A Few Shining Stars, Class of ’55

A Few Shining Stars, Class of ’55

by King Lee, VHS 1958

When Victoria High School classes brag during reunions about who became the shining stars of their graduation year, 1955 grads can muscle into the conversation with ease and pride. No less than four grads, Jim Taylor, Dr. Stew Smith, David Anderson and Fenwick Lansdowne, achieved national recognition in their fields of endeavour, two of them internationally.

Jim, who died in 2019, became a full-time sportswriter while in Grade 12 at Vic High. After learning his craft and honing his skills at writing with humour, Jim became a sports columnist at the Vancouver Sun staying for 13 years, and at the Vancouver Province for 17 years. His widely-read columns were eventually syndicated and he was inducted into the Canadian, British Columbia and Greater Victoria sports halls of fame as well as receiving two lifetime achievement awards.

Stew, who won the Governor-General’s award for top Grade 12 student in B.C., became a noted particle physicist and spent five decades on the Princeton physics faculty in New Jersey. He later became chair of the physics department and Dean of Research. Not only that, he was a member of the Mann Cup-winning Vancouver Carlings senior lacrosse team in 1961 and eventually became known as an accomplished gardener.

David was also a multi-faceted achiever, winning silver on the Canadian Olympic rowing team and a federal cabinet minister in four ministries. An early environmentalist, David was a Member of Parliament for Esquimalt-Saanich before becoming Leader of the B.C. Liberal Party. He returned to federal politics and was appointed to four portfolios, National Revenue, Transport, Fisheries and Oceans and Environment. He was also the President of the World Fisheries organization.

Fenwick (known as Fen by his classmates) contracted polio before his first birthday and, despite only being able to paint with his left hand, became an internationally-recognized water colour artist specializing in birds. His paintings were compared with those of James Audubon. Fenwick died in 2008.

 

HOW DOES YOUR YEAR STACK LUP?

 

Reading the story about the Class of ’55, how does your grad year stack up?

Tell us the story about your grad year and who became the accomplished stars!

Stew Smith, VHS 1955, Returns to Vic High

Stew Smith, VHS 1955, Returns to Vic High

L to R: Stew Smith, Norma Smith, Irene Harrison, Keith Yow, King Lee, David Anderson, Keith McCallion, Wendy Simson

In his mid-80s, Stew Smith still regularly flies to Italy, Switzerland and Sudbury, Ontario, from his Princeton, New Jersey home to chair scientific group meetings. But his favourite flight is from Newark Liberty International Airport to his beloved Victoria and Victoria High School.

The Vic High Grad of 1955 and particle physicist who has spent half a century of learning, teaching and researching at Princeton University was finally able to return to his hometown in April this year after a three-year hiatus caused by the COVID virus. He was so happy to be back that he hosted a lunch which included three Vic High grads from 1955, David Anderson, Irene Harrison and himself, one from 1956, Wendy Simson and the “rookie” from 1958, King Lee. Also invited to the Fireside Grill lunch was former Vic High principal, Keith McCallion.

Stew also got in a visit to Vic High, albeit at the school’s temporary Topaz Campus at the old S. J. Willis Junior High School near Hillside Avenue and Blanshard Street while major seismic upgrading and renovations are going on at the Grant Street building. Physics teacher Jonathan Geehan sent current and former Astronomy students to the Vic High Alumni’s recorded interview with Stew, Grade 12 students Madison Levagood, Kieran Slade and Ayan Araleh, and Grade 11 students Aina Saitoh and George Sleen. Having benefitted from Stew’s $13,000 donation that launched Vic High’s Astronomy program, students were keen to hear more about their field of interest and clearly grateful for the opportunities it’s given them.

Stew, a big supporter of the Victoria High School Alumni Association, was obviously pleased to talk to the students and spent the better part of an hour sharing his thoughts and answering questions. Stew also met with Jonathan to discuss ways Stew, who was the top student in the province the year he graduated from Vic High, could assist with classroom needs in the ‘new’ Vic High set to reopen September 2023.

Stew has found a residence in Bend, Oregon, where he has family and is currently in discussions with his wife, Norma, about moving permanently to the West Coast. He said one reason why it is a difficult decision is that it would be much easier for him to fly directly to his meetings from New Jersey’s international airport than to find connecting flights from Seattle or San Francisco.

Then again, the Vic High Alumni and perhaps Physics teacher Jonathan Geehan would be more than happy to have Stew closer to Victoria, particularly if more students could benefit from his inspirational sharing of his knowledge and experiences.

Ken Coley-Donohue, VHS 1975 35 Years Later, A Full-Circle Moment

Ken Coley-Donohue, VHS 1987   35 Years Later, A Full-Circle Moment     

By Linda Baker, VHS 1969

May 2022

Thank heavens young Ken Coley-Donohue stepped up when shop teacher Fred Packford told him he was smart enough to apply for that School District scholarship. Ken had natural talents, but his lack of confidence stalled the recognition and rewards he deserved.

Vic High. 1987. Ken is in Grade 12. School in general had been challenging, his dyslexia getting in the way of learning the way the system taught. But nothing got in the way when it came to using his hands, or developing his skills in the woodworking, drafting, or boatbuilding classes taught by Fred Packford. There he excelled.

When Fred said apply for that scholarship and Ken said he didn’t have the smarts, Fred’s booming teacher voice filled the room: “Never say that! You are smart and you can do anything you put your mind to!” So Ken worked hard, and he applied for and won that District scholarship. He also won the Vic High Technology award for 1987.

“Mr. Packford’s words were a life-defining moment for me,” says Ken.

 

Victoria. 1990. Ken joined Vintage Woodworks Inc, bringing his exceptional joinery and woodworking skills, his knowledge of modern technology, and his business resourcefulness with him. He eventually bought the business and now has 20 employees, a 14,000 square foot shop in Central Saanich, and an award-winning reputation for quality craftsmanship.

Vintage Woodworks specializes in heritage restoration, and in replicating energy efficient custom wood windows, doors and storefronts. They rely on centuries-old mortise and tenon joinery to achieve their high standards, adding state of the art technology to ensure consistent preparation of the elements to be joined. Customers across Canada and in the U.S., particularly many with restoration projects in Vancouver, have worked with Ken and his team to restore and replicate the old to blend with the new in hundreds of heritage restoration projects.

“We source most of our kiln-dried Douglas fir from Vancouver Island,” says Ken, “and our glazing is all inserted by hand. We also make our own counterbalance weights here in our shop.”

Over the years Ken has employed and helped train many skilled workers, the low staff turnover a testament to the positive work environment Ken has helped foster. Numerous staff have been helped to achieve their Joinery Red Seal tickets. Vintage Woodworks has been part of the restoration of thousands of buildings in BC and North America, but Ken’s proudest achievement might be a recent one: winning the contract to restore and replicate the windows at Vic High, currently undergoing the most significant upgrades since it was built in 1914.

Here’s the east (Girls’ Entrance) side of Vic High with windows removed for restoration. Replica Vic High windows are shown framed and painted. The last photo shows a Vic High 3-over-3 window as glazing is installed.

“It was very important to me to win that contract,” says Ken. “It feels like a full-circle moment and reminds me what a difference Fred Packford made in my life, and what a difference so many teachers make in the life of their students.”

 

www.vintagewoodworks.ca

Vic High Icon, Reg Reid Always There With A Smile

Vic High Icon, Reg Reid     Always There With A Smile

By Linda Baker, VHS 1969

A Vic High student and valedictorian, then a Vic High teacher, then a Vic High Vice-Principal. Son, brother and nephew of Vic High alumni, married to a Vic High alumna, brother-in-law of a Vic High alumna, father of two Vic High alumni, uncle to yet another Vic High alumnus.  Reg Reid. Where does one begin.

I met him when he was Vice-Principal at Central Junior High School (1963 – 1967), and I got to work with him on the student council 1966-67. My grandmother, Mrs. Baker, was school secretary then and had great respect for him. In 1967 Reg and I both headed to Vic High where he and Principal Duncan Lorimer were a compassionate, respectful and supportive team. Years later, I was thrilled when Reg and his equally extraordinary wife, Iris, came to my grandmother’s memorial service, bringing their heartfelt hugs and happy memories with them.

2014. My dad (Roy Baker, VHS 1945) and I went to the big open house at Vic High and there in their wheelchairs, beaming broadly, arms outstretched with hugs, were Reg and Iris. As long as there was life in them and someone to drive the van, Reg and Iris would simply never miss a Vic High gathering. It was always ever thus.

1957 – 1963 Reg taught at Vic High, English, History, and Physical Education, and he loved connecting with students. Did he miss that connection when he became Vice-Principal? Maybe. But it’s a good bet his instinct to connect with students led to his tireless support of anything and everything involving Vic High students – sports meets, arts performances, school clubs, even just friendly smiles in the hallways. And it became what defined him: his ability and his willingness to reach out and connect.

Grub Day    1967-68

While Vice-Principal at Vic High, 1967-1977, he was offered the position of Principal at Lansdowne Junior High School. But with his kids about to attend there, (and his heart clearly at Vic High), he turned down the offer. “He also didn’t want to leave his family during the summers to get the Masters in Education principals were supposed to have,” says daughter Linda Reid (VHS 1977). “As soon as his work was done every summer, he and mom packed up the family and we went camping.”

Linda and her sister Janet (VHS 1975) were at Vic High while Reg was Vice-Principal, although few at the time made the connection. “One day a friend from the basketball team and I went to the office for something,” says Linda. “I headed over to go into Dad’s office and my friend was horrified! ‘You can’t do that!’, she said, ‘he’s the Vice-Principal!’ She was pretty surprised to learn that he was also my dad.”

Janet remembers many things about her dad. “He was always quick to compliment the staff, the custodial staff, the grounds staff, on how good Vic High always looked,” she says. “And he was so proud of the students, of the diversity of the student population, of kids from so many different cultures working and playing together.”

Reg was a very skilled public speaker from an early age, so good, in fact, that having dropped his valedictory speech en route to the grad stage in 1943, he gave the entire very inspiring speech from memory. Reg was also a good listener and genuinely interested in people, particularly students. He never forgot a student’s name, or the names of their siblings, even years later. “He really wanted students to have good memories of Vic High,” says Linda.

Reg at the 1977 Grad Ceremony

1977. Reg was drafted to Mt. Douglas High School as Vice-Principal. Tributes poured in. Then there was the Report to Counsellor on Student Reg Reid from teacher ‘Al Stabrice’. (Curiously no such teacher appears in the Camosun that year?) Here’s a quote from the Report: Distracted by extracurricular activities – goes to them all and stays to the bitter end – may lack sleep.  But read the whole thing (here). It’s hilarious.

That dog in the report? April 22, 2022 Guy Lafleur died. Five years to the day after Reg Reid died. Reg loved him – Guy Lafleur the hockey legend, and his namesake – Guy Lafleur the family’s Brittany Spaniel. Reg – and Iris – took Guy Lafleur to many Vic High events, despite him peeing on one occasion on the opposing team’s First Aid kit. Guy LaFleur, not Reg.

The 1977 Camosun supplement was dedicated to “our Vice-principal, Mr. Reg Reid, who is being “drafted” to Mt. Doug this fall. We give him our thanks for ten years of enthusiastic service and wish him much good luck.’ One student had their poem printed in the supplement.

 

 

 

To Mr. Reid:

The knowledge that you’re leaving us is flowing down the halls.

“Oh but he’ll be back”, is quietly whispered by the walls.

The time you’ve spent, it seems so dear.

It’s been a long time that you’ve been here.

A stranger perhaps, and yet you’re a friend.

Strong willed and yet, like the trees you can bend.

A smile you gave me in the halls as we passed.

A small but friendly smile all through the year did last.

For each time that I saw you, a new one took its place.

It seemed to pick me up while in the year long race.

As down the hall you’re walking, “He’s leaving us”, but then;

“He’ll be back again!”

  • a student

But Reg Reid was, and is, Vic High to the very core. His name lives on in the Vic High Alumni’s Reg Reid Leadership Cup & Award, reminding everyone of one man whose Vic High spirit will always be felt and remembered.

1977  Camosun

Here’s a link to some articles and to his obituary. Send us your memories and we’ll share them here.

Who Was Your Favourite Teacher?

Who Was Your Favourite Teacher?

We asked newsletter readers to tell us about their favourite Vic High teacher. It’s simple and yet so extraordinary, the impact just one teacher can have on a student. Life-changing!  Read on. (Some names are linked to obituaries or other info on the website.)

 

Ken Coley-Donohue, VHS 1987           Favourite Teacher – Fred Packford

Mr. Packford

…my woodworking, drafting and boat building instructor 1986-87.  I learned a lot of great skills from him which I still use to this day. The most important thing was to have confidence in myself.  After Drafting class one afternoon he told me I should apply for a district scholarship.  Sure, I was straight A’s in Industrial Arts but my reply was, “I am not smart enough to get one”.  This lack of confidence stemmed from the fact I struggled academically with dyslexia.  I’ll never forget his voice, the one that a teacher uses to wake up a class.  “Never say that, you are smart and you can do anything you put your mind to!”  This was for me a life defining moment.  I worked hard and did get the scholarship as well as the Vic High Technology award for 1987. 

Thirty-five years later I own Vintage Woodworks Inc.  Over the years I have employed many people, been part of the restoration of thousands of buildings in BC and North America and also helped numerous people achieve Joinery Red Seal tickets.  I am proud to say that my company is currently involved in the restoration of the windows at Vic High.

A huge thank you to Fred Packford and all the teachers at Vic High that make a difference in people’s lives.

John Britt, VHS 1960          Favourite TeacherTommy Mayne

Mr. Mayne

I renewed our connection after high school at Langham Court Theatre. He and his wife Betty were friends for many years. I always valued their friendship and mentoring!

Stewart McLeod, VHS 1972 – Tommy Mayne

It is hard to choose. There are so many. Tommy Mayne is one.

Bob Pellow, VHS 1955          Favourite Teacher –  Tommy Mayne

…with a tip of the hat to Miss Roberts, Mrs. Cameron and Mr. Murphy Loved Mrs. Cameron’s 1955 Packard!

Linda Baker, VHS 1969     Favourite Teacher – Mrs. Muriel Fraser

Mrs. Fraser taught Sewing 11 and 12, and Clothes Designing 12. I’d taken all three courses and designed my grad dress ( modeled it in the year-end fashion show). Mrs. Fraser’s standards were high, but she was always supportive and encouraging. I remember her son was an actor, which seemed very grand. She was a very classy lady, and it was her beautiful clothes, beautifully-coiffed hair, and her ultra-cool red sportscar that really impressed me. I can still see her getting in her red top-down Austin Healey (I think that’s what it was?) parked under the memorial trees that used to line the little stretch of Vining Street from the school down to Fernwood. She had a scarf over her bouffant hair-do tied around her neck like in the movies, and away she drove.  Coolest teacher I’d ever seen, and probably part of what inspired me to buy my first roadster, a 1972 MG Midget, at age 21. Although I’m sure I’ll never be as cool as Mrs. Fraser.

 

Bert Weiss, VHS 1964          Favourite Teacher –  Mr. Francis

Mr. Hansen

Mr. Francis

Without a doubt it had to be Mr. Francis for Math 11 in 1963.

Dan Dodge, VHS 1973          Favourite TeacherMr. Hansen

was my favourite teacher in 1972 & 1973. He taught Machine Shop and Power Mechanics over at Fairey Tech. He was very patient and had a wonderful personality. All round great teacher. He was very supportive, gentle spirit (cannot recall him ever raising his voice). I graduated in 1973, spent a lot of my last year over at Fairey Tech doing various projects/assignments under his guidance & teaching.

Robert Darnell, VHS 1954          Favourite Teacher – Gordon Hartley

Mr. Hartley

I first had him in 1946 (just back from WWII) as our gym teacher at North Ward.  Then again at Vic High 1951 – 1954, best English teacher I ever had.  You never fooled around in his class, he made you work hard, but enjoy the studies.

 

 

Donna (Cranton) Jones, VHS 1957          Favourite Teachers – Mrs. Cameron, Miss Roberts, Mrs. Hodson

Because old Central School was being torn down and replaced, half of the grade nines were sent to Vic High in 1954 while the other half stayed in one of the two old buildings for another year. The decision was based on our future education plans, and since I had no university plans the powers-that-be determined that I should be set on a path to office work. Vic High had the Commercial classes. Not an unusual push for girls in those days who weren’t planning on nursing or teaching.

Bad move. Within a month or two I had managed to be assigned to Art classes instead of Home Ec., as well as a great English class.  ( I credit Mrs. Hodson, who taught French but doubled as a counsellor.) I remember my mother saying that she could teach me to cook if I was interested, but couldn’t teach art. Mothers didn’t get very involved with schools in those days so I made my own case. I managed to spend time and learn a great deal with Mrs. Frances Cameron in the fourth floor Art room for four years. She accepted my interests and allowed me some deviation from the rest of the class occasionally. I have often said that I learned more history in her classes, based on the stories she presented in paintings, than anywhere else in school.

