, the student body welcomed the team back in the auditorium and when Mr Grant fired up the school band to “Come Give a Cheer” we almost blew the roof off the place. The standing ovation lasted forever!         I was sad to hear that Bill Hobbis and Tom Wyatt have both passed recently. They were both incredible athletes.

Totems Team members began reunions every five years but are now getting together every two years at the Union Club in Victoria. They last met there for Bill Hobbis’ Celebration of Life. David Nelson has kindly agreed to donate his 1959 Totems Championship jacket to the Vic High Archives and Museum, the last of the 10  original jackets in existence. Thanks, David!

Here’s links to some related stories on our website:  1959-Vic-High-Totems-relive-Island.pdf (vichigh.com)     2012-Nwsltr-1959-Totems.pdf (vichigh.com) 

And one in the Victoria TimesColonist by Cleve Dheensaw, VHS 1974 1959 Vic High Totems relive Island’s first B.C. basketball title – Victoria Times Colonist

Note: Interest in Auditorium Seat Plaques is high. 43  were ordered in 2022 alone. If you’ve been meaning to order one, now’s the time while seats are still available. 

Colin Bonneau, VHS 1965, Combines Music, Teaching and Weightlifting

Colin Bonneau, VHS 1965, Combines Music, Teaching and Weightlifting

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Friday January 13, 2023 will be a very lucky day for VHS alumnus Colin Bonneau, aka ‘The Organist With Pipes’ when Strathcona County, Alberta honours him with his photo on the Millennium Place Sports Wall of Recognition for outstanding achievement in sport. The honours happen only every five years, and we’re pretty sure Colin is the only church organist/powerlifter to receive the honour. Colin began training with a friend from his choir in 1998, “I was always pretty strong,” he says. He soon found his strength and discipline led to him eventually setting and breaking over 90 powerlifting records worldwide. His best bench press lift was at age 60 – 535 pounds! “I initially thought, ‘let’s see where this goes’, and ended up succeeding beyond my wildest dreams!” Not bad for a guy who considers powerlifting ‘just a hobby’.

Powerlifting was not a thing when he attended Vic High, though he did participate in the broad (long) jump and the 100 and 200 yard relays, and played wing with the Titans Rugby team, proudly wearing his block V. But music was and to this day remains his passion. “I played trumpet at Central Junior High under Mr. Grant, and I have fond memories of playing euphonium at Vic High under Mr. Sample, says Colin. He also played viola in the orchestra and the Greater Victoria Junior Symphony under Violet DeLong, and wrote some incidental music for a small string ensemble for the school play The Neighbours under Mr. Dulmage.

“I enjoyed almost all my teachers,” Colin goes on, “Mr. Wing throwing chalk at daydreamers, Mr. Evans, Mrs. Snead, Mr. Price, and of course Tommy Mayne. I blame my addiction to puns on him!  I also learned the value of working with and as a team. I enjoyed our class reunions, the 100th anniversary [of the building] in 2014, and look forward to our 60th class reunion…I hope!”

Luxembourg, 2001, International Powerlifting Federation, Colin’s first World’s Master’s Bench Press competition (trying – and failing, says Colin – to sing along with O Canada). Germany is in second place, Finland is in third place.

After graduating from UVic in 1973, Colin taught school in Ladysmith, Port McNeil, and Victoria, before moving in 1982 to Sherwood Park, Alberta where he met and married his second wife. “32 years of wedded bliss! He worked until retirement in 2011 as a band teacher in Edmonton Separate and Edmonton Public schools. From 1983 to the present, he’s been pianist, organist and music director at various churches, currently St. David’s United Church in Leduc, Alberta. “I took piano lessons in Victoria from Eric Edwards, father of Vaughn Edwards, and from well-known jazz pianist George Essihos,” says Colin, “and I recall playing in Victoria at Fairfield  United Church and St. Luke’s Anglican Church, in Langford at Gordon United Church, and at Brechin United Church in Nanaimo.” He also plays tuba in the Mission Hill Brass Band and in his own brass quintet- the Beaverhill Brass Quintet – and is on call to play The Last Post on the bugle.

A man of many, many talents. We salute you, Colin Bonneau (yes, he’s the older brother of Marv Bonneau, VHS 1968), and congratulate you on all your successes.

Note: Here’s a CBC article and video about Colin.

Maia Looi, VHS 2022, Flexibility the Key to Learning

Flexibility the Key to Learning, Says Vic High’s Top Academic Student for 2021-22

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Maia Looi was back at Vic High recently, accepting her Governor General’s award from Principal Aaron Parker as the top academic student at Vic High for 2021-22. As such, she also received the Vic High Alumni-funded Peter Smith Centennial Award of $1000 and her name will be added to the list of top academic students on permanent display at the school.

Maia’s main interest while at Vic High was computer science, so it’s perhaps no surprise she’s enrolled in a five-year Computer Engineering program at Waterloo University. “I’d like to end up in network security,” says Maia, “because it’s a chance to really affect how the world works.”

Waterloo’s Co-op program, the largest of its kind in North America, involves students alternating every four months between studies and paid work experiences. “It’s a key reason I was interested in Waterloo,” says Maia. “Students get the chance to help pay off their tuition, plus 90% of students in the program get offers to return to one of the places they did work experience.”

Vic High Principal Aaron Parker presents 2022 VHS grad Maia Looi with Governor General’s Award.

Over half Maia’s time at Vic High coincided with the COVID pandemic which dramatically altered how students gathered and learned. But it seems Vic High was able to pivot, maybe better than most, and continue to deliver its flexible, individualized approach to learning. At least that’s how Maia sees it. “The teaching staff at Vic High are really understanding,” says Maia. “They really support students’ different learning styles, and taught us how to learn, not just facts. It allowed me to grow as a person.”

Maia starts her first Co-op stint January 9 in Vancouver in a full-time software engineering position. “Waterloo has a huge network of partners,” says Maia, “and you apply and are screened and interviewed and hopefully hired, just like any other job. We don’t take summers off in the Co-op program, and have to do six paid Co-op work terms, so it extends the program by a year. But it’s definitely worth it.”

The Peter Smith Centennial Award is funded annually through a Vancouver Foundation investment made by the Vic High Alumni with funds generated at the 1976 Vic High Centennial Celebrations. 2026 marks the school’s 150th anniversary, and the Alumni is already planning a second Vic High history book and celebrations to mark the occasion.

Barry Gough, VHS 1956, Receives Prestigious Admirals Medal

Barry Gough, VHS 1956, Receives Prestigious Admirals Medal

by Mary Anne Skill, VHS 1975

May 26 2022, Dr. Barry Gough, former Victoria High School teacher and Vic High Alumni Board Chair, local historian and author, and distinguished alumni of the University of Victoria was presented with The Admirals’ Medal at a Naval Association of Canada luncheon at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. The award honours Barry’s contribution to maritime studies and his lifetime achievement as a global maritime and naval historian. Gough is considered one of Canada’s premier historians and biographers, and his insightful research and lucid writing spanning five decades have earned him high distinction and many awards.

Established in 1985 in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the Naval Service of Canada, the Admirals’ Medal is bestowed upon individual Canadians in recognition of their outstanding achievements in the advancement of maritime affairs in Canada. Named for two Rear-Admirals, George Stephens and Victor Brodeur, and Vice-Admiral Rollo Mainguy, the silver medal is awarded annually for outstanding achievement in the areas of maritime-related science, technology and academic studies or for the application of practical maritime skills warranting special recognition. Barry Gough is the 35th recipient.

Former Chief of the Defence Staff and Commander of the RCN, retired admiral John Anderson made the presentation along with Jan Dent of the Admirals’ Medal Foundation, with the citation:

“Dr Barry M. Gough is Professor Emeritus of History at Wilfrid Laurier University and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, with additional affiliations including Past President of the Canadian Nautical Research Society and of the British Columbia Historical Federation, founding member of the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States, and Archives By-Fellow Churchill College Cambridge UK.  He is recognized for his lifetime achievement as a global maritime and naval historian, beginning with a pioneering study of The Royal Navy and the Northwest Coast of North America, 1810-1914 (1971), through some thirty major volumes and numerous articles, culminating with the magisterial Pax Britannica: Ruling the Waves and Keeping the Peace Before Armageddon (2014) and Churchill and Fisher: Titans at the Admiralty (2017), a body of work which has earned him international acclaim as a Canadian scholar of the highest order”.

One of Gough’s books, From Classroom to Battlefield, Victoria High School and the First World War, was published in 2014 and is available at local bookstores, online at amazon.ca, or available through the Vic High Archives & Museum once Vic High reopens in early 2024.