            

Miss Roberts                                       Mrs. Hodson                    Mrs. CAmeron

School was a really formative time for me in Miss J. Roberts’ English class. It was easy to see that she loved her subject, from literature to proper grammar. I was always a reader, but learned to appreciate writing in new ways, expanding my vocabulary along the way. Neither of these teachers could be described as warm and fuzzy, but they certainly knew how to teach, and I’ve been grateful for that many times. As it turned out for me, I had a rather hybrid education for the day. I learned to type, had business English courses as well as those marked for university prep, and I managed to have double art classes in my grade 12 year. To top it off I was recommended for two jobs directly after graduation…one in a bank, the other as an artist for the new CHEK-TV. I took the art job…and that’s another story.

My story is an example of the flexibility that I think Vic High has always shown for students.

 

 

Memories

Vic High Tigers 1975, Win BC Championships

We found this on the Class of 1975 Facebook page, posted by Patti (Pesklevits) Buna. More great Vic High memories, specially as 2022 is the Year of the Tiger. Thanks, Patti!

Here’s the caption:   Devastating all opposition during the Championship series, the Vic High Tigers stormed to the B.C. girls high-school basketball championship Saturday night with a 64-28 win over Port Moody Blues in the final game of the 26th annual tournament. Shown during a respite at a recent practice, the Tigers include – Standing: Marg Barber, Barry Hanslip (Coach), Cathy Flynn, Doreen Fitzpatrick, and Leslie Godfrey. Sitting – Mary Jane Mackereth, Karen Sauter, Lois Hennekes, Patti Pesklevits, and Shelley Godfrey. Missing is manager Kathy Weich.

Patti says: Some of you may have been there, some of you may not have cared. But for me, it was a major event in my life. You may have experienced another event at Vic High that meant as much to you as this one did for me. Perhaps it was the drama group, band or orchestra, another sports team, student parliament, the library or chess club or other clubs and/or a particular social group. There was a place for everyone at VHS. As a parent, coach and teacher, I was always reminded about how important these kinds of events and groups were to my students and players (including my own children), and how life-changing it could be to someone who felt very much like a small fish in a really big pond. These basketball friendships I experienced in my school years (Richmond Elementary, Lansdowne Junior High, and our beloved Vic High), have continued on to this very day. I count myself so fortunate to have many of these amazing women still in my life. So in the Year of the Tiger 2022, I am remembering 1975 and our own Year of the Tiger! Come Give A Cheer for Victoria High!      (Well said, Patti!)

 

Vic High Ring Meant Going Steady, Dawn (Eby) Quast, VHS 1965

 

I still have my Vic High ring.  It was given to me by my boyfriend when he asked me to go steady.  We started dating in 1964 when he was completing grade 12, half days, and I was in grade 11.   I wore it for at least a year with adhesive tape wrapped around the back because it was too big.  I remember how gross the tape used to get before I would take it off and wrap it again. The ring is in rough shape, likely from being in fights before it was given to me.  My boyfriend, and many guys at that time, liked to show how tough they were by getting into fist fights.

My comment in the annual talks about the UGA group.  We were the Unavailable Girls Anonymous – 5 of us with boyfriends already graduated from high school, so we hung out together at Vic High during grade 12.  Grace Hunter, Janie Potts, Nancy Rigby, Linda Temple and me.  I had a 52 Austin and we would pile into it at lunch time and head over to the Oak Bay A&W, all the girls pitching in to pay for the gas.

I eventually had the ring resized for my finger.  We were together for 4 years and then split up, but I never gave the ring back.  Does that mean I’m still going steady?  LOL

 

Cliff Moffat, VHS 1957                                                   

Here’s a great memory: watching the Totems play their arch-rivals, the Alberni Athletics, on a Friday night,  viewing everything from the old indoor track above the Roper (Old) Gym floor.  I also remember watching [Principal] Harry L. Smith  (The Bear) out on the field refereeing and officiating, just like one of the boys. A truly great man and principal👍👍

Cliff currently lives at Shawnigan Lake with his wife Joyce (62 years married), and regularly slalom skis with the Victoria Aqua Ski Club.  Thanks, Cliff!

 

Ray Pauwels, VHS 1960

Doc and the Doo Wops performed at our grad reunion in 1988 which was the best Vic High reunion ever! It was a fabulous reunion and as a result Doc and the Doo Wops are permanently etched on the blackboard of my mind. I graduated in 1960 so if you care to do the math, it was the 28th year post graduation. Why 28th you ask? Check with Russ Leech for an explanation!

Michael Hemming, Much More Than A Teacher of Art

Michael Hemming, Much More Than A Teacher of Art

Teachers come into our lives in many ways. Some have formal degrees and we meet them at school. Some come into our lives and seeing the potential in us, find ways to mirror that back so we might see it too. And some pose challenges that show us places within ourselves that present opportunities for growth. Michael Hemming was all of those and more. Vic High students from 1966 to 1988 were fortunate to benefit from his unique approach to teaching art history and art classes, his determination to empower students to recognize their own innate talent, and his willingness to support and encourage them to develop it.

Orphaned at an early age, he attended a Catholic school in England, ant at 15 made parts for the World War 2 Sting Ray plane at a secret factory in Southampton. After the war he was in the Marines, then went to art school where he studied under very well-known arts and crafts artists of the time and learned a craft he later taught – the art of calligraphy. A teaching post in Terrace, BC caught his eye and he was hired,  then moving to Trail where he met his Victoria-based wife doing a teaching practicum. They travelled a lot, their first daughter was born in France, and pregnant with their second daughter Michael and family settled back in Victoria and Michael began teaching art at Vic High.  Here are just a few of his students and their stories.

David (Mourant) Blue, VHS 1976

First off, I have to say Mr. Hemming was one of the main reasons I went to Vic High. I lived about half way between Oak Bay and Mount Doug schools. It was the art specialty program at Vic High that drew me to the school. Besides the standard art class and art history, we had special studio time. This allowed us to learn and grow und Mr. Hemming’s watchful eye. He taught me so much about art theory and pushed me to find my own style. His encouragement was wonderful.

Three of David’s pieces:      My Fairy Godmother                           Giles                      Lady Penelope

I have many memories of Mr. Hemming, but my favourites were of his more silly moments. He had quite the sense of humour. Something you rarely saw in teachers. One of his favourite tricks was with the stereo. There was always music playing in his class. He had a stereo at the front of class. There was also a long mirror behind the stereo. He seemed to wait until we were all concentrating and diligently working. Music would be softly playing. He would slowly move to the stereo and the WHAM, he would turn the music up full blast. Of course we would all jump. You could see him smirk  as he quickly turned the volume down again.

Mr. Hemming always said, the purest art is that of a child, before they’re told rules about what they can and cannot do.

Doreen Dufresne, VHS 1969

I came to Vic High around October of 1968 after I had started private school but decided to quit. I had lost my family and was attending school and being boarded at Strathcona Lodge. It was filled with endless rules, religions, and an art teacher that was stuck on doing landscapes. Everything was scary to me at the big school…Vic High… but when I set foot in the art room I felt like the room was my new friend. I loved the mess, the splashed paint, the black walls filled with crazy art and the inspiration to be our own creative selves. Mr. Hemming had a very strict and serious presence. He emanated a devotion to art and creativity.It seemed like an odd contrast but all the pieces of this man were special. He was just born to turn people onto art.

When I started I had a little test like everyone else as they started. I had to pick a drawing and do variations on it… one in cool colors, warm colors, pattern, texture etc. I remember having picked a little wizard which seemed a fitting match to Mr. Hemming. He had the 3 circles in his remarkable eyes that suggested he was a warlock! (Oh the vagaries of our high school minds!!) He took one look at my work and asked me what I wanted to do. I started painting and just flew with it. I could paint to my heart’s content. I was given all that I needed. It was the best gift anyone could give me. I got feedback and new friends. At one point Mr. Hemming asked me to design a poster for a dance. I did this and was given assistants to help me in the music room when it was empty. This gave me so much confidence and a feeling of being so capable. Eventually the school was asked to show in the museum. This was the first year of this and my paintings were very present. This was such a boost to me. I will always remember it.

Mr. Hemming said that he just gave the students what they needed to utilize their talents. He did not seem to take a much credit for this. He was just devoted … to his students. When a new canvas was needed off went Michael to auctions to buy old paintings and turn them around so we could use them. This is so much work.

In my thirties I decided to go into teaching because I remembered what a difference a teacher could make in a kid’s life. I took art teacher’s training but ended up teaching a very creative version of Home-Ec. I had students design their own sewing projects by sketching it out first. In my foods class I would let them decide with flavors they wanted, how to taste as you go and learning to be one with your stove. I am sure that this all never really fit the system but …..

I feel so privileged to have been one of Mr. Hemming’s students. He was an amazing and talented person. He created lovely sketches of female nudes, such sensitive use of line.!!! We were taught all the eras, styles, and names of about 12 basic artists. I wish they still did this. It had been a huge advantage to my recognition of styles and inspirations. I remember that Manet is different than Monet because Manet has an “a” from black and he uses black in his work but Monet does not. I have been to the school so many times as a substitute teacher.or a visitor and the art room is all white. My heart feels a little broken because Mr. Hemming is not there and all the black and white seems so clean and empty.

Thank you, Michael, for your inspiration, support and great memories. You never knew my loss or my background but you were there for me and for others in a way for which I am forever grateful.

Gail O’Donnell, VHS 1975

I am a Vic High graduate from 1975. I had Mr. Hemming as an art teacher for 2 years and I loved the art classes as Mr. Hemming really challenged me. To this day, I have a framed original portrait of a young girl in red charcoal framed in my living room that I love and that I drew in his class. I still have the poem drafted in calligraphy that we learned over 3 months of focused concentration in Mr. Hemming’s class.

We used to have drawers in Mr. Hemming’s art room that we kept our work in. I remember walking into his class one day and he was waving around a small piece that I had doodled that mimicked some Inuit artwork. He wanted to know if I had done that. I thought I was in big trouble so I quietly mumbled yes. He was all happy and announced that it was going to be used as the Vic High Christmas card that year. He certainly could be intimidating!

How did Mr. Hemming shape my future? I did my first year of Fine Arts at UVic before eventually getting my Bachelor degree in Interior Design through Mount Royal College in Calgary and at Ryerson Polytechical Institute in Toronto. I practised interior design in both Victoria and in Toronto but in 1987, I abruptly changed careers working in non-profit & co-operative housing development. I worked with talented architects and contractors and then moved on to co-op housing management. With all of that under my belt, I was asked to take on a new role at the City of Toronto developing new child care centres for the City which I have been doing for the last 22 years.  I am privileged to work with Canada’s best architects including some from international destinations. I have had an amazing career where my creativity has helped to transform child care here in Canada’s largest city. Mr. Hemming taught me focus, that detail does matter, and that classical music in the background helps the creative juices flow. I thank him very much!

At the last reunion for Class of ‘75 that I attended – perhaps the 30th, – Mr. Hemming was standing at the front door greeting the students coming in. He chatted with both Linda Gustafson and I and we were blessed with a laminated bookmark of a nude that he had sketched. I still have that bookmark, even more special since I had no idea that he had passed away. It makes me happy to hear that he made his own choices.

Lawrie Dignan, VHS 1970

Michael Hemming had a great influence on my art life and I truly enjoyed the Art Specialty program for the three years I got to be part of it. I was fortunate enough to meet him several times after I retired, and he attended art shows that I had in 2007 and 2009. I also reconnected with (artist) Keith Hiscock, [VHS 1968] who was also in Michael’s Art class at the same time as myself. Barry Tate [VHS 1967], is another of Michael’s students I met up with again. We both sold our artwork at Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal for many years and spoke often and highly of Michael’s influence on us.

You can find Lawrie’s work at  www.icanvas.com/search?w=lawrie+dignan

 

Cheryl Taves, VHS 1979

Photo credit: Conrad Jay

The Value of A Good Teacher

Blog post January 25, 2015 – www.cheryltaves.com  (Cheryl’s art)

www.insightcreative.ca (Cheryl’s Creativity Coaching)

In recent years, I have been reunited with my high school art teacher. He’s a dashing, eloquent and pragmatic 91 year old. His name is Michael Hemming.

I took double blocks of art from him during my high school years and couldn’t get enough of his art history classes. They often included lengthy slide shows with accompanying narratives full of details about the artists’ lives that not only helped me to understand their art more fully, but had me certain that he knew each artist personally. The anecdotes and personal insights into their work were so engaging that as a teenager, even when dealing with all the teenage narcissistic obsessiveness that is teenage life at times, I could not wait for his art history lessons each week.

Listening to Mr. Hemming’s lectures I felt passion, respect, and admiration beyond words. He saw each artist as valuable to art history in some way and that’s how he presented them…..each one having shown us an idea and way of painting that would inspire those who came after. We started with the early cave paintings in Lascaux, France and ended with Abstract Expressionism, I believe. After all it was the mid-70s and Post Modernism was in full swing.

Truth is it made me want to be an artist even more deeply than I already did. I wanted to have what I did mean something and to tap into some deeper understanding and truth.

I believed then, and still do now, that artists are plugged in differently. And, through that difference comes an awareness of how much more there is to know about the world in which we live. This makes us walk through the world with an eye to see the unseen and the unnoticed. It’s like a role we must play not only because we are so surprised that others don’t always see this, but because it aligns naturally with the act of art making and creating. Observation, interpretation, absorption and re-interpretation….all this because our artistic mind wants this as its fuel….its need.

So recently I spent an evening with Mr. Hemming at a holiday gathering where he was introduced to a few other artists and an avid art collector. He was quickly recognized for his natural wit and profound understanding of art history and soon gathered a number of individuals around him to talk about art. As I observed him, as artists do, I noticed a sense of deep gratitude rising within myself. And although I had realized this before, I felt fully just how privileged I was to have this man as my art teacher in my youth. He took me, the artist, so seriously and had such a commitment to enhancing the natural talent that he saw in his students, including me, that I flourished under his tutelage and really owned my desire to be an artist.

Although I didn’t actually assume my artistic life fully until much later, I believe that Mr. Hemming’s art classes changed my life and opened a place within myself that had not yet been accessed. Because of that I knew definitively that I was an artist. I just hadn’t realized the depth of that moment until, sitting at that party, I watched my beloved teacher offering up his opinion of a young artist’s work. To the young man, who was asking Mr. Hemming to look at a recent painting he’d captured on his cell phone, Mr. Hemming simply replied “Symmetry is your enemy”.

In that one short sentence he had given a critique, a suggestion, an opportunity, a conundrum to this young artist. This is what I loved about him. He could offer his opinion, his critique, while giving you the task of having to dig further within yourself and your work to fully get it. And when you did, you knew that you had just been seen, supported and made stronger through the process. He is a teacher that knows it is most important to guide the student to their own understanding of what their work needs. That’s how they’ll actually learn. And when his guidance is peppered with an anecdotal narrative from the work of a great master, like Cezanne for example, his favourite artist, you really feel that connection to all of art history…and that you are a part of it as well.

Still makes me tingle to this day….thank you, from the depth of my being, Mr. Hemming.

 

Thomas Anderson, VHS 1970

Michael Hemming had such an impact on all of us as we dreamed of a future in art. He inspired us to bring our artistic passion forward. He taught us so much about art history. We had a great class. I remember Richard Hunt and Keith Hiscock among others as fellow students. Mr. Hemming had an old Quad stereo and turntable in class and occasionally played records while we worked on our projects and even let me bring some of mine to play! I remember bringing a Blodwyn Pig album and he played it! He was a great teacher who will always be fondly remembered by all us! He drove an old 1950’s Porsche sports car and wore turtleneck sweaters with cord pants and desert boots…..we all thought he was so cool and artisy!

Vic High Inspires ‘Pencil Architect’

Vic High Inspires ‘Pencil Architect’

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Something about Vic High drew him in on his daily walks with his dog, and inspired him to  take up his mechanical 2 mm drafting pencil and draw her. Forty to fifty hours later, Karl Gruenewald had completed this extraordinary drawing. He shared it on his Instagram account, and the Vic High Seismic Project’s Heritage Architect Kristal Stevenot saw it and told us about him.

“My wife is from Victoria,” says Karl, “we got married here, and last summer moved here from Ottawa. Something about Vic High reminded me of my high school in Moncton. I think it’s important to document these kinds of buildings and share the images.” Karl is an Intern Architect, and his wife just finished her architectural studies.

Karl attended art school as well, working in pencil and charcoal. This drafting pencil drawing is his first, and he’s started working on a drawing of the Northern Junk building in downtown Victoria. He draws on good archival quality cotton rag paper, using no fixatives which might distort the drawing. He drew Vic High from memory, from photos he took, and photos found on this website.

More of Karl’s work is available https://www.instagram.com/pencilarchitect/ . Prints of his Vic High drawing are available on his website www.pencilarchitect.com  The original image, measuring 20″ x 15″, is also available to purchase. And you can view a timelapse video of Karl drawing Vic High by searching YouTube for pencilarchitect.

 

Yoga and Mindfulness, Key to Coping with Life

Yoga and Mindfulness, Key to Coping with Life                                                             March 2022

by Mary Anne Skill, VHS 1975

Matt Phillips dims the lights, puts on soft music and begins softly reading. On the floor, 28 students relax on their yoga mats, listening to the guided meditation that offers them ways to connect with their emotions and how these emotions affect the body. You can feel the tension leaving the students and the room. This is the Yoga and Mindfulness class, and over 80 students take it to help them cope with the pressures of school and life.

Yoga and Mindfulness was started six years ago by Grace Lee, now on maternity leave, and is currently taught by Matt Phillips. Grace is a Yoga teacher and taught a gentler yoga class. Matt is an athlete, and his yoga concentrates on core strength and balance. Guest yoga teachers are regularly invited to lead the class so the students get to experience all the different types of yoga techniques available and find something that works for them. Following the meditation, the students all bring out their journals and start writing in response to today’s prompt: Who are your three favourite people and why? Matt says this question encourages the students to acknowledge and appreciate the support in their lives. While the students write, Matt answers questions about the course and his involvement.

“The class was started as a way of teaching students about coping mechanisms to get them through the day and to deal with emotions. It’s about being in the ‘now’. With technology and social media, it’s so easy to dwell in the past or worry about the future. The class teaches skills to cope with feelings and emotion, learning to recognize stressors in your life and learning to manage your reactions to them. We teach breathing techniques for energy, sleep, relaxing. Yoga and Mindfulness helps the students to balance the mind and body, so they can be the best they can be. This class offers a safe, welcoming place to sort yourself out when you’re stressed out. It offers structured and guided coping skills, and the yoga helps to release tension. The class teaches you to control your day, rather than your day controlling you.”

Matt points out some of the life-long skills that the class promotes, of strength, flexibility both in body and mind, learning to be still and focused within yourself, working towards inner peace and healthy channelling of emotions.

Scarlett is in grade 12 and is taking the class for a second time. “I took the class in grade 10 and now again in grade 12. The class helps me with difficult times, it breaks up the day and helps me to focus on myself. I always leave in a good mood, with a clear mind and thoughts, and physically refreshed.” Coral is in grade 9 and this is her first time taking the class. “I’m new to Victoria, and Vic High, plus I’m in the Honours program. The class helps me to relax and focus. It helps with the anxiety and stress of being new to everything. It keeps me in the moment.”

During the recent pandemic, Vic High kept the class going as much as possible with online meetings and classes, handouts and offering any help needed. “It wasn’t ideal, but it was what was available when in-person classes were cancelled. But the students kept connected with us, they stayed with the class and participated from home.”  Matt notes that the class helps him to connect with the students and allows him to help them more. And he freely admits that he does the class and finds his own mental health is better. He actively encourages teachers and staff to join in when possible as the lessons taught can benefit everyone.

The class is held every day from 9-11:45am. Students can come and go depending on their commitments, but most are there for the whole class. All grades from 9 – 12 are mixed in a class as the content is individually focused. “You’re not competing with anyone. Each person is on their own individual journey, dealing with their own issues. This class teaches them to help themselves, and to deal with their issues in positive ways.” The students can take the class more than once, and many do as they find it helps them in their schoolwork and social life. “It’s given me such positive ways of dealing with stress and life, and I’m taking it again to help me focus in my final year” says Scarlett. “I’ll definitely keep doing this after I graduate, but I’ll miss the class, and the peace that’s here.”

Vic High Stands Strong as Renewal Goes On Around Her

Vic High Stands Strong as Renewal Goes On Around Her                                                            March 2022

Architect’s rendering of east student entry facade of the updated Vic High.

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Vic High Alumni volunteers manage the Vic High Archives & Museum and are keen to document the upgrade process for posterity. Gord Wallace, the School District’s on-site Project Manager, toured Archives volunteers through the site, Annie Boldt, Archives Manager, and volunteers Fergie Andison and Linda Baker. Our beloved school may look torn up and broken on the inside, but the 1914 structure is strong and resilient and it’s almost as if the old girl is thrilled all the broken and weak bits can now be fixed.

110 people – men and women – were on-site, and it was reassuring how many take this project so personally. One worker says his grandmother went there, another was excited to help recreate the original moulding detail in the 2nd floor front ‘heritage hallway’, and Wallace himself takes great pride in the different elements they’ll be able to restore. We thanked them all for taking such good care of our school.

Have no fear. The new Vic High will resemble the old in many ways, while creating the welcoming inclusive spaces and culture for which she’s known.

Click here for School District video tour of March 2022 status of project.

The hope is this one Roper Gym wall will be restored using salvaged bricks still intact.

The Roper Gym, still ready for a game despite the chaos.

The tour starts and ends at the Site Office, steel-toed boots and hard hats in place, signing in and out. Strict safety and health protocols in place.

The Andrews Gym, where old unsafe bleachers came out and new ones will be installed.

Hallway leading off the Roper Gym towards boys’ change rooms.

Tools of the trade. Up and down and up and down and up and down the stairs. No wonder those workers are so fit! (Two elevators when she re-opens, one already there on the west side, another going in on the east side.)

Supports in place – this was most recently the Weight Room – while work goes on everywhere.

Fourth floor classroom area, most recently the Biology Room off the south hallway.

Love to see the old brick. Too bad it gets covered, but good to know those walls are as strong as ever.

Paint peels from uncovered ceilings everywhere. Imagine. 108 years old, that paint.

Interior view of the exterior – looking up. Taken from the new east side (unfinished) stairwell column.

Interior view of the exterior – looking down. Taken from the new east side (unfinished) stairwell column.

Skilled plasterers fill in the huge gaps left when old crumbling plaster was removed from various walls.

Thanks! For taking such pride in your work and such good care of our school.

First floor hallway facing east. So much bigger since the old fire suppressions walls around stairwells are finally gone. Fun to imagine those 1914 students entering these glorious spaces for the first time.

One more floor to go on the new NE stairwell.

All our gorgeous stained glass windows in those stairwells are well protected.

Third floor classroom facing east – more areas where old crumbling plaster had to be removed. Skilled plasterers will fill in the gaps.

Architectural details stored for re-use or re-purposing are safe and sound in huge covered piles in the Roper Gym.

The auditorium won’t look that different when Vic High re-opens. But everything’s covered up as work goes on around it.

The project’s Heritage Architect is assessing and tagging every auditorium seat to determine any level of repair required, and workers examine how best to complete the work. Seat plaques are intact. ( a $250 donation to the Alumni gets you a plaque on an available seat. Go to the Auditorium Seat Plaques image on our Home page.)

Removal of dropped ceilings revealed original moulding. Wonderful detail. And see how they managed to get a perfect ‘egg’ in the corner – in every corner, actually. Such incredible 1914 workmanship. It’s too costly to recreate everywhere, but check out the photo of the mock-up replacement work.

A plaster mock-up to recreate original moulding detail in the 2nd floor front (south) hallway, the area to become the school’s ‘heritage hallway’. Installing this everywhere is cost-prohibitive, but this hallway will be a special place indeed.

More exposed brick walls, this on the south wall of the Roper Gym Balcony. Just know that though eventually covered up, this tough resilient wall is still there, as it was in 1914.

Vic High Archives & Museum Manager Annie Boldt (VHS 1967) thanks contractor DCM Durwest partner Rhys Beasley, Site Superintendent on the Vic High project.

Some things have survived so far (can you see the cut-outs left on the window by the last class?), at least until windows are replaced. The 9-over-1 configuration remains, with fewer windows able to open. But it will be more than enough.

A sample of the finish for new terra cotta tiles replacing old unstable ones on the exterior, great pains taken to blend the new with the old.

Some of the 5,000 cut-outs needed to install drag struts, which transmit lateral loads on the building (like earthquakes) to vertical shear load-bearing walls. (the seismic update part of the Vic High project)

 

 

Maple Melder-Crozier, VHS 1976 Vic High Spirit Personified

Maple Melder-Crozier, VHS 1976    Vic High Spirit Personified

by Mary Anne Skill, VHS 1975

Dr. Maple Melder-Crozier, VHS 1976, identified so strongly as a Vic High grad that she even decorated her first apartment bedroom in black and gold. “I felt so loved and wanted at Vic High and had so much fun!  It provided me with a strong educational foundation that served me in my university years.  It encouraged me to value education so much that I have never left it!”

Maple was part of Vic High’s Centennial Year grad class and very active in the social side of Vic High. She was a part of Calamity Players, The ABC (Activities Booster Club), and the Modern Dance Club, which she was instrumental in starting.  She also served as a chair of the Graduation Committee and was part of the Centennial Show dance troupe. Maple choreographed the disco finale of the show and was the featured dancer in the number ‘That’s the Way I Like It.’   “Being part of the Centennial Grad Year, with all the hype and events, was a phenomenal experience, particularly the show at Memorial Arena.”

Following graduation, Maple married Mike Crozier (VHS ’74). They had met while Maple was at S.J. Willis, and she’d attended all his Vic High events with him. They moved to California a couple of years after getting married.  There she spent another 12 years in school, earning a Bachelors in Biological Sciences, a Masters in educational psychology and a Counselling License, and a Doctorate in Education.  She was given the opportunity to do research in Cloning, Gifted Education, and Math attainment in school children.  She worked in a Youth Recreation Centre as an administrator and counsellor with inner city kids.  Since moving back to Canada, Maple has been a professor at University of the Fraser Valley, from which she will retire this summer! Along the way there were 3 kids and now 4 grandkids ranging from 2 to 19.

When asked ‘what did you love about attending Vic High?’, Maple said she has lots of loves.

I loved the historic building.  I loved the lives and memories it represented.  I loved the admin and teachers, and made great, life-long friends.  I was given the chance to do unique courses like Architectural Drafting.  Where else can you write on the school walls (in the attic, of course)?  I wrote my name on the wall and even declared my love for Mike in paint there, whom I later married.” Maple has since replicated that ‘heart of love’ for Mike on the walls of their son’s shop, a lasting tribute to Mike who passed three years ago.

Maple also remembers standing up for students’ issues while at Vic High, and has continued in that work for justice by being a part of the BLM movement. Vic High remains firmly in Maple’s heart, and has influenced her life up to the present. She’s an active member of her Reunion group and will be contributing memories to the upcoming 150 Year Vic High Book.

Update: Maple’s just-published book is now available on amazon.ca. Congratulations, Maple!

VHS 150th Book Challenges High Bar

VHS 150th Book Challenges High Bar Set by Peter Smith, VHS 1949

by King Lee, VHS 1958                     March 2022

As Helen Edwards, VHS 1964, begins organizing and writing Vic High’s 150th anniversary book to be published in 2026, she faces a high bar set in Peter Smith’s “Come Give a Cheer, One Hundred Years of Victoria High School, 1876-1976.” She is up against a superb book by a 1949 Vic High grad whose father, Henry Lawson (Harry) Smith, is a legendary Vic High teacher (starting in 1914) and principal (1934 to 1955). Helen is 1st Vice-Chair of the Vic High Alumni board,  a well-known Victoria historian and  heritage advocate, and author of two books so far. (www.helenedwards.ca)

Peter Smith died on August 29, 2006, at the age of 73 but his widow, Mary Jean Smith, still remembers the pleasure with which her husband worked on the research and writing of Come Give A Cheer, the definitive history of Vic High’s first 100 years. He spent his nights and weekends poring through Vic High Archives collections and writing while doing his “day job” as a professor of classics at the University of Victoria. “It was definitely a labour of love,” Mary Jean said. “He wrote it with a lot of pleasure.”

She can’t recall how Peter became involved but suspects it was the supreme arm-twisting skills of Lawrie Wallace, who was a passionate Vic High supporter and a family friend. Peter, who became Dean of Fine Arts at UVic, dedicated Come Give a Cheer to Mary Jean, who said it was written to honour his father. “I do remember he was extremely happy writing that book,” she said, adding that Peter was very pleased with the results of his work.

Peter’s father Harry Smith was a dedicated and popular Vic High principal who knew the name of every single student at the school each year. Peter told Mary Jean that the only time he saw his father cry was in the spring of 1942, after the final morning assembly attended by the school’s Japanese students before they were taken to internment camps during the Second World War. The event was an emotional one for all Vic High students. Mystified by the federal government’s actions,  many of them in tears as their Japanese friends filed out of the assembly. The event is described on Page 103 of Come Give A Cheer.

Mary Jean, who is 84,  remembers well the 1976 Vic High Centennial celebrations, particularly the elaborate show presented by Vic High students at the then-Memorial Arena. Peter, who loved to dance, got to do the Charleston on stage in his Yale University graduating robe.

While Come Give a Cheer concentrates slightly more on the structural history of Vic High, Helen is leaning more towards also highlighting the people at Vic High, particularly focusing attention on the years after 1976. She welcomes everyone’s memories, photos, artifacts and says stories of the 1976 Centennial are sure to figure prominently in the book.

Email  to share memories, or your willingness to be interviewed or share photos or memorabilia. Helen has assembled a team of volunteers to work on the book and welcomes anyone who would like to help.

Helen Edwards, VHS 1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter Smith, Part of An Iconic Vic High Family

(from the dustcover of Come Give A Cheer, published in 1976 by the Victoria High School Centennial Celebrations Committee)

The author of Victoria High School’s centennial history is Dr. Peter Lawson Smith, who was born in Victoria’s Foul Bay district on March 31, 1933. His mother, the former Alice Corry, was a Vic High graduate who came back to teach at the school; his father, the late Henry Lawson (“Harry”) Smith, was on the VHS staff from 1914 – 1955, and was a popular principal for 21 years from 1934 – 1955.

A student at Vic High from 1945 – 1949, Peter Smith was the editor of the Camosun during his graduating year and was the leading student in British Columbia for 1949. After two years at Victoria College [forerunner to the University of Victoria], he completed a B.A. degree at UBC, and then went on to Yale for doctoral studies in classics. He taught at Yale and Carleton University in Ottawa, before responding to the Victorian’s innate homing instinct. He is now Dean of Fine Arts and Professor of Classics at the University of Victoria, an institution whose early history is interwoven with that of Victoria High School.

 

Electric Vehicles No Problem for Vic High Automotive Students

Electric Vehicles No Problem for Vic High Automotive Students

by King Lee, VHS 1958     March 1, 2022

Victoria High School’s automotive teacher says the trend toward electric engines is not affecting the program in any major way. While Stew Wheeler admits the systems are a lot more elaborate, he says the course teaches the basics, including engines, steering, brakes and tires. “We teach them to work with their heads and their hands,” he said.

The courses teach inspection, maintenance, diagnosis, repairs of various systems such as engines, braking, steering, cooling and electrical. “You’re more than just a mechanic,” said Stew. He estimates that about 10 per cent of automotive students are female. “That [boys-only] stereotype is gone. It’s society that’s changing that thought.” The 20 or 21 students who take the course at Fairey Tech, which is still operating full-time at Vic High’s Fernwood Campus, learn the theory of the vehicle’s power system, which continues to evolve.

Stu also uses the internet to learn about the developments in recent technology, such as electric motors: “I’m always looking for what’s new out there.” He said the Greater Victoria School District is continuing to invest in diagnostic and other equipment to help automotive programs at Vic High, as well as at Oak Bay, Mt. Douglas and Esquimalt.

The automotive program has existed at Vic High since 1946, when the school district decided on new industrial arts facilities at the school. Plans were developed for a two-storey building across the athletic field from the Grant Street building at a cost of $270,000. In 1949, the new building was officially opened and named after Frances (Frank) Thrower Fairey, a long-time teacher, B.C.’s Director of Technical Education, Regional Director of the Canadian Vocational Training Program and eventually the province’s Deputy Minister of Education. Fairey Tech housed the electrical, automotive, sheet metal, welding and two woodworking shops as well as three classrooms on the upper floor. A larger automotive workshop was added in the mid-1950s.

In 2010, a new Fairey Tech facility was attached to the north side of the main Vic High building and the iconic “rabbit hutch” across the track and field was demolished. Stew said he had input into the layout and access of the new facility, the opening of which was delayed from September to mid-October of 2010. Hoists, tools and mobile equipment were dismantled where necessary and moved across the field in 16 shipping containers. Although the hoists were relatively new at the time of the move, they were eventually replaced.

Four Vic High students have been chosen to take the Level 1 automotive course at Esquimalt which leads to Camosun College. That course was originally at Fairey Tech but was moved when the Vic High teacher left to go to another school. Through his connections, Stew was also able to send students for work experience at four Victoria businesses; BMW, Simoes Auto, Napa AutoPro and Galaxy Motors. He said students who miss a class can catch up on “Google Classroom.”

 

Gus McTavish, who took apprenticeship night school courses, taught at Fairey Tech in the mid-to-late 1950s and became a Vic High Vice-Principal, said Fairey Tech was considered state-of-the-art for “a long time.” But in the 1970s, Gus said Vic High was in a declining mode and the Fairey Tech staff, which reached a high of 13 teachers, dwindled down to one in each discipline except for automotive, which had two.
Overall, Gus, who also volunteers with the Vic High Alumni, feels Fairey Tech has served Vic High and the community extremely well.