See other posts on this website about or by Barry Gough.

Trees of Remembrance, Avenue of Sacrifice – Victoria High School Alumni Association (vichigh.com)

Vic High History – Victoria High School Alumni Association

 

https://www.uvic.ca/givingtouvic/award-background-info/g/b_gough.php

Photographer Kent Wong, VHS 1971, Clicks With Vic High Teacher

Photographer Kent Wong, VHS 1971,  Clicks With Vic High Teacher

by King Lee, VHS 1958

Kent Wong, who achieved the title of Master of Photographic Arts in 2008, credits former Victoria High School teacher Bruce Chan with pointing him in the right career direction. Now 14 years later, Kent has received a rare honour from the Professional Photographers of Canada, BC Region. In November this year, Kent joined five others in an exclusive group in the organization’s  77-year history, bestowed with the prestigious title of Associateship. The award is given for service in an executive capacity and recognizes exemplary service to the organization.

Kent’s introduction to photography began at a young age with a fold-out camera owned by his parents, who still live in their home on Chambers Street near Vic High. Kent lives in Kamloops but travels to Victoria often, six times so far this year. He attended George Jay Elementary, Central Junior High and Vic High, where he joined the Photography Club sponsored by teacher Bruce Chan. Despite their 14-year age gap they became friends, and “we ended up spending time together,” Kent said. Bruce eventually left teaching and became a well-known Victoria landscaper.

“(The photo darkroom is) where I spent most of my time,” Kent admitted. The club had eight members, Kent remembered, and one of them was neighbour Kelvin Chan (no relation to the teacher), who shared with Kent the darkroom work needed before digital photography was even invented. Kent, Photography Club president in Grade 12, and Kelvin ended up doing most of the photographic work in their class’s 1971 Camosun yearbook. Despite that, he still managed to maintain an A-minus or B-plus grade average.

Photography Club L to R: Rob Salmon, Aristotle Azad, teacher Bruce Chan, Lyle Gustafson, Joe Wong, Kent Wong, Kelvin Chan

Kent totally enjoyed his formative years at Vic High, recalling teacher Lawrence Owen’s piano music and Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” echoing through the Vic High hallways from the auditorium. Kent is also pretty good on his feet, forming the Kamloops Dance Club and teaching ballroom dancing over the years. In fact, his first girlfriend at Vic High was his square dance partner Donna Pollard. He also enjoyed camping on Saltspring Island with the Outdoor Club and biology teacher Barry Camp. Kent also remembers seeing Chilliwack perform in the gym, and being allowed to write exams even though he hadn’t had much class time due to all his photography work at school.

During Kent’s first year at the University of Victoria, former teacher Bruce gave Kent a tip about a wedding photo job – he thinks he charged $90 for the shoot – and it was his introduction to photography as a career. Because he had to declare his income for tax purposes, Kent formed Kent Wong Photography.

Kent was also a member of the Outdoor Club. Looks like he was the only guy in the club!

After leaving Vic High in 1971, Kent graduated from UVic with a Bachelor of Science degree in neuropsychology and vertebrate physiology, but not before failing twice to get into medical school.

In 1979, he went to work in Victoria as a data clerk at the provincial Ministry of Environment, pollution control branch and continued his photography. After applying  for and getting the position of Pollution Control Technician, he was posted to Kamloops in 1980, eventually leaving the provincial government to devote his full time to photography. Kent Wong Photography has grown to the point where Kent was voted Kamloops’ best photographer 16 times and was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

In 2012, Kent travelled to Metchosin from Kamloops for a photo session with Vic High teacher and friend, Bruce Chan and wife Darlene and their family, a beautiful thank you from student to teacher for showing him the way.

 

Class of ’75 Reunion Lunch

Class of ’75 Reunion Lunch

Feb. 2023: Well it’s definite. Memories haven’t faded yet! Here’s some Class of 1975 stalwarts singing, you guessed it, Come Give A Cheer!

It’s always lots of laughter, storytelling and shared memories when the Class of 1975 gets together between reunions. Their December 3rd lunch at the Six Mile Pub in Colwood was no exception.

 

Vic High Grad Miss Earth Canada 2023

Vic High Grad Miss Earth Canada 2023

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Layanna Robinson, VHS 2020, was still at Vic High when she won her first pageant, Miss Vancouver Island 2020, and she speaks highly of how accommodating the school was when it came to her eight hour a day ballet training regimen. Accepted into the Victoria Academy of Ballet Professional Training Program at age 11, Layanna says there were six or seven other VAB students also attending Vic High because of its flexibility and willingness to accommodate students’ other studies. “I would attend classes at Vic High until lunchtime,” says Layanna, “and complete my schooling with online courses. I was part of the last class to graduate from Vic High before the seismic upgrades.”

Vic High dance teacher Kerry Krich was also an important part of Layanna’s time at Vic High. “She has great energy,” says Layanna. “And she taught us all a lot more than dance. Our physical, mental and emotional health were very important, and I really appreciated the opportunities to showcase my ongoing dance training in various shows and performances.”

Enrolled in Vic High’s French Immersion program, Layanna found other aspects of life at Vic High very motivating. “(Immersion program teacher) Jean Campbell was so professional and approachable, and I was inspired by how students at Vic High give back to the community. I actually learned a valuable life skill in Home Ec, too – how to cook! – though I didn’t realize at the time how valuable it would become.”

While she admits she doesn’t know a lot about Vic High’s history, Layanna says she appreciated displays and information around the school of a historical nature. “There was one spooky story we heard,” she continues, “that the photo of the very first Vic High grad class included one student who was actually dead and her body propped up in the photo! But I’m sure that’s not true.”  She speaks highly of being in the building now being upgraded, adding that the auditorium is beautiful, and she loved the lists of past top (academic and leadership) students in the foyer and the grad class photos on the third floor. “Now I’m on the wall too,” she says.

Vic High Graduation 2022 was definitely a whole different experience, the COVID-19 protocols having been implemented earlier that spring. Principal Aaron Parker and staff went above and beyond to ensure students could participate in the Vic High tradition of signing their names in the attic. “We hadn’t seen our friends in-person since March,” explains Layanna, “so when we came at pre-arranged times to pick up our diplomas and go up into the attic, we were very excited to see each other.”

“There were so many options at Vic High,” she continues, “music, sport, personal expression. Out of all the high schools – Mt. Doug, Reynolds, Oak Bay, etc – Vic High is definitely known for its inclusivity and its acceptance of students’ unique interests and strengths.”

Despite years of dance training and performances, Layanna says her lack of self-confidence was what motivated her to start entering pageants. Her initial pageant platform advocacy for eliminating domestic violence arose from personal experiences, and her pageant experiences were so valuable she began presenting workshops online to educate youth about the early signs of domestic violence and what healthy relationships should look like.

Following her 2020 Miss Vancouver Island title win, she won the Miss Teen Western Provinces title (BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba), and then competed in Florida in 2021 against 50-60 contestants to become Miss Teen North America. November 2022, she competed in Toronto at the ‘Miss’ pageant level, recognized along with the Miss World and Miss Universe pageants as the top three international beauty pageants. She presented a classical ballet performance of the Princess Florine variation from the sleeping Beauty ballet, and was, like all contestants, assessed for her physical fitness and during evening wear and swimsuit competitions. She beat 49 other contestants and now holds the Miss Earth Canada 2023 title and will represent Canada at the Miss Earth 2023 contest in Vietnam.

Layanna no longer dances, and while she still offers her online workshops, she says her role now is to advocate for environmental awareness and social responsibility, and how Canadians can take action on climate change. She is also completing the last course for her Dental Hygiene diploma and may pursue a career in dentistry. Despite all the demands on her time, she believes passionately in giving back and has helped with BC Wildfires fundraising at Whitecaps games, with support for Victoria’s Rainbow Kitchen and Women in Transition, and helped take Easter goody baskets to seniors’ homes.

Congratulations, Layanna, on your commitment and discipline, and on turning the challenges of your life into such generous support and advocacy for others. It’s clear you embody many of the traditions of Vic High as you pursue your dreams and goals.

Vic High Students Collaborate On Emily Carr Tribute

Vic High Students Collaborate On Emily Carr Tribute

by King Lee, VHS 1958

Fairfield-artist Tanya Bub, best known for her work with driftwood and wire, has her paper mache piece, Emily, A Work in Progress, on display in Vic High’s library at the Topaz Campus. “It’s by far my most conceptual piece,” she said of the three figures at a lectern. “It is a momentary glimpse” Tanya said of Emily Carr, who attended Victoria High School for two school years in 1888 and 1889 and has been honoured by the Victoria High School Alumni Association as an Illustrious Alumni.

Tanya, who moved to Victoria 19 years ago from the Washington, D.C. area to be near her mother, said her sculpture looks at how we commemorate historical figures and reflects the politics and culture of the time. “It represents a huge body of work by the (Vic High) students.,” says Tanya. The project, the brainchild of teacher/librarian Wendy Burleson and Tanya, was co-sponsored by the non-profit Vining Street Party Association. She said Laurie Rubins of the VSPA helped her apply for and receive a $3,000 “ideas” grant from the Capital Regional District. Tanya said Wendy’s original idea was to hold a students’ workshop on Emily Carr but COVID-19 wiped out that plan.

The artwork began when Wendy asked students to write about Emily Carr from different perspectives and share it all with Tanya to assimilate before beginning on her paper mache piece. Ironically, Tanya attended what was then Emily Carr School of Fine Arts (now Emily Carr University of Art & Design) in Vancouver from 1989 to 1992. She graduated from McGill University in Montreal with a philosophy degree but had been working with a partner in a computer programming business for about 20 year. However her involvement in the business has declined to about five per cent so that she can devote more time to her art.

She and Wendy want to hold an “Emily Carr Night” in Vic High’s library at the Topaz Campus (former S.J. Willis Junior High School near Hillside Avenue and Blanshard Street), also featuring the work of current Vic High students. Stay tuned!

1920s Autograph Books Seek Connections

1920s Autograph Books Seek Connections

Eva Young graduated from Vic High in 1927 or 1928. Her niece, Shelagh Armour-Godbolt, wrote us about items she found while closing her aunt’s estate.  I have found a number of autograph books, some clearly from her years at Vic High. Some of the 1927 messages suggest they are from students at Sir James Douglas School, others at Victoria High. The three books contain a mix of drawings, verse, jokes, quotes, and Biblical references. Some pages reflect dates later than 1928. After graduating, Eva attended Sprott Shaw Business College and was then employed in Victoria. She subsequently went to England to train as a nurse before returning to Victoria. I would be happy to provide anyone connected with the names below with a copy of their relative’s entry in Eva Young’s autograph books.

Here are the names

1927

Mrs. G.J. Oulette                              Rose Gray                              Jessamine Fryer                              Betty Shute                              Winnifred Robb (SJD)

Lillian Barton                                    Eleanor Anderson                Kathleen Burnett                            Mrs. Rowley                            Gladys Rowley

Dorothy Pears                                    Kathleen Baird                     Gladys Scrivener                             Mary G. Huffman

1928

Velma                                                   Delia Zink                              Rosalie                                              E. Marriott                              Rose Halsey

Doreen                                                 Grace Keefe                            Mrs. S. E. Keefe                              Inez Penzer                             Joyce Marriott

Georgina Watt

Undated

Genevieve Liddle                                Annie Horocholin, Victoria High School                                  Ruth Whiting                           Kathleen Ellis

“Oley”                                                    Elizabeth Campbell

 

You can contact Shelagh at shelaghag@shaw.ca.

 

Seismic Upgrade November 2022

Seismic Upgrade   November 2022

Work is progressing at Vic High, and while rooms and spaces are now clearly defined inside, changes to the facade are now taking shape. November 3, on-site Project Manager Gord Wallace led three Alumni volunteers on a tour: Board Chair Helen Edwards, Archives and Museum Co-ordinator  Annie Boldt, and Communications Co-ordinator/Archives volunteer Linda Baker.

West facade with new heritage windows installed. What a difference!

Replacement terra cotta tiles cover the original brick walls.

East facade awaits its new heritage windows.

Looking towards Fernwood Road from the new student entrance. The Grant Street entrance will remain in use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hallway on left leads to Fairey Tech, and steps in middle lead to new multi-purpose space.

Looking down on multi-purpose room. Tiered steps provide seating for presentations, performances.

Student entry area window into pre-robotics lab.

Balustrade over Grant Street entrance viewed from previous third floor library, now a collaboration space with rooms on either side, original Rhodesian Mahogany flooring remains intact here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entering new Learning Commons (library) – this area faces north.

Moving into Learning Commons, windows in center face east.

Southeast corner of Learning Commons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entering Outdoor Classroom/Astronomy Deck from NE corner of third floor.

Outdoor Classroom, facing east, overlooking Fernwood Road.

New Archives & Museum, first floor. Front office (part of previous Archives room), looking through to Collections Room.

New Archives & Museum Collections Room. Note original exterior walls, enclosed during 1950s addition of Andrews Gym and classrooms above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project Manager Gord Wallace examines new heritage windows, supplied by Victoria-based, alumni-owned Vintage Woodworks.

Original millwork storage with glass-fronted doors. Six of these (most painted white) were carefully removed, to be re-installed in the Archives & Museum, the Heritage Classroom (former Rm. 205), and elsewhere in the school.

Repairing brick walls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work continues on the track & field area on the west side.

Stadium seating will be replaced and the area refurbished.

Plaque adjacent to south end of bleachers remains in place. “This track presented by Gyro Club of Victoria, June 2, 1951.

UK Plaster Restoration Specialist Loves Vic High

UK Plaster Restoration Specialist Loves Vic High

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Andy Maguire brought his family to Canada 13 years ago for a better life. And thankfully for Vic High and for us, he brought his 35 years’ experience restoring plaster work with him. We met him one Saturday as he and apprentice plasterer son Declan were leaving the Vic High seismic upgrade jobsite for the day. A friendly request from us, ‘Take good care of our school, won’t you?’, turned into an invitation from him to see his work and learn how it’s done.

Andy’s company, Get Plastered, has four people working on the Vic High project. He and his son concentrate on the moulding and baseboard restoration, while two other crew members work on walls. All exterior brick walls must be plastered on the insides, providing superior insulation over framing, insulation and drywall. In many areas, existing plaster in good condition was left in place and new plaster fills in the gaps.

Plaster baseboards to be restored in 2nd floor heritage hallway.

A few brick interior walls will also be plastered, each area getting three coats of sand cement and lime. Annie Boldt, Vic High Archives and Museum manager could hardly believe the soft, smooth feel of the finish coat. Although Andy adds, “We always leave a few imperfections here and there, to remind people it’s hand done.” Plaster baseboards will be restored in some areas as well.

“So far, we’ve completed about 600 square meters of plaster walls,” explains Andy, “and used about 700 bags of a plaster of paris with fibreglass additive for strength. Originally it would have had horsehair in it.

Andy’s love of historical buildings and plaster restoration began at age 15. “I left school,” says Andy, “and began an apprenticeship with my future wife’s father, a plaster restoration specialist in East London. Eventually I was working on my own, doing restoration of plaster work at many London locations, like Canada House, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci buildings.” Andy works on residences as well, and as you might imagine, he’s definitely a history buff and loves restoring old things.

“My wife is a nurse,” he goes on, “so she got us qualified to immigrate here. We absolutely love it in Canada and we’ve all become Canadian citizens. Once we got settled, I started getting my name out there and have been working on numerous restoration projects since, mainly in Victoria.” The list includes Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria City Hall, and South Park School, the latter a three-week project restoring all the exterior moulding. “I’m the only plaster restoration specialist on Vancouver Island,” says Andy. And he’s very proud his middle son, Declan, is following in his footsteps, the third-generation plaster restoration specialist in the family.

But Vic High has definitely captured his heart, and his pride in making the old new again and leaving his mark on such an iconic building is very evident. “Everything is hand done,” says Andy, “so you really put your heart and soul into your work and leave a little of yourself behind when you’re done.”

Original (green) moulding uncovered during demolition.

The most complex plaster work at Vic High is the replication of ceiling moulding in the south hallway – to be known as the ‘heritage hallway’ – on the second floor. Removal of false ceilings during the demolition revealed original egg-and-dart moulding which Andy and Declan are replicating.

“We start with a piece of the existing moulding,” says Andy, “and create a template of the exact shape of it. Then use that template to run along a freshly-poured piece of plaster to leave the profile of the moulding. Then we make a blue rubber mould of that shape and use that to create the finished moulding.”

The finished moulding has a piece of wood lath embedded along the back, and burlap layered into the poured plaster to give it strength. “Mouldings like this used to have horsehair embedded in them,” says Andy, “but today we use strips of burlap. These mouldings will last hundreds of years.” The moulding is installed three ways: wired to the wall framing, glued, and screwed in place.

“We make the moulds of rubber,” says Andy, “because it will stretch a little and ensure we get an egg in each corner.”