 

 

 

 

Ron Lou-Poy, VHS 1952, Gracious Vic High Supporter

Ron Lou-Poy, VHS 1952, Gracious Vic High Supporter

By King Lee, VHS 1958

Ronald Lou-Poy, lawyer, volunteer, charity fundraiser, chancellor and strong but silent Victoria High School supporter, has died at the age of 88. Ron’s post-graduate connection to Vic High was mainly in the Lawrie Wallace era of Victoria High School Alumni Association’s rejuvenation. He was made an Honorary Member of the Association almost 30 years ago.

“He was always incredibly kind,” VHSAA Chair Roger Skillings recalled. Roger, whose connections to Ron were from the Alumni Association and through tennis, also used the words “thoughtful” and “generous” in describing Ron. Roger said that Ron offered legal advice to the Alumni Association which aided in the drafting of important documents in the Wallace era. Ron apparently helped Lawrie, who he revered, as a debt of gratitude for what the former teacher and provincial secretary did for Ron during his time at Vic High.

After Grade 12, Ron was destined to go to secretarial school and work at his family’s wholesale fruits and vegetables business. But Lawrie, who was Ron’s mentor and counsellor, saw the potential and paid one or two visits to the Lou-Poy family to urge Ron’s father, Harry, to send him to college or university. Ron attended Victoria College (forerunner of University of Victoria) and University of British Columbia, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1957 and a law degree in 1960. He articled at the Victoria law firm of Crease Harman & Company and rose to senior managing partner before retiring after 52 years.

Besides VHSAA, his volunteering included United Way of Greater Victoria, Kiwanis Club, Chinese Benevolent Association, Crime Stoppers, Victoria Police Board and McPherson Foundation, to name a few.

Photo courtesy of UVic Photo Services

Ron was UVic’s ninth chancellor, serving two terms, and was awarded the Order of Canada for volunteerism in 2003. UVic President Kevin Hall said of his passing:

“Ronald Lou-Poy’s contributions to the university – in nurturing community connections and cultural bridges, always aligned with the values of service, justice and philanthropy – helped shape what UVic has become today. His passing is a great loss to us. And it’s also a reminder of the great impact that individuals can have on the world when they commit themselves to making the world a brighter place. Ronald Lou-Poy was a shining example of that spirit.”

“He was such an asset to Vic High,” said Keith McCallion, former principal and VHSAA chair. “He was always there when we were fundraising,” said friend Alan Lowe, former Victoria mayor and Vic High grad of 1979. Ron and his wife, May, were Alan’s guests at the inaugural VSHAA Black and Gold Dinner at the CFB Esquimalt Wardroom in 2014. Alan described his dinner guests as a “power couple” and said Ron was well-respected, very funny in his own way but he could also be very serious.

Anne McKeachie, the Black-and-Gold-dinner coordinator, described Ron as a sweet man, gentle and humble. “He totally supported us,” said Anne, whose other memory of Ron was at the 2006 renaming of the Vic High auditorium to the Lawrie Wallace Auditorium.

Ron is survived by his wife, May, and children Patrick and Anne Marie. Read his full obituary here. 

The 2016 Black & Gold Dinner, L to R May Lou-Poy, Norma Mickelson (Inductee), Ron Lou-Poy, Astrid Doidge

 

 

Vic High – Oak Bay Rivalry in the Eby Family

Vic High – Oak Bay Rivalry in the Eby Family                                                         

by Dawn (Eby) Quast, VHS 1965

February 2022

How does one child in a family of four end up as an Oak Bay High School grad when the rest were Vic High grads?

As the eldest child in the family I had happily followed my mother’s footsteps to Vic High, although I had been very disappointed in 1959 to leave Margaret Jenkins Elementary to go to Central Junior High when just about all my friends went to Oak Bay Junior.  We lived west of Richmond Road, the strictly enforced school catchment border.  Year two at Central we were given our little typewritten registration cards from the office to update any information.  Sure enough, written right beside our address of 1744 Gonzales was a note saying it was west of Richmond!  One block of Gonzales sent students to Central and then Vic High and the other two blocks sent them to Oak Bay.

I quickly got comfortable with Central and Vic High and never gave Oak Bay another thought until my brother Art Eby reached the end of grade six.  It was the year the Department of Education changed the school grade configuration and left all grade sevens in elementary school.  Margaret Jenkins Elementary didn’t have room so they sent all their grade seven students to Oak Bay Junior High, including those who should have gone on to Central and Vic High. Mother definitely wasn’t happy Art was going to Oak Bay!

At the end of Art’s grade seven year, the administration informed all those west of Richmond Road that they now had to go to Central Junior High for grade 8.  Of course the kids were settled in at Oak Bay and didn’t want to move. But Art was lucky.

His best friend was Raymond Peterson, whose father just happened to be Leslie Peterson, an MLA and the BC Minister of Education! I don’t know about the other students, and maybe some were happy to move to Central, but those two got to stay at Oak Bay.  That’s probably where Art got introduced to the power of politics.  Art remained at Oak Bay until graduation.

Our younger brother Ted, two years behind Art in school, wasn’t affected by this strange turn of events.  He headed to Central and Vic High as did our younger sister.

The rivalry between Oak Bay and Vic High was very intense, no more so than for those at Margaret Jenkins who were split between the two schools when they finsihed elementary school. I still have that ‘fighting feeling’ when a reminder of the rivalry shows up.  I wasn’t a jock and didn’t play any team sports except curling when I was at Vic High, but I did play in the band.  The Music Festival competitions were key and it was most important to be sure to do better than the Oak Bay band.   Now that I’m back connected to Vic High uploading obituaries to the Alumni website, even in death, hints of that rivalry show up in some of the stories.

Brian Dance, VHS 1966, The Totem Who Covered the Sports World

Brian Dance, VHS 1966, The Totem Who Covered the Sports World

by King Lee, VHS 1958

February 2022

 

Brian Dance’s fondest memory, even after more than a half-century in broadcasting, is of a basketball game between Victoria High and Oak Bay.

“My sports highlight at Vic High came in 1966 when, as a member of the Totems, we beat arch-rival Oak Bay to win the BC provincial high school championship,” Brian said. “The game was played before a packed [UBC] gymnasium and watched by thousands on [CBC] television around BC.” The 1966 Vic High grad still recalls the details surrounding the all-Island final: the Bays had beaten the Totems in the Island final [the Totems beat them in the Lower Island title game], and had a powerhouse team led by Bob Burrows and Brian MacKenzie (now a BC Supreme Court judge). Brian said that Vic High realized it couldn’t match the offence and had to rely on a stifling defence which resulted in a 37-33 championship game.

Brian eventually got into radio and television and, after 51 years, retired last year from CBC Radio in Vancouver.

He was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital (now Victoria General), where his mother was a nurse, close to the Wellington Avenue family home in Fairfield. As a child, Brian attended Sir James Douglas Elementary and Central Junior High before enrolling at Vic High in 1964. The family eventually moved to Oak Bay But he was allowed to go to Vic High because, in those days, open school boundaries gave students the choice. “I’d rather be with my friends,” he explained.

 

Brian had taken up the trombone at Central and joined (and eventually became the student president of) the Vic High Concert Band, which was led by Rod Sample, father of renowned Victoria jazz musician, Bill Sample. Brian also belonged to the Timers and Scorers Club, although was definitely on the court, not beside it, at Totems’ games.

When Brian went to the University of Victoria, he studied biology and geography, still with no idea as to a career. Around 1969, he decided he wanted to be a sports broadcaster, left UVic and enrolled in six-month broadcasting course in Toronto.

His first radio job was all-night disc jockey at CHUB in Nanaimo. He really caught a break when Calgary TV personality Ed Whalen (of Stampede Wrestling fame) was on vacation on the Gulf Islands and heard Brian on air. Mr. Whalen offered a job in the CFAC radio newsroom in Calgary with a promise to mentor him in radio and television.

At the time, Brian was entertaining an offer from a Quesnel radio station which included hosting the morning show as well as play-by-play work, all for the princely sum of $400 a month. After some negotiations, Mr. Whalen doubled the Quesnel offer to seal the deal and Brian was off to Calgary. It was all meant to be, because that’s where Brian met his wife, Marilyn, who worked in the CFAC accounts office where he picked up his paychecks. They have two sons, Ryan and Michael, and five grandchildren.

True to his word, Mr. Whalen taught Brian about television and when Mr. Whalen had a falling out with Stampede Wrestling producer Stu Hart (father of iconic wrestler Bret Hart) and quit, Brian took over as television host for a year and a half.

After six years, Brian joined CBC Radio in Calgary as a sports reporter and went to the corporation’s Toronto station as a national radio sports reporter. In 1989, he returned to B.C. to be closer to his aging parents and worked his final 21 years in sports and news at CBC Vancouver.

That’s where Brian became a listener favourite, when North by Northwest radio host Sheryl MacKay began on-air conversations with him around his newscasts. Their friendly banter engaged listeners and propelled that show to the top of the ratings.

In 2015 he shared his compelling personal experiences of being in the direct path of wildfires in BC. B.C. fires: CBC journalist faced evacuation, destruction of his own cabin | CBC News

Along the way, Brian covered nine Olympic Games, five Commonwealth Games (including 1994 in Victoria), the Stanley Cup (including the 1994 Stanley Cup final against the New York Rangers which resulted in the Vancouver riot) and the Canadian alpine ski team at a time when they were known as the “Crazy Canucks.”

In 1987, he was named the Canadian Sportscaster of the Year and presented with the Doug Gilbert Award.

Coincidentally, former CHEK-TV personality Gordie Tupper attended Sir James Douglas Elementary, Central Junior High and Vic High schools as well and also graduated in 1966. Read his story here.

And more than a coincidence, they both lived on Wellington Avenue in Fairfield at a young age.

Fred Dobbs, VHS 1977 From Student to World-Class Sculptor

Fred Dobbs, VHS 1977     From Student to World-Class Sculptor

by Mary Anne Skill, VHS 1975

February 2022

Fred always wanted to be an artist. A key memory for him was when he was 5, growing up in Ireland, and his dad taking him and his family to the beach. There his dad covered him seated waist deep in the sand and built an open top sand race car around him. Fred remembers thinking ‘Wow, you can make stuff out of other stuff.’

At Vic High, Fred was supposed to graduate in 1976 but failed English, not realizing it was a core subject needed to graduate. When he returned in 1977 to complete English 12, Art teacher Michael Hemming set up a personalized schedule to enable him to attend four art classes. He studied graphic design, silk screening and basic sculpting, including the additive method (starting with an armature and adding material to it) and subtractive method (starting with a block like wood and carving away until you get your piece). Fred was also on the Volleyball team and restarted the Gymnastics program. Vic High had the equipment but not the class or team. But Fred was a serious gymnast and competed in the BC Games.

His fondest memories of Vic High were the comradery of the teams and being able to immerse himself in the Arts program. As he always wanted to be an artist, he considers the interest and ‘nudging’ of Mr. Hemming as a stepping stone to fulfilling his dream. After Vic High, Fred went to Camosun College for their Graphic Design and Commercial Artist programs as well as a signwriting course.

In the early 80’s, while listening to a radio station in Vancouver, he got wind of a sand sculpting competition in White Rock, BC. After assembling a core group of willing participants, it was off to the races with a team called Freddie and the Sandblasters which began making waves in the sand sculpting community along the Pacific coast from Parksville, BC to San Diego, California. The team scored big wins at the US Open, the Canadian Championships, and the first World Team Championships at Harrison Hot Springs.

At Harrison Hot Springs in the early 90’s, team Freddie and the Sandblasters, along with rivals Totally in Sand joined forces to create a sand sculpting world record for height in a 100 hour event, which was recognized by Guinness World Records.

 

 

For the next 20 years, Fred travelled the world as a professional sand sculptor. It was a great way to see the world, as he sculpted throughout Canada, the United States, Australia, Germany, Romania, Kuwait, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Haiti, and the Bahamas.  In Kuwait, he worked with 74 other sculptors on a sand sculpture project the size of four football fields. He has also worked for major companies like Disney, Warner Brothers and Hanna-Barbera Productions.

 

Fred found the work extremely inspiring, especially working alongside and with sand sculptors from around the world. Many of these sculptors studied architecture and anatomy and their knowledge showed in their designs. Fred says that the talent pool and skill level for sculptors is rising sharply, especially due to Russian, Japanese and European artists. From his fellow sculptors Fred learned about different techniques, specialized tools, and the importance of knowing your subject matter. He tells the tale of trying to sand sculpt a Lipizzaner stallion, using a white Barbie doll horse as a model.  He was quickly informed that the Barbie doll horse was an Arabian, not a Lipizzaner, and learned that there is indeed a difference in body structure between breeds. However, years later he was invited to Kuwait to sculpt Arabian horses, and he remembered the lines of his Barbie doll horse.

While the job of sand sculpting around the world is artistically fulfilling, it does mean a lot of travelling – over 200 days away from home some years and a lot of that in the sky flying to destinations. The pandemic drastically slowed down sand sculpting, but Fred still keeps his hand in the discipline. The past four years he has worked with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, going to their private islands in the Bahamas where their ships dock, and sculpting while on display. As he says, “I’m paid to play in the sand.”

Outdoor sand sculptures can last a few months if they are properly sealed with a sealer. Indoor sand sculptures can last longer (for a year or more) as they are free from the weather and hopefully vandalism. There’s even a sand sculpture museum in Tottori, Japan.

From sand sculpting, Fred studied with well-known Victoria sculptor Peggy Walton Packard (who sculpted the bronze bust of Queen Elizabeth that resided in Beacon Hill Park for years), and Linda Lindsay (who has two beautiful bronze sculptures in Oak Bay). Fred also worked with Renaissance Studios and ArtForm Sculpting Studios under the direction of Derek Rowe, creating concrete sculptures and architectural components and learning the skills of mold-making and casting concrete. The resulting sculptural works now adorn Victoria buildings like Shoal Point and the Aria.

Fred moved on to working with bronze alongside Nathan Scott at South Island Bronze foundry in Victoria, learning the disciplines of cire perdue, the lost wax process of bronze casting, as well as welding and finishing patinas on bronze sculptures. He notes that a piece like Ocean in Motion (shown above) consists of a total of 20+ pieces: each of the three Sea otters was cast in three sections, along with the numerous sections for the bull kelp and base, that all needed to be welded together and chased to a fine finish in preparation for the coloured patina. He took a course in patination from Patrick Kipper in Colorado – considered one of the master antique patinators in the world.

Some of Fred’s sculptures can be seen in and around Greater Victoria, notably: Camossung at the Gorge Waterway Park in Saanich, Lunar Transitions outside the Oak Bay Library, a collaborative effort with Nathan Scott called The Sleeping Giants on the lawns of the Oak Bay Municipal Hall, as well as the Pacific Sea Otter plaque in Beacon Park, Sidney, BC.

Fred recently moved from Victoria to Mayne Island and is busy setting up his studio. Mainly working in cold cast bronze, which has similar attributes of pure bronze, but without the weight and need for high heat to melt the bronze to cast.  He’s busy working on new designs, which will surely pop up around Victoria soon.

 

Fred offers these parting words… “A friend once told me, ‘No knowledge is ever truly wasted, moreover it is compiled, layer upon layer over years of immersion in a given field.’ ” Passion for what you do and a great interest, plus someone believing in your talent, can lead to a wonderful career and life. Vic High’s art teacher Michael Hemming believed in Fred and it made a difference.

If you’d like to see more of Fred’s sculptures online, his website is www.sculptorfred.com.

Another of Michael Hemming’s art students is a world-renowned artist. Click here for the Black & Gold video about First Nations artist Richard Hunt, VHS 1971.

Vic High Sweethearts – The List Keeps Growing

Vic High Sweethearts – The List Keeps Growing

Updated March 2022

Joanne Dark & Keith Hart, VHS 1960

The best part of going to Victoria High School was meeting my future husband Keith in grade 10. In May 1958, I put on a surprise 16th birthday for him and that helped cement our friendship. After graduating I went into nurses training at Royal Jubilee Hospital. Keith moved to North Vancouver with his family so we carried on a long distance romance and married on Aug. 28th, 1964. I worked at Vancouver General Hospital and Keith worked for a Retail Credit Co. and a Marketing Research Co. before returning to UBC. We did reports for the White Spot, so being poor, we ate there twice a week. White Spot raised their prices so I asked for a 25 cent raise for each report and they fired us.

Keith went to UBC and completed his B Ed degree majoring in Physical Education and Business. With Joanne’s support, he graduated in 1968, the year our daughter was born. Keith began his teaching career at Semiahmoo Sec. in White Rock, grades 11,12 and 13. What a dream job for a first year teacher. Keith loved teaching and coaching and was fortunate to take his 1989 basketball team to the Provincials where the team finished 8th in the province. While at Semiahmoo Keith started a Community Recreation Course, for grade 12 students, to introduce them to activities outside the gym. This was the first such program in Surrey Schools.

Our son was born in May 1970 on Keith’s birthday. We had 10 house moves in 8yrs and finally moved into our first house in 1972 in South Surrey. Four houses later we live in a gated complex in a rancher townhouse close to White Rock. We winter in our house in Mesa Arizona in sunshine and blue skies which is wonderful for Joanne who struggles with arthritis.

Keith received his Master Degree in Education Administration from Western Washington University and worked as a Vice Principal at various high schools in Surrey, for 21 years. For 25 years he was chairman of the All Star Committee at the BC Boys Basketball tournament. He served on the executive for over 30 years and was President of the Association in 2006. Keith and Joanne volunteered for many years for the Woman’s Fast Pitch Tournament in South Surrey. Keith also volunteered for the 2010 Olympics. Joanne worked part time at Peace Arch hospital, Surrey Memorial hospital and Home Nursing in Surrey. She has also volunteered for many years for Peace Arch Hospice.

After retirement Keith worked at Morgan Creek Golf Course for 18years, as a marshal and starter. Keith has been a wonderful support to Joanne through her numerous surgeries – the last in June of 2021 when she had an accident on her e bike and fractured her tibia. We have taken many wonderful trips and cruises to many different countries. We are fortunate to have six grand children

Keith’s favorite teacher was of course Mr. (Porky) Andrews. He has many fond memories of being on the Totems. Joanne’s favorite teachers  were Mr. Hartley who taught English for the exams and Miss Bassett, PE teacher who was so nice to the girls.

So a love story that started in 1958 continues with wonderful memories of Vic High, family, friends and travel.

Maple Melder & Mike Crozier, VHS 1976 and 1974

Mike and I met before Vic High through my good friend, his cousin. We started dating while he was in Grade 11 at VHS and I was in Grade 9 at SJ Willis Junior High. There was a janitor’s strike that year so we got to spend a lot of time together with our mutual friends. We traipsed all over Victoria and along the wild beaches along the west coast of Vancouver Island. It was obvious to our friends and families that we were completely in love. I painted that fact on the attic wall at Vic High, and after Mike died, on the wall of my son’s shop. Though I had many scholarships offered to me, we married soon after I graduated in 1976, with Principal Lorimer doing a toast to us at our wedding. (My parents said “I chose love”.) I loved Vic High so much, I had a room in our first apartment decorated in black and gold with VHS memorabilia.

We had our first son (who also left sports scholarships for love and married his high school sweetheart) while Mike went to Camosun College and BCIT, graduating top in his class.  He was recruited to a job in California and finished his education at UC Berkeley as a Civil/Structural Engineer, seismic specialist. I went to university for the next many years, becoming a biologist, then counsellor, and completing a Doctorate in Education which led to my career as a professor. In 1991 we moved back to Canada, settling in the Fraser Valley after 10 amazing years in the San Francisco Bay area of California.

Two more kids came along and later, 2 grandsons and 2 granddaughters. We travelled much, we lived well, and laughed often with our wonderful families and friends. We celebrated 41 love-filled years together and had crazy, exciting adventures.  Mike was on one of his adventures in 2018, hiking the West Highland Way in Scotland, where he suffered a massive heart attack and died instantly. Victoria High School was an integral part of our lives, and I will be forever grateful for all the memories. Maple is featured in the Alumni’s March newsletter. Click here for her story.

Lyle Keewatin Richards & Alison Dobie, 1977

Lyle and Alison became ‘we’ July 25, 1976, the summer before their Grade 12 year. Lyle asked Alison if she thought they should share their story, saying, ‘It happened, kids, move, then like so many others we split, move back, c0-parent. But I don’t want to write it.’ But Alison decided it was a compelling one. She begins:   Lyle’s right, it was our life, and though apart for almost 30 years now, we shared 16 years, three children, a fair amount of strife, but also lots of family, love, and fun. At our first apartment together in Victoria, we were forced out in the middle of the night as it went up in flames – a fire that made the front page of the paper then and is still talked about today, much to my surprise just recently on Old Victoria.

After moving to Red Deer in 1979, we worked for a time, became pregnant, and later, to our utter dismay, lost our eldest child Benjamin as an infant. We went on to have two more wonderful children, Rory (Logan) and Lucas. During our time together Lyle was instrumental in beginning the process of bringing to light some of the lost Indigenous children forced to attend the Red Deer Indian Industrial School, which was recently featured in McLean’s magazine. Lyle lives in Red Deer and is married to his long time love, Pat, with whom he has a daughter Mari. I returned to Victoria permanently in 1995 where I had a long career in Clinical Research. In retirement I’m indulging my artistic side. We were, indeed, Vic High Sweethearts.

 

Sylvia Mobey & Bill Hosie, VHS 1961

Bill & Sylvia Hosie met while acting in the 1959 Vic High production of  Lust For Life directed by Tommy Mayne. Bill was playing the role of Vincent Van Gogh & Sylvia  the role of his sister, Elizabeth Van Gogh.  Their scenes together were filled with shouting because Elizabeth did not approve of Vincent being an artist.

Bill asked Sylvia to ‘go steady’ around Christmas 1959. They were both in the 1960 VHS production of Song of Norway, and, of course, performed in many Calamity Players’ sketches, danced in the Square Dance Club under Mr. Wallace, sang in the Choir under Norma Douglas & attended Thespians, school dances & Totems basketball games. At lunchtime, Sylvia often watched Bill playing Volleyball, and after school, Bill would watch Sylvia dancing in the VHS Modern Dance Club.

They were married June 30th,1965.  Bill already had an established professional actor/singer career both on TV and live stage and that took him all over Canada, New York, Scotland, Japan, Germany & Cyprus.  Sylvia graduated with distinction from UVic, taught in both primary & high school with a lengthy 2nd career as a dancer/choreographer/director/performing arts instructor.  She directed, choreographed & co-wrote, with Dr. Peter Smith, ‘Come Give A Cheer’, the Victoria High School Celebration of its 100th birthday, a show that was staged at the Memorial Arena. Bill & Sylvia have three children and three grandchildren.

Donna Fleming & Ray Graham, VHS 1969

Ray and I met on Gonzales Beach the summer after grade 10.  Ray had gone to Central Jr. High and I had been at Lansdowne.  Starting at Vic High, we both lived in James Bay, and walked home from school together so we could save our bus fare money to buy cigarettes at the Tuck Shop near Vic High.

Teacher Mr. Jamieson caught us a number of times holding hands in the hallways and sent us to Vice Principal Reg Reid’s office.  Mr. Reid would say ‘you guys again’ and send us off to our classes.  In Grade 12 we were locker partners.

We got married in 1972, and have two sons and two granddaughters. We will be celebrating our 50th Anniversary this year! PS Our eldest son also married his high school sweetheart!

 

Amber Barrs & James Mallach, VHS 2002

It all started spring 2000, when James, who was hanging out with his buddy Vince Cox, noticed me at the end of the hallway, decked out head to toe in Adidas.  James, too, was decked out in Adidas. He turned to Vince and said, “I’m going to marry that girl one day.”  it was love at first sight for James. However for me, the feeling was not mutual…at first. After months of wooing – poutines from the George & Dragon, pizza slices from Thin Edge of the Wedge in Fernwood Square, and plenty of chocolate chip cookies and focaccia bread from Breadstuff Bakery – James finally made his big move. H kissed me at a rave we both attended at the beginning of summer – Summer Skool at Memorial Arena. Aaand…we’ve been together ever since. We’ll be celebrating our 22nd anniversary July 2022, and will be married 12 years December 2022.

PS  We both ended up staying an extra year for ‘Grade 13’, and graduated in 2002 instead of 2001. Neither of us is in the 2001 yearbook, tho we have a copy. Neither of us have the 2002 yearbook.

Hey Amber – we found you in the 2002 Camosun, but sadly, not James.  Click here to search your 2002 Camosun.

 

Gwen Eekman & Rick Acres,  VHS 1961, 1962

Rick took me out once in high school. His claim to fame was as a drummer in the Vic High band, and he played gigs outside of school. I was into music at Vic High and belonged to various high school choirs and the Madrigal Singers, and accompanied various high school vocalists on piano. Apparently it was an unremarkable date. We went to a movie, then to Paul’s Restaurant for something to eat. And that was that.

We met again in 2001 at the Vic High 125th anniversary celebrations. I’d graduated from the Jubilee nursing school and moved to California, but came home for the gala Vic High event. Something must have clicked then, because we ended up getting married in 2003. I worked for VIHA and Rick continued as a BC land surveyor. We’ve been living in Qualicum Beach since 2003.

 

 

 

Victoria George & Eddie Hart, VHS 2014, 2015

Eddie and I met years before Vic High, but we reconnected in 2012 when he was in Grade 9 and I was in Grade 10. We would play footsies in Mrs. Pugh’s art class, and we’ve been together since then. 9 1/2 years and still going strong! I graduated with Honours in 2014 and he graduated in 2015. He works hard as a landscaper in Victoria and I work as an MOA. We enjoy hiking and camping, and we’re proud cat parents with two fur babies.

 

 

Fred Packford & Doreen Dalziel, VHS 1949, 1946

On April 6, 2022 Fred and Doreen Packford,  celebrate their 66th wedding anniversary.

They weren’t together at Vic High but met on a blind date. Fred recalls the plans to go sailing were curtailed by a storm, so they went dancing at the Crystal Gardens. The admission was $5  a couple and there was a nine-piece band. “I thought I’d better make the best of this night,” Fred added, “as she probably wouldn’t ever go out with me again.”

Fred, who is 90, went on to apprentice in sheet metalwork before starting a 25-year teaching career at Vic High in 1957. Doreen, who is 93 and is affectionately called “Deen” by Fred, attended Victoria College (forerunner of the University of Victoria) for two years before she started working at the law firm now known as Straith and Company.

Both have worked tirelessly for the Victoria High School Alumni Association for more than three decades, and are still relied upon for their wisdom and guidance. Fred particularly remembers a 1991 annual Vic High Alumni dinner where he spearheaded the idea of a membership drive targeting 500 former students at $10 each to regenerate interest and scholarships in the Alumni Association.

“There’s something about Vic HIgh that ties everything and everyone together,” said Fred.

 

Jeff MacKenzie & Nicki Franke,VHS 1975, 1976

Jeff and I met on a Central Jr./Vic High joint trip to Russia, April 1973.  Jeff went to Vic High, I was at Central. Vicky Raptis, Mike Irwin and I sat together on the plane, until Mike asked to switch with Jeff because Mike was interested in a girl in Jeff’s row. Seeing me, Jeff agreed to switch, so Jeff and I were seatmates all the way to Moscow. I pretty much got Jeff’s life story and all I wanted to do was sleep! Anyhow, we hit it off. Jeff pursued me madly on the trip, and by the time we got home we were an ‘item’. Despite the ups and downs we both graduated, navigated young adulthood, and married in 1982 nine years after we’d met. A couple years later we had our first child, then another, and 2022 we celebrate our 40th anniversary. 2023 we celebrate 50 years together. We still love each other to bits, put up with each other’s BS, and just like being together at home, on road trips, or vacations.

 

Della Jablonski & Rob Jansen, VHS 1981

I met Rob in Grade 10, and we married in Grade 12. Friday the 13th because we couldn’t find a Justice of the Peace for Valentines Day. We had our own apartment with furniture given to us by my aunt, Rob quit school to join the navy while I stayed and graduated. He bought a 1969 Roadrunner that I drove to school while he was out at sea. I never went to my grad, waiting instead for him to come home from a three-month tour. We had our first child three months after school finished. We moved a lot – good times and bad times. Still together and our 41st anniversary is February 13, 2022.

 

Ina Foubister & William Sluggett, VHS late 1920s

William Sluggett took the electric tram from Brentwood Bay  to Vic High every day  – it being the only high school at the time – and that’s where he met future wife Ina Foubister who lived in town. Both played basketball at Vic High. They were married January 22, 1937 at Central Baptist Church. William joined the RCAF during the war and was stationed in various Canadian cities, Ina always going with him. They built a home on Saanich Road, and in 1949 daughter Sandy came along. 1987 they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  Ina passed in 1990 and William in 1994.

Thanks, Sandy Sluggett-Engels, VHS 1967, for the photos and story about these Vic High sweethearts.

Garry Bellagente & Andrea Bell, VHS 1964

Certainly some great memories of VHS. Number one would be meeting my wife Andrea Bell. Life was a challenge for me and I missed a chunk of Grade 11. Fortunately I met Andrea late that year but never recovered my studies.  Gudy Gudmundseth was the matchmaker, and later the best man at our 1967 marriage. Andrea worked at the Victoria School Board and her supervisor tutored me so I could graduate. I then worked 37 years with BC Tel and Telus. We live in Nanoose Bay and have two children and four grandsons. We have such fond memories of our Vic High years and the friends we made.

 

 

 

 

Sharon (Micks) Cipp & Nathaniel Daggett, VHS 1972

This is me and my high school sweetheart, Nathaniel Daggett, ready to leave for grad, me in my Romeo & Juliet-inspired dress (the movie was very popular at the time). Nat and I met in Grade 11, we were both Art Majors, under the inspiring art teacher Michael Hemming. He was shy to approach me but our friends encouraged him and our relationship began. We both ended up happily married to others, but around 1979/80 I ran into him at a local optometrist’s on Yates Street. We laughed, reminisced, and got caught up. In 2014 I travelled from my home in Whistler to attend the 100 year anniversary of the current building, and friends surprised me by enlisting Nat as my surprise date to the dance at the Crystal Gardens where the Vic High R & B band played.

Nat & I were never concerned with getting married…it was just that special friendship at the best of times. But Nat wants to do a remake of Grad…all dressed-up and pull-up in the Limo…for our next Class of 1972 reunion. It sure is nice to enjoy the company of old friends. More info and photos here. 

Howard Lim, Deep Thinker and Wise Beyond His Years

Howard Lim, VHS 1958, Deep Thinker and Wise Beyond His Years                 January 2022

by Gordon Eekman, VHS 1958

Howard Lim was born in November 1940. In 1952 at age 11, he worked as a page at the BC Legislature, the first Chinese-Canadian in this position.

At Victoria High School Howard was a friend of mine. In grade 12 Howard and a small group of similarly minded students would hang out together on weekends doing simple things and talking about big issues. Occasionally we would eat take-out Chinese food at his mother’s modest house.

In grade 12 during the session 1957-1958 Howard was the Victoria High School student council president and valedictorian. Here’s his year-end message in the 1958 Camosun yearbook:

Those of us graduating are soon to encounter the first great fork in the road of life and as we gaze back on our past school life we see many things. We can envisage the schools we attended, especially Victoria High for here we have spent our most happy and formative years. The long, storied history of Victoria High makes us proud to be graduating from this institution. Our teachers come to mind and in this moment of deep thought, we finally realize that all their actions were governed by one factor – the betterment of us, their students. We think of our friends and realize that friendship is one of the truly precious things in life, for their presence augments our happiness and eases our hardships. The happy moments of our school life we cherish forever and the sad ones we forget immediately. 

In closing we offer thanks to all those who have assisted us this far – our parents, teachers, and friends. To Canada we say this: “Our minds and bodies are yours.”

It was during Howard’s tenure that the Vic High school sweater was chosen, namely, black with gold arm rings. Howard graduated in June 1958. Here’s what was written about him in the Camosun:

Howard, our bespectacled Students’ Council president, is the able leader of our school activities. Popular with all the students, he sets the styles for the boys. Honorary Prefect, Grad Dance, Future Teachers’ Club, French Club, Concert Troupe, Boys’ Quartet, and Honour Student.

In September 1958 Howard entered his first year at Victoria College. In his second year there, he was so advanced in his studies and comprehension that the psychology faculty invited him to give formal lectures at the college.

In 1960 Howard and several of us Victoria College students worked during the summer as uniformed customs officers on the docks of the Inner Harbour, Victoria, BC. There we would inspect cars entering Canada by ferry boat from the United States and issue permits to Americans and Customs Declarations to Canadians.

After our third year (1960-1961) at Victoria College our ways diverged. Howard continued his studies in clinical psychology at Victoria College, and I went to the University of BC in Vancouver to study biomedical sciences and mathematics.

In 1962 Howard received an honours BA in Psychology, and a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship to pursue graduate studies in Psychology. During the 1960’s he studied at Stanford University and received his PhD in Psychology.

He worked in New York as a psychologist and had extensive business connections, some of which were management positions.

At age 54 he died tragically in Yonkers, New York. He was stabbed to death on April 12, 1995 by someone in his neigbourhood who had asked him for money.

In 2014, filmmaker Carolyn Wong presented her short film ‘Howard’ at Victoria’s Movie Mondays, a moving tribute to the uncle she never knew. Watch the video here.  Read about it here: https://www.timescolonist.com/entertainment/victoria-man-who-broke-barriers-gets-film-tribute-4606346

In 2008, McGill-Queen’s Press published the book, Lansdowne Era: Victoria College, 1946 – 1963, edited by Edward B. Harvey. Here’s the reference in it about Howard Lim.