           

 

“This is an incredible building,” says Andy. “The original workmanship here was such a high quality – everything level and straight. It’s hard to find that kind of workmanship today.”

Andy and his crew started work at Vic High in March 2022 and will likely be on site till the end of the project.  “This building has a really good vibe,” says Andy. “There’s no bad energy anywhere, which is unique in a building this old. And I”ve never met so many nice people on a job. Everyone helps each other, it’s a really good jobsite vibe. You don’t always get that on a jobsite.”

We love that Andy and Declan have come to love Vic High the way we all do. And we’re already looking forward to those tours once Vic High reopens, and the huge smiles on their faces as they show off their handiwork. You’ll always be a part of Vic High, you two. And always welcome anytime.

See more of Andy’s work here.   Sites.google.com/view/andymaguire

VHS 1967 Track Meet

VHS 1967  Track Meet

Update: Some mysteries solved!  Thanks to all who emailed with names and information.

Kathleen (Couch) Oliver, VHS 1962: In the photo of two track athletes, #25 is my brother, Richard Couch. He participated in and enjoyed many sports at school. Rick’s career was as a Victoria firefighter and he retired as Chief of the Victoria Fire Department. He passed away in 2018. It was nice to see a picture of him from his younger days.

Don Ross, VHS 1967: The teacher sitting on the grass with the two students is Mr. Kirby our grade 12 (1967) biology teacher.

Maureen (Chan) English, VHS 1967: I’m in the photo with Mr. Lorimer. I was Mo Chan in those days. I had just won the female track aggregate trophy. Beside me was Dave Close. We were both in House 1. As you can see it was a cold and blustery day. Scroll down to the table where staff were compiling results. They were all bundled up too.  

Ted Friend, VHS 1967: The male trophy winner in the Track picture with Mr. Lorimer is my best friend David Close.

Derek Reimer, VHS 1965: You asked for photo identification for the 1967 track meet photos. The officials desk seems to mostly teachers. Marg Seens is the woman in sunglasses. To her left is Tommy Mayne and at the extreme left of the photo is Don Smyth.  Derek Reimer, VHS 1965

Bill Chapman, VHS 1968: I don’t know who is in any of the pictures but I bet I know who the photographer was. It was Gordon Tilley who spent a lot of time in 1967 with the school’s Pentax SLR at VH sporting events, activities, and in the darkroom next to Mr.  St Clair’s classroom. Also I was proud to do the same in 1968 and learned a lot about photography from Mr. Sinclair, many thanks to him. It was great seeing my photos used in the Camosun.

Don Ross, VHS 1967:  In the photo of three people on the grass, the one in the middle is Mr. Kirby, the Grade 12 (in 1967) Biology teacher. 

It looks like a chilly day for a track meet! If you were at Vic High in 1967, maybe you remember the day? Or someone in these photos? We recognize Principal Duncan Lorimer, that’s certain. Who else can you name for us?  Email us. Choose General Inquiries or Communications from the drop-down menu. Thanks!

Anna, VHS 1957 Vic High’s Top Banana

Anna, VHS 1957   Vic High’s Top Banana

by King Lee, VHS 1958

Anna Banana’s answer to the first question for this interview confirmed her right away as a free spirit. Asked about her education and how she got to Vic High, she replied, “I mostly walked from my home on Cambridge Street.” Despite a lengthy career in visual and performing art and many exhibits of her work, including at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, this free-spirited Vic High alumna delights in never taking her art too seriously.

Anna Frankham attended Sir James Douglas Elementary, Central Junior High, then Vic High for grades 10 to 12, graduating in 1957. She was a Vic High majorette and took part in track and field before working in Eaton’s advertising for a year. She then married David Long, a Vic High alumnus four years her senior who she described as an ‘art star’, before earning her teaching degree at the University of British Columbia. She taught in elementary schools in Vancouver for five years.

Anna says she had excellent art teachers at school, Bill West at Central and Mrs. Cameron at Vic High. Among her school friends were Carole Sabiston, a world-renowned, award-winning Victoria textile artist, and Donna (Cranton) Jones, another accomplished artist (and former Director of the Vic High Alumni).

 

In 1971, living back in Victoria, she began a career as a fabric artist. But unhappy with the marketing of her work, she declared herself the Town Fool of Victoria, making public appearances in a rainbow suit, her first one at Bastion Square. Prior to that, Anna had been performing and introducing students at various elementary schools to various art practices. South Park students were the most receptive, she remembers. She also gave art classes at seniors’ centers and shopping malls, always introducing herself as Victoria’s Town Fool, and launched the Banana Rag newsletter to reach a larger audience.

 

“That’s how it all started,” Anna said. “I changed my name legally [to Anna Banana] and continued to “fool around” in creative ways and settings, the objective ALWAYS being to engage the public in some creative activity besides shopping!”

 

Anna’s long and varied career of performance art, writing, and small press publishing has included many unique events and initiatives. For example, she launched the Banana Olympics in San Francisco, published VILE magazine and its wide range of art mediums, and promoted international mail art through her Artistamp News and eventual local and international exhibits.

 

One of Anna’s unique exhibits was mounted in 2015 at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, a coming-home, full-circle moment steps away from the three schools she attended.  Anna Banana: 45 Years of Fooling Around with A. Banana was a collaboration between the AGGV and Open Space and included work from her accomplished career. Due to popular demand the exhibit was extended by four months, perhaps proving Anna’s belief that art should be fun and engaging.

“I think many artists take themselves and their ‘craft’ a little too seriously,” says Anna, “while I believe creative work is valuable for itself.” She said the effort, concentration and time invested is therapeutic, fun, and stimulating for those who participate in her banana fun. “The thing I emphasize most about my work is that it’s a way of engaging the public in some creative/artistic activity which, left to their own devices, many people never exercise.  I see my work as part performance, part teaching to engage participants in an art practice.”

We’ve barely scratched the surface of Anna Banana’s extraordinary life. For more information, here are some links:

 

VHS 1975 – 1977 Were You There?

VHS 1975 – 1977 Were You There?

School photographer Terry Gilbert Morris was…and he’s kindly donated these photos to the Vic High Archives & Museum. Terry also worked on the Camosun in Writing 11A Class, and developed all these photos in his home darkroom. Do you recognize anyone? Let us know and we’ll add their names to the Archives’ files. Thanks, Terry!

Vic High September 1975 – June 1977

 

Vic High Astronomy Program Gets A Boost

Vic High Astronomy Program Gets A Boost

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Sarah Atkinson, VHS 2005, speaks well of her time at Vic High. So her dad, Ken, thought it only fitting that he donate to the Vic High Astronomy program, a telescope he rarely uses.

Retired Vic High physics teacher, Clayton Uyeda, had made a presentation to the local chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada sharing news of the new Astronomy Viewing Deck/Outdoor Classroom taking shape at the school. His passion for the project stems from his love of astronomy, and his experiences putting the Astronomy program and course together. VHS 1955 grad and world-renowned particle physicist Stew Smith made an initial $13k donation to start the program.

Ken’s donation includes a Skywatcher 127 mm Maksutov-Cassegrain Optical Telescope with 1500 mm focal length, a GoTo mount, and four eyepieces. “It’s a beautiful telescope,” says Clayton. “I’m really impressed. Everything is basically brand new and will be great for the Astronomy students’ viewing on the new outdoor deck.”

Vic High is so fortunate to benefit from Clayton’s dedication to seeing students expand their knowledge of astronomy. “Victoria has a unique concentration of astronomy experts,” says Clayton, “professional and amateur. The Plaskett telescope at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich was the second-largest telescope in the world when it was installed. Now we’re getting amazing images from space itself. The Hubble telescope was launched in 1990 and is still in orbit, and the Webb was launched in 2021.”

The James Webb Space Telescope is an infrared observatory orbiting the Sun about 1 million miles from Earth to find the first galaxies that formed in the early universe and to see stars forming planetary systems. It is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency.

Thanks, Clayton, for all you have done and continue to do to support Vic High, and thank you, Ken Atkinson, for this generous donation.

More news coming of another major telescope donation by a Vic High alumna.

And if you remember Sarah Atkinson, her dad tells us she completed her midwifery education at UBC in 2012 and has done several tours in Africa and one in Syria with MSF (Doctors Without Borders). She has completed a Masters degree in Public Health at the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, and now practices as a Registered Midwife in Victoria.