Howard Lim, 1940 – 1995

Victoria College ‘58

 Howard Lim entered Victoria College in 1958, and four years later he received an honours degree in psychology. He was an outstanding student with personal characteristics that matched his academic capabilities. His achievements were reflected in the numerous scholarships he received over his student career, the culmination of which was his being awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in 1962 to pursue graduate studies in psychology. Howard had an easy, engaging manner that belied his driven nature. He would frequently get up at 5:00 a.m. to study, not typical behaviour in college students! He enjoyed the friendship and admiration of his peers and was active in college life. Among other things, he served as president of the Psychology Club and brought great energy and innovation to that organization. Howard decided to pursue his advanced studies in psychology at Stanford University. I suppose we all expected him to enter university professorship; certainly, he had the requisite intellectual capabilities and communication skills. Instead, he took his expertise in psychology to the private sector, working with companies such as General Foods and JCPenney. Later in life, he increasingly devoted his energies to the study of Zen Confucianism and became involved in helping underprivileged people in Yonkers, New York, the area in which he lived. As Dr. Brian Little, a close friend of Howard’s and one of his Lansdowne-era student colleagues, comments in his contribution to this book, “Howard was a luminously bright and complex man…(He ) was a model of the kind of student Vic College could turn out in the early sixties, and to say it was world-rank would not be at all a stretch.” Tragically, Howard Lim died in 1995 at the hand of one of those people he was trying to help. He was fifty-five years of age.

E.B.H.

Vic College 1962 Grad Class. Howard Lim, front row center

Howard’s brother Sam.

Additional Family Information

Howard’s mother was Alice Sho Ping Lim who died at the Aberdeen Hospital in Victoria on December 5, 2004 at age 101.  See her obituary here

“Predeceased by son Howard. She will be lovingly remembered by her sons, Fred (Suzanne), Ming (Nancy), Chue (Rosalyn), Dennis (Denise), Sam (Debbie). Daughters, Madelon, Georgina (Barrie).”

Howard’s brother Sam was born July 1948 and died on Sunday, April 24, 2005. Sam was the husband of Debbie Gregg and the father of Carson and Jordan Lim. For Sam’s obituary, click here. See also here.

‘Chek Around’ Personality Was A Vic High Grad

‘Chek Around’ Personality Was A Vic High Grad

by King Lee, VHS 1958

Gordie Tupper remembers his Vic High days this way: The higher his level of education, the longer the physical journey.  The Vic High 1966 grad attended elementary school at Sir James Douglas on Fairfield Road, travelling from his family’s Wellington Avenue home in the Fairfield area.

His junior high school days were spent at Central on Yates Street. Then it was on to Vic High on Grant Street, he fondly recalled.

“It was all like a big clubhouse to me,” said the 73-year-old Central Saanich resident who retired from Victoria’s CHEK television about two years ago.

He laughed when he talked about his Grade 12 class photo session. Tupper was not the shortest person in his class and had never been selected to hold the chalkboard for class photos. He asked the photographer if he could do that and was handed the board and front-and-centre seat.

Tupper took a Grade 12 Business Machines course, mainly because it was overwhelmingly girls and went through the course without really learning how to operate any business machines or type.

English 91 was also memorable for an incident in which the teacher, who had built a photographic dark room at the front of the classroom, was locked inside it by one of the students.

As a teenager, Tupper had an interest in broadcasting at a young age, building a small radio station in the family basement, complete with turntables. He began as an “operator” at CFMS, Victoria’s first FM radio station in the basement of the Douglas Hotel (now the Hotel Rialto) on the southwest corner of Pandora Avenue and Douglas Street.

An operator was a person who ran the music tape machines and, when required, turned on the announcer’s microphone. CFMS was a radio station that mainly used huge rolls of audio tapes to deliver “elevator,” semi-classical and classical music. Somehow, Tupper convinced CFMS manager Rudy Hartman, to let him and Gil Harris (who later became popular “rock jock” Doc Holliday and Doc Harris in Ontario and Vancouver) do a “live” morning show.

Tupper eventually moved over to CFMS’s AM sister-station, CKDA, and became its morning personality. His radio career included one-year stints with C-FAX and (now defunct) CJVI.

Also in his resume is a 10-year career working at Pacific Waterbeds stores in Victoria and on the B.C. Lower Mainland. It was at a Vancouver waterbed store that a customer walked in, noticed Tupper’s
“radio voice” and said CHEK-TV in Victoria was looking for a “voice-over” person. Tupper got the job and eventually moved into to the station’s promotion department.

In a Times Colonist interview, he told reporter Katie DeRosa that the station manager, Jim Nicholl, floated the idea of CHEK Around, a program in which the personality would run around digging up fun, unusual stories and interviews. “I got CHEK Around because no one else wanted to do it,” he told DeRosa.

Tupper recalls interviews with rocker Randy Bachman (Guess Who, BachmanTurner Overdrive) during which they belted out the opening line of Taking Care of Business, Canadian actor Leslie Nielsen, who noticed Tupper was doing an interview and decided to barge in, and Canadian literary giant Pierre Burton, who talked about bow ties. However, he admitted, “I got more fun out of ordinary people.”

One that came to mind quickly was the CHEK Around segment on the theme of tattoos. Tupper and his roving mike went downtown to ask passersby to “show me your tattoos.” He said one guy and a couple of women started stripping down to their underwear to show their “tats.” “Great fun,” said Tupper.

From Art Lover to Art Expert

FROM ART LOVER TO ART EXPERT                                                              January 2022

By King Lee, VHS 1958

 

Kerry Mason

Art lovers of every generation eventually become enamoured with Emily Carr’s art. “Every generation discovers her anew,” says Kerry Mason, who has studied and taught others about Emily Carr and her art for 45 years.

Kerry Mason, a 1967 Vic High grad, has been a professor of art history at the University of Victoria since 2001, and at the University of Colorado. In addition to numerous courses relating to Carr, Mason also teaches about the work of artists like Georgia O’Keefe and Frida Kahlo and lectures at the Victoria College of Art and the Vancouver Island School of Art. A respected art historian, author, curator and art consultant, she taught the first course on Emily Carr ever offered by UVic.

Mason is regarded as a Northwest Coast and Emily Carr expert, and ranks Carr amongst top Canadian artists along with the famed Group of Seven.

With both parents sharing an interest in the arts, Mason says her interest in art began at an early age and admits she had a very privileged and charmed childhood.

Born in Edmonton, the family moved to Calgary when she was six months old.

Music In the Trees, by Emily Carr

In March of 1964, her father attended a medical conference in Victoria and spent several days golfing. When he got home, he announced they were moving to Victoria and in the fall of 1965, they settled into a house on Rockland Avenue at St. Charles Street.

Ms. Mason, who had attended private schools in Calgary, enrolled at Vic High.

Kerry’s grad photo

“I had a happy time at Vic High,” said Ms. Mason, who attended Grades 11 and 12 at Vic High before earning a UVic scholarship in history and literature. She had skipped Grade 6 and so entered university at the age of 16.

Her history teacher at Vic High, Tommy Mayne, became a lifelong mentor and friend and even honorary grandfather to her and husband Jamie Morton’s two daughters and son.

“He was part of the family,” Ms. Mason said. She was at Mr. Mayne’s side when he died April 17, 2018.

In April 1977, Ms. Mason received a phone call from then Deputy Premier and Provincial Secretary Grace McCarthy asking her to run the Emily Carr Gallery.

Ms. Mason didn’t know how Ms. McCarthy knew about her love of Emily Carr art or how Ms. McCarthy obtained her number, but she was not about to ask. However, she did ask where the Emily Carr Gallery was and was told it did not exist yet, but was to open July 7.

Maude Island Totem
by Emily Carr

Kerry curated the exhibition which was set up in the Rithet Building on Wharf Street. Originally owned by Carr’s father as a warehouse, its name was changed when Richard Carr sold it to Charles Rithet just months before Carr’s death in 1888. The Emily Carr Gallery was free to the public, and Mason was its curator for the first 11 years.

Mason also became the curator of UVic’s Maltwood Gallery and was responsible for more than 50 exhibitions there.

“The variety, originality and clarity of Carr’s work offered a wonderful window into First Nations culture,” says Mason. It drew praise from one of the original members of the Group of Seven, Lawren Harris. “She’s one of us,” Harris reportedly said of Carr.

Ms. Mason said 1927 was a turning point in Carr’s career as an artist, when her work was displayed at a National Gallery of Canada exhibition in Ottawa, alongside works by the Group of Seven.

Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, J.E.H. MacDonald and Frederick Varley formed the original Group of Seven. When it decided to expand in 1932, Emily Carr was the first to receive an invitation to join.

But it was earlier,  when Carr returned from France in 1912, that she started painting and sketching native art.

Ms. Mason said that was when Carr’s attention turned to First Nations culture, and from unemotional, traditional and academic paint-what-you-see art to painting from her heart and soul, documenting the First Nations people of whom she was growing fond.

Cordova Drift by Emily Carr

In 1913 Carr returned to Victoria from Vancouver, where she had lived for six years and taught art, and became involved in pottery and rug-making as well as political cartooning. Her cartoons were featured mostly in a Vancouver publication, Western Women’s Weekly.

Two years earlier, her paintings had been selected to be included in an exclusive Paris art exhibit which included works by Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Emile Benoit Matisse and Vincent Van Gogh.

A testament to Mason’s observation and to Carr’s appeal, three paintings by Carr, who attended Vic High in 1888, were sold at a recent Heffel Fine Art Auction House digital sale for more than $4.5 million.  (See additional info below.)

A published author, Mason also edited Sunlight in the Shadows, The Landscape of Emily Carr, providing writings and a 5-page biographical sketch of Carr for this photobook of places Carr had painted. Her 2017 book, The Life and Art of Arthur Pitts, a British painter whose work focussed on the Indigenous people of the Northwest, also received favourable reviews.

Mason is an extraordinary source of knowledge about Emily Carr, and about other painters about whom she lectures as well. She is also very well-known for leading travel tours to West Coast locations where Carr painted, and to locations in New Mexico where Georgia O’Keefe painted.

When Vic High reopens in 2023, a new seat plaque will be installed in the Auditorium commemorating Emily Carr and the Vic High alumna who has become a leading expert on Carr’s life and work.

Carr Works Sold by Heffel Fine Art Auction House

The highest bidder for Carr’s paintings at the recent digital Heffel auction, held jointly from Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, paid $3,361,250 for Carr’s seaside forest scene Cordova Drift. The pre-sale buzz was that it might fetch between $2 million and $3 million.

Carr’s Maude Island Totem went for $841,250 and Music in the Trees for $301,250 at the auction.

Three other Carr works were sold at the auction and one was not.

Vic High Spirit Triumphs

VIC HIGH SPIRIT TRIUMPHS   

by King Lee, VHS 1959

 

In the mid-1980s, Vic High Principal Dave Watkins wore his Victoria High School jacket to basketball games as a beacon against a false perception about the school. He was proud of that jacket with the school crest he helped to redesign, and he was very proud of Vic High.

Watkins had come from Spectrum Community School in 1984 to the 1914 Vic High building on Grant Street that his grandfather, Elwood C. Watkins, had designed. His grand-uncle, Samuel J. Willis, had been the first principal in the newly opened building and went on to become BC’s Deputy Minister of Education. S.J. Willis school, where Vic High students attend classes while that 1914 building is being seismically upgraded, is named after him. Dave Watkins was definitely home.

 

Watkins made a point of wearing his Vic High jacket to those games because he wanted to change the perception that Vic High students were dispirited due to declining enrolment, and due to good athletes abandoning the school during an open-boundary era.

But current Alumni member, Gus McTavish, Vic High Vice-Principal at the time, said those perceptions were false because the students still had enormous school pride.

“To Dave, it was a challenge,” Mr. McTavish recalled. Mr. Watkins, who died on Sept. 10, 2018, saw that a change in perception was badly needed and he was determined to lead that change.

Vic High Archives & Museum Manager, Annie Boldt, with the Watkins Jacket

It was true that enrolment had declined to a low of 450 after Grade 10 was dropped and the school only offered Grades 11 and 12, and that some good athletes decided to take advantage of the “open borders” and go to Mt. Douglas for its sports programs and teams.

Keith McCallion, who took over from Mr. Watkins as Vic High Principal in the fall of 1989 and who is a very active volunteer with the Vic High Alumni, was working at the School District 61 headquarters in the early 1980s. He said S.J. Willis and Harbourview Elementary had already been closed, but rumblings that Vic High should have been one of them were still being heard throughout school board offices.

McCallion said in the late 1970s, Lawrie Wallace, VHS 1930, also a former Vic High teacher, led a group which lobbied against shutting down Vic High. Wallace had led the successful Vic High Centennial in 1976, helped found the society that later became the Vic High Alumni, and went on to become BC’s deputy provincial secretary and deputy minister to two BC premiers.

Donna Jones, VHS 1957, another Vic High Alumni Association volunteer, became a School District 61 trustee in 1983. She said by 1984 the danger of Vic High closing was basically over because two schools had already been closed. But the trustees wanted to make sure a dynamic leader replaced retiring Vic High Principal Jack Lowther, and Dave Watkins was that leader.

The crest Watkins helped design. It has since been redesigned.

“Dave was a great guy,” said Mr. McTavish, who added that Mr. Watkins was genuinely enthusiastic about improving school pride and spirit.

Mr. Watkins’ rebuilding plan included recruiting young and dynamic teachers like Walt Christianson, who was a legendary coach of the Victoria Shamrocks lacrosse team and coached Vic High teams as well, and Randi Falls, who later became a Vic High principal.

He also worked hard on getting the school district to return to catchment boundaries

“He loved the (Vic High) kids,” said Mr. Watkins’ widow, Lois. “He loved Vic High.”

 

The 1986-87 Camosun is a testament to Watkins’ enthusiastic leadership, with its cover proclaiming, It’s Back…At Vic High, and its contents built around the theme The Spirit is Back. 

Mrs. Watkins donated Dave’s jacket to the Vic High Archives & Museum, which are funded and managed by the Vic High Alumni Association volunteers.

“I knew it had to have a forever home,” she said.

Principals Jack Lowther and Dave Watkins may have borne the brunt of misperceptions about Vic High in the ‘80s dark days, but Watkins is credited with fanning the flames of Vic High school spirit and leading Vic High back towards its rightful reputation as an extraordinary school.

“I think he turned things around,” said Mrs. Watkins.

And his jacket, which will be proudly displayed once Vic High reopens in 2023, is definitely a symbol of Dave’s spirit and the turn-around he led.

The Great Key Caper

The Great Key Caper,  John Warren, VHS 1966                                                                                                                                        December 2021

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

 

 

It was the 60s. Peace, love, and you know, that little green plant we can now grow legally.

He says Vic High was great! Very social. A very special place. He joined the Music Appreciation Club, the UN Club, Thespians, the Philosophy Club, Calamity Players, SIRC, (Student International Relations Club), and the Stage Crew.

And that’s where the Great Key Caper begins: the Stage Crew.

John Warren was in Grade 10 in 1963/64 and quickly joined the Stage Crew.  “I definitely didn’t want to act,” he says, “although Calamity Players was a lot of fun.” (More about his alter ego ‘Igor’ in a minute.)

“I stayed on the Stage Crew when I got to Grade 11,” he continues, “Jim Merrill was still the Stage Manager. One day he came to me and basically said, ‘I’m gonna quit school, so you can be Stage Manager now’. I thought quitting school was weird, but I was OK with stage managing.”

Apparently Jim had ‘the key’. A pass key. A key that could open any door in the school.

 

 

Stage crew students were always busy backstage. There isn’t much room in the wings of the Vic High auditorium stage, so they were always moving stuff up and down from the attic. Having to get the key all the time from Mr. Foxgord, the Stage Crew teacher sponsor, was a big nuisance to everybody. So Mr. Foxgord would loan Jim the key for hours at a time.

“And Jim,” John continues, “had gone to Cubbons at some point (on Cook Street, now Castle Building Supplies), and had a duplicate key made.”

So now John had ‘the key’.

John’s the guy on the right, apparently leading the way.

John hated homeroom, all the formalities and prayers and such, so he came up with lots of excuses to miss it. There was always something to do backstage so being on the Stage Crew gave him the perfect excuse. But having ‘the key’ also became a convenience for this very busy guy. Stage crew members did lots of other stuff around the school, too.

“The school opened at 8 am,” says John, “but some days I wanted to come in early so I did, and used the key to let myself in. I don’t think anybody knew I had it.”

The Philosophy Club. John’s on the right side, peeking out behind the teacher.

Well one day, John – using ‘the key’ – goofed.

“I was up on the catwalk in the New Gym (Andrews Gym),” says John. “At one end there’s a short connection to the Old Gym. It was noon, and I was trying to get lights organized for the Friday night dance in the Old Gym. Mr. Price, the Gym teacher, was coaching a team in the New Gym and saw me using the key to go into the Old Gym.”

John didn’t really think about it or worry about it. Not even when one day in Mr. Hardie’s homeroom there was a PA announcement: ‘John Warren, come to the office.’ John didn’t know why, but off he went to see then Vice-Principal Mr. Lorimer.

Mr. Lorimer:       Do you have a key to the school?

John:                     Yes.

Mr. Lorimer:       Can I have it?

John:                     Yes.   (and ‘the key’ was passed over)

Mr. Lorimer:       Does anybody else have one?

John:                     No. I had it because I took over as Stage Manager from Jim Merrill. I wasn’t going to drop typewriters from the fourth floor or anything.

(A few years earlier, some students had gotten into the school and thrown typewriters down the stairwell form the fourth floor.)

Mr. Lorimer:       You realize we’re going to have to change all the locks in the school.  At considerable expense.

“And that was it,” continues John. “No detentions, no writing lines or anything. Mr. Lorimer was quite matter-of-fact about the whole thing. Although the next year, Mr. Foxgord was no longer the Stage Crew sponsor.”

In fact, a few years later, when Mr. Lorimer was Vic High Principal, he asked John if he wanted to be a teacher’s aide. “So I guess I hadn’t messed up too much,” says John.

The UN Club

Life went on at Vic High and John remained the Stage Manager in Grade 12, sharing the work with his friend Dave Tubman. John especially loved still being in Calamity Players. “It was all about improv and ad libbing,” John says. “There was always a script, reviewed by (teacher) Tommy Mayne ahead of time, but we had a lot of freedom on stage, and we all loved it, the Players and the audience. We also all loved Tommy Mayne.”

John remembers one particular time in Grade 12 when the Calamity Players were asked to promote an upcoming Tyees game at a school assembly. “I had this idea for an ‘Igor’ character,” says John. “I came on stage, took the mic, and in my best Peter Lawrie/heavy breathing/foreign accent voice, told the students about the team and why they should go to the game. ‘Igor’ was a hit, and I had fun with the character for the rest of the year.”

John lives in Montreal now, although he came home in 2016 for the Class of 1966 50th Reunion and hopes to come back for more Vic High reunions and events. He’s still a joiner, volunteer-guiding visitors at the Château Ramezay Museum in Old Montreal and very active in Prostate Cancer Support there and nationally. (www.prostatecancersupport.ca)

“Vic High was just so unique,” says John. “There were programs not available elsewhere, like Orchestra and Band and Choir which you could take for credits. There were all the Shop (Fairey Tech) courses which academic kids took, too. Students could start a club if they could find a teacher sponsor. Sometimes I think we had more freedom back then. And Vic High students were out making a huge difference in the community, like starting Cool Aid and changing the world.”

Indeed. And it’s pretty certain they still are.

P.S. If you’re interested, here’s a link to the history of Cool-Aid, the Victoria society started by Vic High students in the 1960s,  that houses and supports the homeless and poor. It was written in 2009 by Vic High Alumni Board Member and local historian Helen (Kelley) Edwards, VHS 1964.

The Man

 

The Legend (or is it The Myth?)

 

 

Bob Grundison, VHS 1947

Bob Grundison,  VHS 1947               Teacher, Optometrist, Artist, Good Friend                                                                                                             December 2021

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

 

Bob Grundison followed his childhood friend Pete Salmon into the academic program at Vic High, as good a reason as any, you might say, for a career path choice. And he was quick a few months ago to suggest we profile his lifelong friend Salmon and Salmon’s careers and accomplishments in our monthly e-newsletter. See story here.

 

But Bob definitely made the most of that early decision, earning degrees in Math and Physics at UBC after graduating from Vic High. He then took a year’s Teacher Training and taught Grade 8 Science and Math in North Vancouver for a year. But something else beckoned, so he headed to Oregon for more education and certification as an Optometrist. That career stuck. In fact, it lasted 54 years, and included Bob being named Optometrist of the Year by the B.C. Association of Optometrists in 2007.

 

Once a teacher, always a teacher, Bob combined his educational experience with his optometric training to help children overcome reading problems through vision therapy. And as the son of a shipbuilder, he’d learned that craft and built his family a 26’ sailboat, the Owl, which he and his family sailed for many years in the waters off Victoria.

Bob retired from his Victoria practice about ten years ago, although he did have one in Colwood and Sidney years ago, and says most of his career he practised in Victoria with some great partners.

 

 

 

Peter Salmon, VHS 1947

VIC HIGH’S DR. PETER SALMON: OLYMPIC SWIMMER TO SURGEON                                                                                                 December 2021

by King Lee, VHS 1958

 

Dr. Peter Salmon seamlessly went from Olympic athlete to well-respected surgeon after graduating from Victoria High School in 1947.

Bob Grundison, VHS 1947, who eulogized his boyhood friend at the Victoria Golf Club after 74-year-old Dr. Salmon died on Oct. 11, 2003, remembers fondly their carefree youth living in Fairfield, Salmon also living at one time on Blanshard Street across from where the current courthouse now stands. He also remembers the two of them having Victoria Times afternoon paper routes together.

One of his recollections at the eulogy was of the two of them aboard a wagon, careening westward down the Burdett Street hill from Blanshard Street almost to the Empress Hotel.

Dr. Grundison, retired from his Colwood optometry practice, even remembers attending the basketball game at the Vic High gym in 1946 when the Victoria Dominos upset the Harlem Globetrotters.

Peter Alexander Salmon was born in Victoria on Aug. 5, 1929, and he and Dr. Grundison attended Beacon Hill Elementary School from grades 1 to 3 and South Park Elementary School from grades 4 to 8 before entering Vic High in Grade 9. Dr. Salmon was 10 years old when he began swimming competitively and his first mentor was Victoria’s legendary swimming coach – and eventual B.C. sports hall-of-famer – Archie McKinnon.

 

Beacon Hill Elementary, 1936. Row 3: Peter Salmon is third from right, his lifelong friend Bob Grundison is second from right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Park School, 1943. Back row. Peter Salmon is fourth from left, Bob Grundison is third from left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along the way, Dr. Salmon set 16 Canadian swimming records, was the only Canadian swimmer to win gold at the 1950 British Empire (now Commonwealth) Games in Auckland, New Zealand, was selected as a National Collegiate Athletic Association All-American swimmer in 1951 while attending the University of Washington in Seattle, and represented Canada at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London (where he garnered a bronze medal) and the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.

 

Left to right: Rod Nixon, freestyle lap, Coach Archie McKinnon, Dick Bowden, Canadian Backstroke Champion, Peter Salmon, Canadian Breaststroke titleholder.

 

In between Olympics, Dr. Salmon set an NCAA record in 1951 for the 50-yard freestyle, a record which stood for more than four decades. He also became the first Canadian to win a U.S. national collegiate title in the 150-yard individual relay.

“He never broke any records with marks,” Dr. Grundison said with a twinkle in his eye and a wry smile. But Dr. Salmon’s academic accomplishments in the field of medicine tell a different story.

He graduated from the University of Washington with a medical degree and obtained his Masters degree in 1961. The next year, he earned his PhD. from the University of Minnesota and began teaching there as an assistant professor of surgery.

In 1966, Dr. Salmon became associate professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and then full professor in 1972 until 1994. From 1966 to 1990, he was also the director of surgical programs at the University of Alberta Hospital and specialized in research work into gastrointestinal transplantation and massive obesity.

After retiring from his academic and research careers, Dr. Salmon opened up a practice in Eugene, Oregon, where his widow, Janet, still resides. He operated his practice from 1995 to 1999.

And if the highest levels of competitive swimming and surgical, academic and research medicine weren’t enough, Dr. Salmon also enjoyed golf, tennis, kayaking, water skiing and body surfing.

Jr. Boys Volleyball 2021-22

Winning With Class,   Vic High Junior Boys Volleyball Makes Its Mark                                                                                                                                    December 2021

By King Lee, VHS 1958

Back row: Coach Bethany Murphy, Mateo Berkhout, André Moneda, Andrew Janz, Beaver Luchina, Shogo Mano
Front row: Eighan Entac, Rainier Gomez, Van Dazo, Mark Allen Menor

Winning is one thing, but winning with class and true sportsmanship was the big accomplishment for this year’s Vic High junior boys volleyball team. The team posted a 26-1 (matches), 49-3 (sets) season record, winning in league, Lower Vancouver Island, and Island championships.

Along the way, coach Bethany Murphy said, the Vic High team drew compliments from rival coaches, referees, and parents for their display of sportsmanship and fair play. One rival parent even put it in writing, praising the coach for the behaviour shown by the Vic High team, which exemplified class, grace and what a true champion should be. The parent said the Vic High team even shagged (retrieved) balls for the opponents during warmups, something the parent had not seen before.  See below for full text of the rival parent’s comments.

“I can’t take credit for that,” Ms. Murphy quickly interjected, trying to downplay the complimentary remarks by saying her players had that kind of open and helpful impulse at the start of the season. Ms. Murphy, who attended the University of Maryland on a full-ride volleyball scholarship, took over coaching duties from teacher Roger Duval, who continued coaching the senior boys team. She said she did not instill the sportsmanship, but rather inherited it from the boys’ previous coaches and the nature of the close-knit team. Six team members are good friends.

The volleyball program at Vic High is very popular, with high participation from the student body, resulting in three girls’ teams being formed this school year.

A problematic choice may be looming on the horizon for Ms. Murphy, though, who volunteers her services to Vic High’s volleyball program as a community coach. Next season, her son, Andrew Janz, moves into Grade 10 at Vic High and his sophomore year on the volleyball team. Her daughter, Hannah Janz, will be entering Grade 9 and the volleyball program at the school. But for now, she is enjoying the results of an outstanding season for her team.

Two players, André Moneda and Rainier Gomez, were called up to play as part of the starting six with the senior team. Moneda was selected Most Valuable Player at the Island Championships, and Eighan Entac was named to the Island All-Star Team. In late November, the team went to the Coastal Championships tournament in Langley, a regional alternative to the provincial tournament, which was to be held in Kelowna but cancelled due to storm damage. They came second in pool play but didn’t make it past the opening round of playoffs.

Ms. Murphy said the team even demonstrated their usual friendliness by warming up with the opposition.

The Vic High team may not have previously experienced the calibre of play at this year’s  championship tournament. But Ms. Murphy knows the team is motivated to build on this year’s successes and challenges. With such extraordinary sportsmanship and so many wins, the Vic High junior boys’ volleyball team will surely set their sights high for the future, and alumni will be cheering them on.

Text of comments sent by a rival parent

I just wanted to pass on my congratulations to the jr. boys volleyball team for winning the city championships on Friday night. My son was on the opposing team in the final against them. What I was most impressed with was the class that Vic High showed in that championship game. They celebrated their points appropriately -didn’t-over celebrate or rub it in their opponent’s faces. They complimented the other team when they did a good play, and what was most impressive was during the warm-up, they shagged (retrieved) balls for the other team during their time to spike.

I had not seen any team do this and so I thought that was excellent sportsmanship. Clearly this direction came from the top. Compliments to the coaches for leading a team that exemplified class and grace and what a true champion is. Everyone in the gym knew that Vic High should win that game as the other team was the underdog the whole tournament. But because of the way they won, my son was able to go home with dignity rather than feeling like they got smoked. I also think it is fantastic that the head coach is female! Great to see this. 

I wish Vic High all the best at the Islands this coming weekend. 

Seismic upgrade

Seismic Upgrade Moving Along                                                                      October 2021

 

Exterior photos are all we have at the moment, but if the masses of equipment and construction trailers and protected trees and construction crew in hard hats and porta-potties is any indication, the seismic upgrade work is definitely continuing inside Vic High these days.

Jim Soles, Associate Director Facilities, Capital Projects for School District 61 has been a key player in the planning for Vic High’s massive seismic upgrade, drawing on his experience with upgrades to other heritage schools and his creativity in suggesting ways to repurpose as many heritage elements as possible.

Jim is retiring, although we’re sure he’ll be at the school’s 2023 re-opening, but not before updating us on what’s going on inside Vic High right now.

  • Demolition is complete and everything is cleaned up inside the building
  • All trades contracts have been awarded and some rough-in of mechanical and other services has begun
  • Framing of new walls will begin within a couple of months and services’ rough-in will speed up

Girls Entrance, East side, facing Fernwood Street

The actual seismic upgrading of the building is the priority right now, continuing to reinforce the footings with shear walls and installing thousands of complicated drag struts. These connect the floors to the walls to help stabilize the building. Soles says the school was designed for vertical gravity loads, not horizontal loads or pressure like a seismic event. Drag struts connect and reinforce the whole building so each floor doesn’t move sideways in a different direction during an earthquake.

Fascinating stuff, right? More than you thought you’d ever know about seismic upgrading. But of course, it all makes sense.

Once walls are framed in and the new classrooms and open collaboration spaces are shaping up, a few of us will tour the jobsite again so we can take photos and share them with you like we did in our April newsletter. (We just have to remember where we put our steel-toed boots!)

Thanks, Jim, for caring about Vic High as much as we do. See you in 2023.

Southwest corner, Boys Entrance under the arch, facing the track

The 2011 Fairey Tech addition included an east entrance into its concourse, now being extended to accommodate a new Vic High Library and Neighbourhood Learning Centre.

Gillian Thomas

Gillian Thomas Article

VHS 2021 Grads Resilient, Focussed, Optomistic

Larger Than Life V2

2021 May 6 Vic High Grads Shine

VHS Computer Program

James Helmcken, VHS 1940, Victoria Royalty

Seismic Tour April 2021

The Secret Sixty

The Secret Sixty

by Keith McCallion, Alumnus/Former Principal

The Secret Sixty were a group of Vic High Tech students recruited to work on a top-secret project during World War II.

In February 1942 the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth the largest ship in the world slipped quietly into Esquimalt Harbour. After having been converted to a troopship a year earlier, she now needed some maintenance, and the Esquimalt drydock was the only one on the Pacific coast large enough to hold her.

Sixty boys were recruited to clean the ship’s boilers, presumably because of a wartime labour shortage. For security reasons, everyone was instructed not to talk about the mammoth ship. Although the Queen Elizabeth towered above her surroundings and was visible to all Victorians, there were no reports in the media about her presence.

The Alumni Association had heard rumours of the Secret Sixty for years, but informal appeals had elicited no information. Recently, however, a conversation with Dr. Don Elder (VHS 43) brought the welcome news that a patient of his, Jack Weber, had been one of the Secret Sixty. I contacted Mr. Weber, and he provided us with a written memoir which is now housed in the Vic High archives.

 Mr. Weber rode his bicycle to the dockyard each day from his parents’ home in James Bay. Armed guards were posted along the E & N Railway lines and at Colville and Admirals roads, while Royal Canadian Navy corvettes patrolled the harbour entrance looking for Japanese submarines.

The students were paid 40 cents an hour for the grimy work. I asked Mr. Weber if they were fed too; no, he said, but the ship’s canteen did provide them with cigarettes. To get outside for their “smoke break”, he and the other boys climbed the equivalent of nine storeys of stairs inside the smokestack.

Mr. Weber’s recollections resulted in his appearing on Global TV’s back-to-school special which aired live from Vic High in September 2010. He was also featured in a Times Colonist article about the Secret Sixty, which resulted in still more archival finds: Youbou resident Allan Scott saw the article and had photographs (which were forbidden) of the ship in drydock. These photos are now also in the Vic High Archives.

Photo courtesy Public Works Canada

Judy (Wakeham) Gill, Class of 1960 …Entrepreneur, Proud Mom, & Lifelong Vic High Enthusiast

Judy (Wakeham) Gill, Class of 1960 …Entrepreneur, Proud Mom, & Lifelong Vic High Enthusiast

 

 

Gord Hoshal remembered as playing key part in Island basketball history

Gord Hoshal remembered as playing key part in Island basketball history

Cleve Dheensaw / Times Colonist

 

Gord Hoshal, front row, second from left, helped the Vic High Totems win the 1969 B.C. high school championship at the Pacific Coliseum. SUBMITTED

Gord Hoshal, who was part of B.C.’s version of Hoosiers in high school basketball, died this week at 69 of cancer. He later went on to play for the University of Victoria as an all-star in Canada West and coached several teams around the capital, including the Camosun College Chargers.

The Vic High Totems were a basketball dynasty in the 1950s and 1960s but their last of four provincial championships came as a longshot underdog in 1969 in one of the biggest upsets in B.C. high school history.

Barrie Moen, Dave Mulcahy and six-foot-four forward Hoshal were the key players of the Totems’ team that edged the top-ranked Oak Bay Bays 38-37 in overtime in the all-Island 1969 provincial final with Hoshal scoring the two winning free throws. The defending 1968-champion Bays, led by centre Tom Holmes and coached by the legendary Gary Taylor, had a 32-game winning streak over two seasons going into the championship game and had beaten coach Porky Andrews’ Vic High squad handily in three previous meetings that season.

It was the first high school basketball championship game played at the Pacific Coliseum, attracting more than 8,000 fans, after decades of the B.C. tournament being held in UBC War Memorial Gym.

“Gord hit possibly the two most pressure-packed free throws in storied Vic High’s great decade of championship basketball,” said Mulcahy.

“The next day we had to take the same bus to the ferry as the Oak Bay team, us in the front holding our trophies, and them in the back. How sweet was that?”

Hoshal and fellow Totems co-captain Eric Earl rode in the Victoria Day Parade that May in the back of a convertible and holding aloft the B.C. championship trophy.

Hoshal and Mulcahy later played together with their Oak Bay rival Holmes at UVic, with Taylor on the Vikes bench coaching. Hoshal averaged 14.7 points and was named Canada West first-team all-star in 1971-72. He finished with an 11.7 points-per-game average in his three-season UVic career.

“Gord was one of the first UVic players to receive first-team Canada West honours,” noted Mulcahy.

“There was no three-point line and you weren’t even allowed to dunk. [The no three-point line] kept his scoring average down as he was a great shooter. And he invented the rub dunk, but [could use it] only in practice.”