Glenn Parfitt, VHS 1972 Music Impresario and Historian

Glenn Parfitt, VHS 1972  Music Impresario and Historian

Glenn proudly showing off his new Vic High Alumni golf shirt and mug.

by King Lee, VHS 1958

Glenn Parfitt followed in the footsteps of his father, Norman, and older brothers, Dewayne and Daryl, coming to Victoria High School for Grades 11 and 12. But he had come from a bit of a ‘dark place’.

If the Parfitt name has a ring of familiarity to it, it was Grandfather Albert, with his siblings, who started Parfitt Brothers Construction in 1908. As a matter of fact, the Cornerstone building at the southeast corner of Fernwood and Gladstone across from Vic High was constructed by the Parfitt firm and originally named the Parfitt building.

Glenn, who turned 68 in September, was born in Victoria and attended Oaklands school (which his family built, although he didn’t find that out until later) from kindergarten to Grade 7 and then went to that ‘dark place’, Oak Bay Junior High, for grades 8 to 10. He finally saw the light and attended Vic High for his final two years from 1970 to 1972. It was within walking distance from the family home in the Denman Street/Richmond Road area.

“I loved the cafeteria,” Glenn laughed, particularly the foot-long hot dogs. He also fondly remembers teachers Tommy Mayne (who he loved) and Terry Tobacco, (PE), a track star from Cumberland who was on the Canadian Olympic teams in 1956 (Melbourne, Australia) and 1960 (Rome, Italy). Terry also won bronze in the 440-yard event in the then-called British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1958 in Cardiff, Wales, and was inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. Glenn also remembers Principal Duncan Lorimer, who was dubbed “Unky Dunky” after volunteering to be a target in the dunk tank of a school fundraiser. Another fond memory was a lunchtime concert on the Vic High grass by the band Sugar Cane.

As a youth, Glenn recalled his involvement with his church youth group and delivering youth sermons, cruising for girls on Douglas Street in his Vic High days, watching a young but eventual world-champion pool shark Cliff Thorburn at a local pool hall, and leaving Vic High to work at the White Spot restaurant at Douglas and Caledonia. But music and marketing had become his passions after his experience during Grade 8 when he stood in the front row of an audience staring at the guitarist of the local band Blues Union.

After working at the White Spot, Goodwill Bottling in James Bay, and in construction as a bricklayer’s helper, Glenn’s career in the music business began in 1977 with a phone call from another Vic High alumnus, Ken Sherwood. Ken asked him to manage a local band called Telstarr, and Glenn started booking dances. “People started hiring me to produce shows,” Glenn said. He vividly remembers one Victoria Firebird Club show at the Quadra Recreation Centre when a riot broke out and spilled outside. Glenn also recalls taking large-denomination bills from the bartenders on an hourly basis during dances, putting them in a paper bag, and handing them through the car window to his parents, who did a drive-by-scooping every hour to pick up the money.

In 1979, Glenn formed a partnership with Ron Wright, Vancouver Island Promotions, and moved to their office in Calgary while Ron took care of things in Victoria. Glenn moved back to Victoria the following year and one of the bands they were booking, Uncle Wiggly’s Hot Shoes Blues Band, eventually recorded a vinyl album (back in the day, before tapes, CDs and memory sticks) on the RCA label. In the ‘80s, Glenn split with Ron and formed Sounds Good Entertainment.

Glenn’s father died in 1990 and having built up a load of business connections by that time, he began a successful career as an ad salesman, starting at the “Q” radio station. When the internet exploded onto the scene and became a powerful business tool, Glenn became vice-president of VicNet. He also worked at Paradon Computers as a re-seller of Shaw Hi-Speed Internet, at radio station CJVI, and was involved in the launch of Hot 103 (now JACK FM).

In 2002, Glenn thought to himself, “I’ve got to leave a legacy,” and launched a website the following year outlining the history of Victoria music from the 1950s to 1980.

         

Glenn suffered major health issues starting in 2018, when he had a stroke and lost his sight in one eye. The following year, he had triple bypass surgery and in 2020, he received his third pacemaker. His health improved and he expanded the website to include popular music from the entire B.C. west coast, from the 1800s up to 1999. “That’s what helped bring me back my health,” said Glenn.

The original name for the website was Purple City Music Project but he eventually changed it to Royal City Music Project. (No, the RCMP did not come with guns drawn). It now contains approximately 85,000 images, audio, and video files, and draws tens of thousands of visitors daily.  A memorable walk down memory lane, his website is availably anytime at www.rcmusicproject.com or www.rcmusicproject.ca.

Glenn and Barbara were married in 1988, and he has two daughters and a son.

All images courtesy of Glenn Parfitt and the Royal City Music Project website. 

Class of 1972 50th Reunion

Class of 1972  50th Reunion  September 23-24, 2022

It wasn’t hard to tell this room was full of Vic High alumni! Smiles, hugs, storytelling, reminiscing, and this was just the first night of the reunion! The Meet & Greet went off without a hitch, and the dinner/dance at the PO & Officers’ Mess at Naden was even more fun. (Click here for those photos, and the ones below.) Alumni came from England, Greece, Australia, New York, Washington state, as well as all the ‘usual suspects’ from Victoria and BC. And there might have been one ‘come from away’, but for a certain hurricane making travel impossible. (Ah, but they were there in spirit, surely.)  Oh, and in case you’re wondering, that Class of 1969 interloper in the fuschia hair is Linda Baker, volunteer with the Vic High Alumni, who came to meet everyone, AND to join Mary Anne Skill, VHS 1975, in showing off the Alumni’s new Vic High merchandise (also available in this website’s Alumni Store).

 

 

Class of 1962 60th Reunion

Class of 1962  60th Reunion

Smiles and hugs and sunshine all around. It was a wonderful reunion for the Class of 1962, September 22, 2022 at UVic’s SUB. Surprise – one alumnus and his wife were there all the way from England. Now that’s Vic High spirit!

 

 

Seismic Upgrade – September 2022

Seismic Upgrade – September 2022

Here’s a few photos taken September 17, 2022 of the Vic HIgh construction site. She’s coming along!

 

Music! Maestro! Please!

Timothy Vernon, VHS 1963      Music! Maestro! Please!

by King Lee, VHS 1959

When Timothy Vernon graduated from Victoria High School in 1963, music wasn’t even in his top two career preferences. “I had a grand time,” Timothy said of Vic High, where his father, Ken, taught history and geography. “There was a good spirit in the place.” He participated in many after-school activities; Calamity Players, drama club, choir and orchestra (piano). And he had high praise for all the teachers who volunteered their time running extra-curricular activities. “These people did it because they loved it.” Timothy remembered Tommy Mayne fondly from the Calamity Players. “Like my father, he was given to terrible puns.”

Timothy’s love of music had come early in life. “My family said I sang before I spoke.” But other interests had also captured his attention at school. “I really didn’t do a lot with the orchestra.” His Vic High friends included Bob McMaster, Robin Skelton, Jennifer South and Gail Wall, who he described as a “wonderful musician” who went on to be a cellist with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. As for career choices, Timothy was thinking more along the lines of theatre or writing. Luckily for the music world, though, Timothy met one of the world’s most respected teachers of orchestra conducting in Victoria.

German-born Otto Werner Mueller happened to be in Victoria, where he was the founding-director of the Victoria School (now Conservatory) of Music in 1963 and  the conductor of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra from 1963 to 1967. He died in 2016. Timothy became Otto’s first student at the Victoria School of Music and it eventually led to Timothy moving to Vienna and studying at the Vienna Academy of Music from 1965 to 1972 and graduating with honours. He did graduate studies from 1973 to 1975 in Vienna, where he accepted his first engagement as a conductor. Then he returned to Canada in 1975 to be the Conductor and Music Director of the Regina Symphony Orchestra, until a phone call from opera-lover George Heffelfinger lured Timothy back to Victoria.

In 1979, Timothy and George became founding members of Pacific Opera Victoria, Timothy taking on the role of Artistic Director which he performs to this day. Pacific Opera Victoria has become one of the most influential professional opera companies in Canada. Timothy also has great memories of being Artistic Director for the Courtenay Youth Music Centre for many years. Now the Comox Valley Youth Music Centre, students from around the world come to BC to study with an international faculty and to perform in orchestra, chamber music, opera, music theatre and jazz. In 1986, Timothy became a full-time professor in the Faculty of Music at McGill University in Montreal

Along the way, Timothy has picked up a few trinkets and robes, including Opera Canada’s Rubies Award in 2005 for Opera Building, the 2012 Diamond Jubilee Medal honouring the 60 year reign of Queen Elizabeth II, and honorary degrees from Royal Roads University, 2013, and the University of Victoria, 2017. In 2008 he was invested into the Order of Canada, one of our country’s highest honours, in recognition of his work expanding opera in Canada and his commitment to young musicians. He joins many well-known Canadians invested into the Order for their outstanding merit and distinguished service to Canada, such as writers Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje, signer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan, and in 2017 then Prince Charles, now King Charles III.

As a guest conductor, Timothy has appeared with every Canadian professional opera company and orchestra in Canada. He leaves his position as Artistic Director of Pacific Opera of Victoria at the end of the 2022-23 season, after conducting Bizet’s Carmen’, Braunfel’s The Birds, and Mozart’s Così fan tutti. www.pacificopera.ca

Be sure to read classmate Nancy (Johnston) Hunter’s memories of Tim’s days at Vic High, and of her experience ‘guest conducting’ in Vienna!

Read more here. 

 

Herb Warren, Father of Victoria’s Hanging Baskets

Herb Warren, Father of Victoria’s Hanging Baskets

Reprinted with permission from A Fairfield History, by Ken Roueche, VHS 1963

W.H. (Herb) Warren was the Superintendent of Parks for the City [of Victoria] from 1930 to 1970. Born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1905, Herb attended Sir James Douglas School and then Vic High, where he got his first introduction to what would become his lifelong passion:  “In the 1920s there was a course in agriculture taught by H.E. Hallwright. He operated a Victoria High School garden about an acre in size on Stanley Avenue. This started me off on horticulture.” said Herb. He went on to attend the Agriculture College at Guelph, Ontario. Upon graduation in 1929 he immediately went to work for the City of Victoria Parks Department and the next year was appointed Superintendent.

Sometime in the 1930s he first saw a collection of flowering cherry trees in Volunteer Park in Seattle. He immediately began to test and plant the trees in Victoria, keeping detailed records on the performance of each variety. His published research papers were the first studies of boulevard planting in North America. He was always looking for new ways to beautify the city. In 1937 he introduced the hanging flower baskets, developing a formulation that is still used to this day.

After his retirement he worked as a consultant for Butchart Gardens, published “Historic Trees of Victoria”, and continued as an active member of many horticultural clubs. In 1984, at age seventy-nine, Herb was on a small commuter plane that crashed on Saturna Island. He quickly assisted with the evacuation of passengers before the plane blew up and then guided everyone to safety with the aid of his pocket compass. Herb is remembered for beautiful gardens and trees and Warren Island in the centre of Goodacre Lake in Beacon Hill Park.

Note: And of course, Herb is also famous for being the father of Arthur Warren, VHS 1967 (read about him here) and John Warren, VHS 1966 (read about him here). Another great Vic High family.

 

A Fairfield History is available in Victoria at Books & Shenanigans, Fairfield Village, Hart Pharmacy, Fairfield Plaza, Sorenson Books, View St.

About Ken Roueche, VHS 1963

Ken worked as an economist in the private and public sectors. And despite being a self-proclaimed ‘horrible English student’ at Vic High, his 25 years preparing briefing notes persuaded him he could write snapshot histories of people and places in Fairfield. These he eventually gathered into ‘A History of Fairfield’,  which he published in 2005 and which I highly recommend. Having grown up in Fairfield, as many Vic High students did, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about people and places I recognized and I learned a lot. I even found out who built the house I grew up in at Linden and Faithful!  Linda Baker, VHS 1969

 

We’ve Got the T-E-A-M

We’ve Got the T-E-A-M, That’s On the B-E-A-M

We’ve got the team that’s on the beam, we’ve got the hep to do the jive. Come on Vic High, skin ’em alive!

Who remembers that cheer at Vic High games? Back before cheerleading became high-level gymnastics, there were Cheerleaders leading the crowd, and at one time, Majorettes performing routines. Here’s some photos we found in the Archives. Email us if you know the year of any of these. And here’s a cheer sheet from the 1959 cheerleaders.  Of course, if anybody knew the school song, it was the cheerleaders!

 

 

Sharron Higgins, Vic High’s Daycare Advocate

Sharron Higgins, Vic High’s Daycare Advocate

by King Lee, VHS 1959

Between 1995 and 2010, Victoria High students with infants could access free day care on school grounds. Sharron Higgins was the driving force behind this program with major assistance from then-Principal Keith McCallion and counsellor Wendy Neumann. “I always thought education and health could work more closely,” said Sharron, a school nurse at Vic High at the time. “I felt it was my mission to work with educators.”

With financial and administrative help from the Cridge Centre for the Family (established in 1873), the provincial ministries of Social Services, Women’s Equality and Education, the Greater Victoria School District (#61) and Capital Regional District Health, the 10-crib day care facility was up and running in 1995 in joined portables in the area where Fairey Tech now stands. Quilts were donated by the Quilters Guild of Victoria. The Vic High daycare facility was named Higgins House to honour Sharron’s visionary leadership and work in developing the program.

Sharron, who retired in 2000 after 20 years as a school nurse (the last seven at Vic High), said ground-breaking ceremonies were held on June 22, 1994 and the official opening ceremonies were held Feb. 1, 1995. She recalled discussions started in June of 1992 when students confirmed that there was a need for day care at the school.

It was not the first school day care program in Greater Victoria, Sharron said. Belmont High School had a successful program up and running and served as a model for Sharron and her Vic High health committee. With no day care in the Fernwood area near Vic High, Sharron, Keith and Wendy began discussing solutions.

“We had a number of girls who were dropping out (of Vic High) because of pregnancy,” said Keith. “This led to them not graduating.” The three decided that an on-site daycare was the best solution for mother-students to attend class and care for their infants and toddlers at the same time.

Denis Harrigan, who followed Keith in the principal’s office, remembers that he loved to visit the infants and toddlers as a soon-to-be-grandfather practise. “As the program became successful in the late ‘90s, it also expanded and we accepted additional students and (their) infants from across the district,” Denis said. “Then the number of pregnancies decreased {I guess our Family Life program was working!).” Denis said the Cridge Centre for the Family eventually took over the service and accepted students’ infants and toddlers from any educational program, including University of Victoria and Camosun College.

Donna Jones of the Victoria High School Alumni Association and Vic High Class of 1957 , was a School District 61 trustee on the school board when the Vic High day care was evolving. She said it was common ground that there was a need. “People thought it was necessary to give the girls a hands-up,” she said.

In Higgins House’s admission policy, students wishing to use the holistic-approach day care service were required to attend a minimum of four hours of class each school day and “account for” at least 80 per cent school attendance.

Although Sharron did not attend Vic High, her late husband, Glendon, and eight others in her family are Vic High alumni. Her mother, Lauretta Holdridge, was one of the first female principals in Greater Victoria when she was appointed to the position at Braefoot Elementary.

Sharron has been a loyal supporter of the Vic High Alumni, particularly the Vic High Archives & Museum where the original Higgins House Daycare sign now lives.

Vic High Alumni are Everywhere

Vic High Alumni are Everywhere

By Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Dallas Road was great today, walking along that section on Ross Bay between Clover Point and the ‘bone orchard’.  That’s what we called Ross Bay Cemetery back in my day. Blue sky, perfect ocean breeze,  freighters in the distance, the Olympic Mountains on full display. It doesn’t get much better. Getting back into my little 25 year old roadster, a young guy two spots over in a grey Mustang asks me about my car. Half an hour later we were car buddies, ex-Lower Mainland buddies, and Vic High buddies.

I love it when a conversation starts like that. A question, a friendly smile, and the next thing you know you’re just chattering away. I learned a lot from him. For starters, he’s a red seal mechanic in town and had some good advice about where to take my car for servicing. Various members of my family are car nuts, including my husband and son. So when he told me his Mustang had a Shelby-designed engine, the name actually meant something to me. And we had cars in common.

It turns out we’d both lived on the BC mainland, and we both agreed it was great to be back living in Victoria. Another experience in common.

I told him I’d grown up nearby, just a few blocks away. ‘I grew up in Fernwood,’ he replied. Aha! “Fernwood?” says I, wondering if he’d gone to Vic High, too. “So did you go to Vic High?” “Sure did,” he says. “I lived on Vining Street. It definitely didn’t take me long to get to school.” Bingo. Even more in common.

His interest in cars started in the shops at Central Middle School. Then it was on to Fairey Tech at Vic High. “Auto mechanics, autobody, woodworking, gym – all my favourite subjects,” he says. “Vic High is a great school. There’s just something about it.”

And so it went. Memories and laughs with another member of the Vic High tribe. I was probably old enough to be his grandmother, but our Vic High connection made short work of our age difference. I’d love to meet him again. He did tell me where he works. Maybe one day I’ll drop in, see if he’s there, just tell him how great it was to meet him, tell him I wrote this little story about meeting him. Will that be weird? I hope so. In a good way.

Thanks, Antonio, Vic High Class of 2018. You are the welcoming, accepting spirit of Vic High, and you totally made my day!

PS  I found his Grade 11 photo in the 2017 Camosun.

2022 Vic High Graduation Honouring Resilience

2022 Vic High Graduation     Honouring Resilience

Finally, Vic High grads were able to share their special ceremony with friends, family, teachers and staff in person.  June 2, the UVic Farquhar Auditorium was once again the scene of joy, pride, and excitement as 161 Vic High grads crossed the stage and were honoured for their hard work a goals achieved. Recently retired after 20 years teaching English and Creative Writing, much-loved Vic High teacher and Metis elder Jan Picard was the evening’s guest speaker. Opening comments and the singing of O Canada were shared in French and English (Vic High is a French Immersion school), and graduating music students delivered a Vic High grad tradition, accompanying all students singing Bob Dylan’s, “Forever Young.”

Teacher Sara Reside was there:  It was so comforting to move back to UVic and a traditional graduation ceremony. We incorporated a few things that we’ve learned from these past two years and were able to celebrate our grads in Vic High style. Our valedictorians really well represented the diversity, heart, and resiliency of this grad class. And Mr. Parker’s speech spoke to the uniqueness of this group and made us all emotional. I stood backstage as the students prepared to cross the stage and had a close-up view of the anticipation, excitement, and joy of these grads. It was an emotional night for sure.

 

Valedictorians Nadine Gomez and Ahmad Abousaleh address their classmates, and the audience of family, friends and teachers at UVic’s Farquhar Auditorium.

Principal’s Speech Inspires Students, Staff, Grad Audience, and Alumni

Vic High students over the years have been blessed with some inspiring principals, none perhaps more so than Aaron Parker, current Vic High Principal. Teenage-hood can be daunting enough without a make-do school and a pandemic shifting your world on a moment’s notice. Wise, empathetic leadership may set a tone. But Mr. Parker is the first to credit the team he leads, and to credit all the students who motivate him daily and perhaps lead him in many ways. We’re proud to share his speech to the Vic High Graduating Class of 2022 at their June 2 ceremony.

I remember that May day in 2018 when I first met this class on the front lawn of our iconic Fernwood building. While many were shy and reserved, the group as a whole was …energetic.  I likely would not have predicted that students like Wes and Lucas would turn that energy into honour rolls, championships and general school leadership. Turns out most of my predictions turned out to be wrong.  I would love to go back to that afternoon to say “For those of you who are really worried about the next four year – think bigger.”

When I recall that day I wonder what those young versions of the fine people you see behind me thought as they entered high school. I can imagine Owen going home about two feet shorter back then – “Mom, the shop classes are on the other side of the school – somewhat notable as his English class is currently two city buses from the Autobody class.

I can imagine kids coming home in grade 9 complaining that some of the projects are confusing– two years later they are still trying to figure out where to find 700 paperclips and a hair straightener to do their online art metal project. And do you remember when you thought 74 minutes was a really long time for one class.  Those problems were so cute.

Let’s face it: the last four years have changed our expectations. During that time these young people have changed buildings, and changed instruction delivery methods and health protocols multiple times.  They have lost out on academic, athletic, artistic, cultural and social activities.  No one could have predicted in May of 2018 that those energetic grade 9 students would graduate knowing what their favorite hand sanitizer brand is and which face covering is the best on a cold day.

We have all been impacted by Covid. As someone whose livelihood, health and social connections were never seriously threatened, even I have felt the weight of living in these unnerving and uncertain times.

I share with you that outside of my family the individuals that have kept me buoyed through the pandemic sit behind me today.

The Sr Boys basketball team proved that you don’t have to win the championship to be champions.  Every opponent and observer that spoke with us commented on their relentless, never -give-up attitude.  I saw that first hand.  Even before we knew if there would even be a season, Cam had the team lined up at 7 am any time they were allowed gym access.  His leadership along with grads Karl, Lucas, Lambert, Rainer and Linial took the Sr boys basketball team to our best showing in over 30 years.

Performers like Tamsyn, Silas, Calla, Matisse, Ben, Leah, Cian, Olivia and more, dazzled in those precious opportunities in which they were permitted access to a stage.

Ayan, Ahmed and Madison were recently recognized as some of Vic High’s most accomplished scholars despite the many disruptions they endured throughout their most important academic years.

Our front step philosophers amused and entertained.  Fynn, Malcolm, and Callum doubled as Vic High’s unofficial band. Only Vic High could feature impromptu guitar, flute and didgeridoo performances – depending on the day.

But for me the most important gift this group has provided is that of perspective.

Sometime after the 2019 announcement that these students would spend grade 11 and 12 at some old school called SJ Willis, but before the 2020 spring break that transformed every aspect of their school experience, we had a very serious life and death situation.

2022 grad Al Baraa and two of his friends, came across a young man in need of immediate medical assistance. Due to their fast action our staff was able to administer the medical intervention that stabilized the youth and saved his life. I will never forget two things from that day.  The young man’s face devoid of all life as he lay on the washroom tile floor.  And the conversation I had with Al Baraa after the incident. I congratulated the boys on their fast action and let them know that I needed to contact their parents.  Al Baraa,do you remember what you said that day – I do.

You said “Mr Parker you don’t need to contact our parents. In Syria death is not new to us.”  Later when Vic PD were looking to recognize the boys for their heroism, they were completely confused.  In their eyes there was nothing to recognize “Someone needed help so they found help.”  Simple as that.

I have no idea where they get it from.  Something about this generation, the resilience of youth or the magic that is Vic High, but these young people are the example that I wish the rest of the world would follow.  Someone needs help – you do what you can to help.  Simple as that.

From my observations, being charitable and tolerant in the face of adversity is not that simple for most.  We have seen our share of defensiveness and divisiveness.  Masks, vaccinations, quarter system.  Let’s not deny it now – I kept the emails – adults haven’t always coped as well as this group.

The group behind me is politically knowledgeable and active.  Students like Talia and Pita could teach me about our world’s environmental and political conditions.  And despite the wide variety of opinions and strongly held beliefs of the fine young people behind me – when they were told that some people in the school feel safer when we all wear masks – they all wore masks.

I’m proud of this group. And I am delighted that they are being celebrated today.  I would like to thank them for their grace in the face of adversity and ask their help one last time.  Mikey, would you come down here?  I would like you to help me lead your fellow 2022 graduates in the singing of the Vic High song – Come Give A Cheer.

Can You Hear All the Clapping?

Some of our Alumni volunteers were very touched by Aaron’s speech. Send us your reaction and we’ll add it here. (Click here and choose Communications from the drop-down menu.)

Wow what a truly uplifting speech.  Thank you Aaron.  Thank you to all staff for the tremendous job you do each and every day. Ruth Ferne, VHS 1966

Incredible speech, incredible Principal, incredible leader.  Linda Reid, VHS 1977

Wow…what an incredible speech!!! Kudos to Aaron and all those who participated! Come give a cheer❤️ JoAnne Botten, VHS 1968

Aaron is an outstanding principal. Keith McCallion, former Vic High Principal

I’m in tears after reading that. What a great principal he is. Helen Edwards, VHS 1964

KUDOS👏👏👏👏👏👏👏. True spirit of Vic High.  Ed Kozicki, VHS 1969

So nice to have a down to earth speech.  Dawn Quast, VHS 1965

No wonder Vic High is so fabulous! Aaron and staff do so much to make it so – even through Covid and transition to temporary school. Thank you all and congrats to all the grads! Anne McKeachie, VHS 1968

Wonderful, inspirational speech by Principal Aaron. So glad to hear that the students still know the words to COME GIVE A CHEER! I kind of thought that may have faded over the years but apparently NOT! Annie Boldt, VHS 1967

Loved the speech, specially as the Class of 1974 graduated  48 years ago today.  Aaron is great. Students are so lucky to have him. Lori Ann Locken, VHS 1974

Aaron is simply an amazing man. We are all so fortunate to have him leading Vic High. Amazing, inspirational speech. Roger Skillings, VHS 1968

Just a great speech. Truly a great teacher who cares! I am sure that we all remember a teacher from our years in school that inspired us and made us the people we are today. Another incidence of the special times that happen at Vic High no matter where it resides temporarily.  A most memorable grad ceremony for the class of 2022. Nita Loudon, VHS 1966

Vic High Hairdressing Program Began On A Napkin

Vic High Hairdressing Classroom, pre-seismic updating from Vic High 2020 photobook.

Vic High Hairdressing Program Began On A Napkin

By King Lee, VHS 1958

Victoria High School’s 15-year-old hairdressing program began on a napkin, teacher Pam Murray recalls. It was during lunch with then-Principal Stephen Bennett that the rough plans for the course were mapped out. Pam was a substitute teacher in Victoria when she decided to apply for the job teaching a hairdressing program at Vic High.

Before the course began in September of 2007, Stephen reached out to the Vancouver school district for hairdressing course information and was rewarded with a curriculum already being used in Lower Mainland schools. Pam also liaised with the Industry Training Authority of British Columbia. The ITABC’s mandate is to work with trades training programs to better understand, communicate and respond to provincial industry needs. Its Sectory Advisory Groups provide advice to advance and improve the trades training system, including strategies to help increase apprenticeship opportunities for youth, women, Indigenous persons and other equity-seeking groups.

So what began as a part-time teaching position turned out to be a full-time job for Pam, with three Grade 11 and four Grade 12 courses at the 20-station classroom. The course includes theory, salon ecology, trichology (study of hair), design, hair colouring, chemical texture, cutting and styling, hair products and the salon business. The practical side also includes the cutting of men’s and women’s hair, colouring, perming and styling techniques.

The apprenticeship course includes 300 hours of work experience as well as in-house Client Days at Vic High. Most clients learn about the opportunity by word of mouth and they are charged only for products used. It is the out-of-classroom experience where students learn the ancillary skills of the job, such as creativity, hands-on learning, friendly demeanour and an out-going personality. Pam knows of two other similar courses in the Greater Victoria area, Sooke school district’s Belmont Senior Secondary School and Saanich school district’s Individual Learning Centre.

“It gives the kids so much confidence,” Pam said of her students’ experience. “What I love is when it changes somebody’s life.” She still remains in contact with many of her graduates working in the city, and those like 2012 grad Jadah Dale who is now working in London.

Gail Archibald, VHS 1959 Vic High’s Windmill

Gail Archibald, VHS 1959     Vic High’s Windmill

By King Lee, VHS 1958

When Gail Archibald was attending Vic High between 1957 and 1959, she probably could have thrown a softball – underhanded – from her Denman Street home to the school. At Vic High, she participated in track (the 220 was her specialty), basketball and grass (now field) hockey. Of course, sports-minded Gail’s favourite subject was P.E. But the eventual B.C. (2019) and Greater Victoria (2011) Sports Hall of Fame inductee decided softball was her sport, thanks to one of her regular Saturday morning visits to the YMCA, then located on the east side of Blanshard Street between Yates and View streets. The activity was softball and, as she wrote in Pat Harrison’s book, “North American Girls of Summer,” she was “hooked.”

Born Dec. 5, 1941, in Craik, Saskatchewan, the family moved to Victoria when Gail was four or five. Her father, George William “Billy” Archibald worked at Sooke Forest Products and Manning Timber Products and they had homes in Langford and James Bay. Gail’s introduction to a softball came when she found one and began throwing it around the woodshed at their Young Street house near Beacon Hill Park. She joined her first softball team, the Polyettes, when she was in her mid-teens. Gail was a power hitter and speedy centrefielder.

In 1960, manager Walter “Wally” Yeamans recruited Gail to play for the Senior A women’s Victoria Vikettes. “My overhand throw wasn’t much, so I started throwing the ball into the infield using a windmill (underhanded) motion,” she wrote in Harrison’s book. “It was fast and right on target.” She added, “I couldn’t throw overhand worth a damn.” Wally noticed this and enlisted the help of Senior A ballplayer Terry Moody, who died earlier this year, to convert Gail into a hall-of-fame pitcher.

“Walter Yeamans was the big key for me,” Gail said. She said Wally was encouraging and paid for most of the expenses of travelling to tournaments and championships. She also remembered Wally’s wife, Charlotte, was always at the ballpark cheering the team on.

In 1966, Gail decided that there wasn’t enough tough competition on Vancouver Island and moved to the Lower Mainland to play in the senior women’s league at South Hill Memorial Park. Gail’s last two teams were the Vancouver Texaco and Eldorado. She returned to Victoria to mentor young pitchers and work on her golf game.

But her career highlights include playing in Canadian and provincial championships, pitching three complete games in one day (more than once), striking out 17 batters in a seven-inning game, pitching for a B.C. all-star team against world-champion Raybestos Brakettes in 1964 and being picked up by a Port Angeles team to play in a tournament in Portland.

“North American Girls of Summer, Stories/Memories submitted by players from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s” ($32 including postage) is available through the author by emailing her at path70@telus.net or by phone at 1-250-752-0543 in Qualicum Beach, BC.

Art Warren, VHS 1967 Vic High’s Easy Rider?

Art Warren, VHS 1967   Vic High’s Easy Rider? 

By King Lee, VHS 1958

Disclaimer: For entertainment, not instructional purposes!

It may be a bit of a stretch to equate Arthur Warren’s 1966 noisy and smoky motorbike ride around the main hallway of Victoria High School to the 1969 movie Easy Rider. Firstly, Arthur rode an 80cc Yamaha trail bike while co-stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper were on a Harley Davidson. And secondly, Arthur did not receive Academy Award nominations for best original screen play and best supporting actor (Jack Nicholson).

As a matter of fact, there doesn’t seem to be any recorded history of the event. It was long before cell phone cameras became de rigueur. Nor does Arthur have a vivid recollection of the incident. He remembers “lugging the thing up the stairs” to the second floor with the help of two or three friends (it weighed about 68-90 kg or 150-200 pounds).

“Not much to tell,” said the 1967 Vic High grad modestly. But he does confirm it happened. The “urban legend” that Arthur rode his bike up and down the school stairwells is not true, he added. “It was before 8 a.m., so not too many people (or) teachers around,” Arthur recalled. “I did one circuit around the main floor. No one stopped (or) confronted me. I remember being a little bit shocked (at) how much noise and smelly smoke I was making.” Arthur said he was never confronted by Principal Duncan Lorimer, staff or students about the incident. “No one ever said anything.” When asked how much thinking went into the caper, Arthur replied, “Not much!”

(1966 alumnus Craig Strickland remembers it differently, or perhaps there has been more than one motorcycle ride around the halls of Vic High? Click here to read what Craig remembers.)

Arthur’s family had a long association with Vic High. His parents and siblings all attended. He said he and his brother, John, were sometimes called the crazy Warren brothers.“I have good memories of Vic High. I really enjoyed it.”

Arthur said he admired the egalitarianism (the doctrine that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities) he saw at Vic High. He was involved in many Vic High activities, band (trombone), philosophy club, United Nations club and Calamity Players.

Arthur, who was a bright student, attended Sir James Douglas elementary and Central Junior High schools before arriving at Vic High, and went on to obtain a teaching degree at the University of Victoria and a masters degree in theological studies from the University of Toronto.

He did some substitute teaching but didn’t like it. In between, he was a logger, commercial fisherman, teacher of transcendental meditation, lumberyard worker (with classmate David Ashton at Victoria Plywood), realtor (for 25 years) and marriage officiant.

In 1997, Arthur and former wife, Sylvie Rochette, founded Epicure.

Note: Arthur’s dad, Herb Warren, also a Vic High alumnus, was Victoria’s Parks Superintendent and the father of Victoria’s famous hanging baskets. Read about him here.

 

 

The Epicure Success Story

It started with spice mixes, jams and jellies in the kitchen of Arthur Warren, VHS 1967, and (then) wife Sylvie Rochette in the mid 1970s, with Sylvie’s desire to create healthy eating solutions for her family. In 1997, after selling products at the Saanichton Fair, it was formally founded to sell healthy, gluten-free, peanut-free food products and promote healthy eating all over North America.

With a  mission to “take back our health and change the course of our next generation’s wellness and relationship with food”, Saanich-based Epicure is now run by Chief Executive Officer Amelia Warren, daughter of 1967 Vic High grad Arthur.  It sells its locally-manufactured products through a network of consultants who also offer cooking classes, recipes, and kitchen tools and cookware.

Vic High alumna Lori Ann Locken, VHS 1974, was so taken with Epicure’s gluten-free products she could tolerate, she became a consultant. “I love how Epicure’s products are also low salt, lower sugar, and no preservatives.”  (You can reach Lori Ann on Facebook – Lori Ann’s Epicure Kitchen.

Epicure’s headquarters is in Saanich, and its U.S. base is in Salt Lake City, U