Hoshal’s offensive prowess earned him the nickname Doc because teammates labelled him a local Julius Erving.

Hoshal went on after UVic to become a standout Senior A player with the Victoria Data Tech and Scorpions teams that won B.C. and Western Canadian championships and were Canadian runners-up, dispatching the likes of Olympian Phil Tollestrup of Lethbridge along the way, and also routinely beating former University of Washington Huskies and Washington State Cougars players in games across the border against AAU teams.

Hoshal’s coaching tenures included Camosun College twice, with co-coach and former national team player and Seattle SuperSonics draft pick Bob Burrows from 1998 to 2002, and national top-10 ranked Chargers teams with co-coach Gord Thatcher from 2003 to 2005. Hoshal took the Mount Douglas Rams to the B.C. high school tournament twice as head coach and co-coach between 1993 and 1997. Hoshal was also part of numerous hoops clinics across the Island.

“He was a players’ coach and the players loved him,” said Thatcher, who coached Camosun College from 2002 to 2008.

“As a former player, he had great insight into the game, especially the offensive end.”

Having been a student-athlete before becoming a clothier and later realtor, Hoshal knew the Camosun players had little money.

“Gord was very generous,” said Thatcher.

“We had won a Christmas break tournament in Medicine Hat and it was minus-40 with wind chill and we wanted to do something special for the players after the game on New Year’s Eve so we took them to The Keg. Gord picked up the tab. He was that kind of guy.”

Mulcahy summed up a basketball life: “We were basketball gypsies. Decades of road trips and playing games, years of coaching, Gord loved and lived the game.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

 

Class of 2011 – Do You Believe?

This lip dub video, produced by Vic High students captures the Vic High Spirit perfectly. Way to go!

View the video https://youtu.be/T1Dg6XkpE94

Vic High has its own Killer Whale Pod

A Soccer Ball Rolls Through It

A Soccer Ball Rolls Through It. A century of “the beautiful game” at Vic High. by Barrie Moen and Doug Puritch (VHS 1969)

Vic High History…1876 and Counting

Victoria High School is the oldest public high school in western Canada. It opened on August 7, 1876, with an enrolment of 12 girls and 22 boys.

Vic High has had four successive homes. The first was a log building with two classrooms, located on the grounds of what is now Central Middle School. Only six years later, the facilities were so inadequate that a new building – a brick annex attached to the public school next door – opened in 1882. This too was soon outgrown and a new building opened in 1902 on an adjacent site. This imposing new school at Fernwood and Yates was designed by the eminent architect Francis Rattenbury, who was also responsible for such local landmarks as the Provincial Legislature, the CP Terminal Building, and the Empress Hotel.

On May 1, 1914, the fourth Victoria High School opened a few blocks north at Fernwood and Grant. This state-of the-art facility, designed by local architect C. Elwood Watkins, cost some $460,000, at that time the most expensive school ever built in British Columbia. Its principal was Samuel J. Willis, who later became BC’s first Deputy Minister of Education. With an enrolment of 478, the new school had plenty of room to also house Victoria College, whose classes were taught by Willis and other senior Vic High faculty.

The Fairey Technical-Vocational Unit officially opened in 1949, across a playing field from the main school, and major new wings were added in 1956 and 2011. The 1956 addition provided a new gymnasium, classrooms, and art and music studios, while the later one replaced the obsolete Fairey Tech facility. The school’s enrolment peaked at 1540 students in 1963.

The school’s centennial celebrations in 1976, chaired by former Deputy Premier L.J. Wallace (VHS 1930), attracted some 10,000 alumni and friends. One highlight was an original historical musical presentation at the Memorial Arena, produced by staff, students, and a team of volunteer theatre professionals led by the popular teacher Tommy Mayne (VHS 1935). The proceeds from this celebration resulted in the establishment of endowment funds, now exceeding $200,000, and an Alumni Association that oversees them. Another legacy of the centennial was a lavishly illustrated history, Come Give a Cheer by Dr. Peter Smith (VHS 1949), whose father H.L. Smith had been the school’s longest-serving principal (1934-55). Still another was the creation of the school’s award-winning Archives, which are managed by Alumni volunteers. The Association went on to produce major celebrations in 2001 (Vic High 125), in 2008 (a homecoming for grads of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s), and in 2014 (the 100th anniversary of the present Vic High building).

In 2020, after months of public debate and a year of planning, the building closed for a major seismic upgrade budgeted at over $77 million. Classes continue at the Vic High Topaz Campus (former S.J. Willis Education Centre) and Fernwood (Fairey Tech) until the renovated building reopens in 2022 with a capacity of 1000 students.

Vic High History 1974-2020

VIC HIGH ARCHIVES HISTORY 1974-2020

It all started in 1974 when a Centennial Celebration Committee (CCC) was formed by then-principal Duncan Lorimer and chaired by Laurie Wallace (1930) to oversee the big 100-year celebration of Victoria High School, 1876-1976. The CCC was composed of many alumni members from many decades, all given very different responsibilities. For example, Dr. Peter Smith (1949) was the History rep. and his extensive research and writing produced the famous black and gold, Come Give A Cheer book. (a few copies still available to purchase from the Archives)

Between 1974 and 1976, Lorimer granted teacher Faith Reimer one spare period a day to pull together the VHS Archives. ‘Old stuff’ had been stored in cupboards, closets, under the stairs, in the attic and many other nooks and crannies around the school. The ‘old stuff’ included boxes of Camosuns, trophies, uniforms, registration cards, exam results, photographs, textbooks, attendance records, and more. It was all gathered up and stored in a spare room off the Andrews gym.

Faith Reimer taught English and Social Studies and had no experience in archive work so she enlisted her son Derek Reimer (1965) who worked in the Provincial Archives and he helped her to set up a basic system to accession (catalogue) what was in the store room. At this early stage Faith also sent a request out to past graduates and teachers to donate pertinent historical items to the collection and materials flowed in.

Archives’ Volunteers Help Produce the 1976 Centennial
The elaborate and wonderfully organized Centennial Celebration was held in May 1976 and was an ‘over the top’ success. The offspring of this celebration were the Come Give A Cheer book celebrating Vic High’s first 100 years, the creation of the Vic High Archives, and the formation of the VHS Alumni Association (VHSAA).

Faith went back to full time teaching but continued with Archive work until she retired in 1980. Little was done with the collection stored in the gym store room until John Boel (1947) attended a meeting to plan a 1994 event commemorating the 80th anniversary of the opening of the current building. Lawrie Wallace was once again chairing the organizing committee. He asked John to resurrect the Archives and John agreed to take on the job, because in his words “saying NO to Lawrie was like saying NO to God”.

The collection, still stored in the gym store room, was moved into Room 105 which became the dedicated Archives public space. John enlisted 2 dedicated volunteers, June (Short) Ferguson and Catherine (Kay) Firth, both 1946 grads. These 3 volunteers sorted and organized the materials onto shelving built by Fairey Tech students under the direction of shop teacher Fred Packford (1948).

Archives’ Official Opening
In preparation for the official opening of the Vic High Archives in 1996, these dedicated volunteers also created the photo gallery that hung on the north and south walls of the Roper Gym running track until its removal for 2020-2022 building upgrades. Packford also built the oak and plexiglass frames that enclosed the photo collection.

The official opening of the Archives also marked the 120th year of VHS (1876). The 120th year program lists several dignitaries attending the ceremony in the Auditorium – the Lieutenant Governor, the local MP, David Anderson (1955), the Mayor, the School Board Chair Donna (Cranton) Jones (1957) and others.

In a speech delivered at the opening, alumni Dr. Peter Smith recalls that after the CCC wrapped up he spoke to Willard Ireland, then the Provincial Archivist, and suggested the VHS collection be transferred to the Royal B.C.Museum. Mr. Ireland agreed that the VHS collection was important but he felt it should be housed and exhibited in the school that owned it, where it would be perpetually guarded and preserved by the Vic High Alumni Association.

Many volunteers have stepped up to help out over the years. Jim Connor (retired VHS steam engineer and custodian), Frank Taylor (1955), Peter Denby (PE, computer teacher and school librarian, 1980-1997), Gary Jones (Vice Principal, 1992-1996) and his wife Valerie Jones, Peter Smith (1949). In addition to writing the official history of Vic High’s first 100 years, Peter then volunteered in the Archives from 2002 until his untimely death in 2006.

Gary and Valerie Jones produced and dedicated 2 jumbo 3-ringed binders of students who died in WW I and WWII. The Commonwealth Graves Commission assisted with their research. These fabulous binders are accessioned into the Archives.

Family Volunteer Tradition Continues
In June 2006, Jill Wallace (1966) came to volunteer. She was a walking VHS encyclopedia with VHS in her veins, probably inherited from her father Lawrie Wallace. She was still active until she passed away in 2011. Anne Boldt (1967) started in 2009-2015 and returned in 2019 to carry on as Archives Co-ordinator. Debbie (Parkinson) Blackie (1967) came on board in 2010 and was there until her untimely death in 2019. Linda Smith(1967) joined Debbie to design and build the Archive displays and photo collages around the school and worked on displays for the 100 Anniversary for the school building in 2014.

In 2007, Ken Roueche (1963) spent many hours researching and writing the history of Fairey Tech, calling the project Fairey Tech – the Other Vic High. His work is incomplete but has been accessioned for another researcher and writer to finish.

Allan (Fergie) Andison (1968) spent four summers photographing the school ‘the way it was’ pre-seismic upgrade 2020-2022. His wonderful photographs are published in a new Vic High 2020 photo book, (available for sale on this site) and his virtual tours and photos will continue to be added to this website.

Barrie Moen (1969) has researched and written many Tales from the Attic (posted on this website), Shirley (Beecham) Kasper (1969) scanned the entire collection of Camosuns to make available digitally, and Eric Earl (1969) converted Camosun scans into easily-viewed files and contributes hundreds of hours of tech wizardry creating videos and other digital records.

More recent volunteers have also included Elise Polkinghorne, Kathleen MacDonald (1973), and Anne McKeachie (1968). Linda Baker (1969) helped with cataloguing and packing up the collections to be stored during the seismic upgrade, and she and Fergie created the Vic High 2020 photo book.

Archives on the Move Again
After the 125th Anniversary (May 2001) the Archives moved again to Room 100 just north of the Foods Lab. It remained there until 2011 when the new Fairey Tech addition was built. Once again the Archives moved around the corner to another room 100, this time across from the Foods lab. It remained there until the big pack-up in June 2020 for the seismic upgrade. All 350 boxes in the collection as well as furnishings are now stored in temporary lockers in the Fairey Tech concourse until 2022.

On June 1st, 2010, after a 36 year involvement with the VHS Archives a tea was held to honor Faith Reimer and Room 100 was named the Faith Reimer Room. Faith had personally accessioned 1837 manuscripts, photos, artifacts and books into the VHS Archive collection.

In 2012, the Alumni Association and the Archives were honoured by the B.C. Historical Federation for strengthening and preserving the heritage and archives of Victoria High School, for the next and future generations.
While the Archives room itself was named after Reimer, in 2020 the VHSAA voted to update the Archives’ name to the Vic High Archives & Museum to better reflect its actual collections, displays and operation.

While these school-owned collections are in safe storage during the seismic upgrade, volunteers remain busy setting up a searchable database of the cataloging records, making future searches not so dependent on a volunteer’s memory!

And of course, we’re very excited about our new space in the updated Vic High, just inside the expanded Fernwood Street entrance, with more storage in the basement. We’re looking forward to unpacking and setting up these precious archived collections and opening the doors to everyone!

Submitted by Anne Boldt ( 1967)

Remembering Debbie Blackie

Debbie Blackie, Passionate Archives Volunteer
by Barrie Moen

An unexpected shadow was cast over the Vic High Archives on August 27, 2019 with the sudden passing of Archives volunteer Debbie Blackie (nee Parkinson, VHS 1967). A passionate contributor to the growth of the Archives in the past ten years, she was always encouraging volunteers, guests, and donors alike, and visiting the Archives was always a pleasure.

Debbie loved to research any subject associated with Vic High. However, her unique skills were showcased when she and her friend Linda Smith began creating hallway displays featuring historic and contemporary photos, images and articles of clothing from school clubs and teams. Their artefact shadow-box displays, featured in a variety of areas in the school, were of museum quality, and because of a limited budget, the expense was often covered from their own pockets.

Debbie also developed the idea of a page on the Vic High Alumni website (www.vichigh.com) called “Tales from the Attic,” to publish intriguing articles offering further insight into the history of the school.

A skilled negotiator, Debbie approached me offering the opportunity to write some articles for the new website feature.

“What does it pay?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she replied.
“Well, if you can double that, I might be interested,” I countered.
“I believe I can convince the Alumni Association to find those funds,” she surmised, and an unusual literary friendship blossomed.

At her memorial service, it became obvious that Debbie was well loved by her associates during her 35 years within the Greater Victoria hospital system. As one speaker mentioned, Debbie was a private person who treated her various groups of friends with empathy and respect. However, the speaker noted, in order to avoid any conflicts she never allowed any cross-pollination of these groups, so the speaker was overjoyed at the large, diverse crowd gathered to honour Debbie’s life.

Anne Boldt (VHS 1967) and Kathleen McDonald (VHS 1973), with the assistance of Alumni Board member Anne McKeachie (VHS 1968), will now take on the duties of accessioning and organizing the VHS Archives for temporary storage during the seismic upgrading of the school. Setting up the new Vic High Archives and Museum will be much anticipated, with the school’s commitment to expanding the space for these precious articles and to ensuring easy public accessibility.

We know the new Vic High Archives and Museum area will reflect Debbie’s diligent spirit, best summed up in her usual Tuesday morning greeting in the Archives: “Oh, there you are. What have you been up to? I have something for you to do.”

Barrie Moen (VHS 1969) is also a dedicated Archives volunteer.
You can find a link to Deb’s newspaper obit under the News tab (In Memoriam – Grads and Supporters).


Finding Their Way to the Stars

Finding Their Way to the Stars. A profile of two Fairfield boys who became internationally known physicists, and who inspired a new interest in astronomy at present-day Vic High. by Barrie Moen (VHS 1969)

Happy or Helsinki?

Happy or Helsinki? In preparation for the 1952 Olympics in Finland, the Canadian Olympic Association invited Vic High grad Norma Stewart to Montreal to train for Canada’s swim team. But for Norma, this presented an agonizing choice! by Helen Raptis (VHS 1980)

The Play’s the Thing

The Play’s the Thing. An illustrated history of Shakespeare productions in the new Vic High Auditorium during World War I. by Stephanie Ann Warner

Vic High and Ice Hockey

Vic High and Ice Hockey. A review of the early history of ice-hockey in Victoria and particularly at Victoria High School. by Barrie Moen (VHS 1969)

Mr. Smith’s Walking Stick

Mr. Smith’s Walking Stick. In 1893 a group of Vic High students presented their departing teacher with an engraved silver-handled walking stick — and now it’s come home from Alberta! A true treasure that even our Archives volunteers didn’t know existed. by Barrie Moen (VHS 1969) with design by Eric Earl (VHS 1968)

Grads in the Attic

Grads in the Attic. A place of history and mystery! Take a virtual tour of the attic to find your name, or to take the tour you never got to experience. Photos by Syvia Michalewicz, digitized by Eric Earl (VHS 1968)

A Brief (Video) History of Vic High

A Brief (Video) History of Vic High. This 5-minute video was made by Camosun College students about 1990. Digitized by Eric Earl (VHS 1968) and Kal Czotter (VHS 1972)

VHS Band Trip, 1965, to Clinton BC

Read Stephen Fawcett’s brief memoir of the trip.

Sewing Club, Pep Meetings and Noon Dances, One Girl’s Senior Matric Year in 1940-41

Sewing Club, Pep Meetings and Noon Dances, One Girl’s Senior Matric Year in 1940-41. Ethel Rowe graduated from Vic High in 1941. Her granddaughter Stephanie Warner recently uncovered Ethel’s high-school pictures and 1940-1941 Camosun yearbook. She came to the Vic High Archives to learn more about Ethel’s Grade 12 year and about school culture at that time. by Stephanie Ann Warner.

Cumby’s Ghost

Cumby’s Ghost. He was perhaps the most accomplished high-school coach that no one’s ever heard of. Is that why his ghost might still walk the halls of Vic High? by Barrie Moen (VHS 1969)

Archive Treasure 1884

Archive Treasure 1884. It was probably a Christmas present: a delicate hand-painted autograph book used by a Vic High girl from 1884 to 1887. Recently it was donated to our collection by her granddaughters. by the Archives team

The Block V

The Block V. Have you ever wondered why you didn’t receive a Block V? This intriguing story explains what accomplishments were needed and what  the associated number meant. by the Archives team

Victoria High School in the 1950s

Victoria High School in the 1950s. A Vic High grad recalls some of the influences that led to his successful career as a particle physicist, in an article originally written for “Vic High 125” in 2001. by A.J. Stewart Smith (VHS 1955)

A Thomson Cup Comes Home

A Thomson Cup Comes Home The BC Boys Rugby Championship Trophy that Vic High won during the 1925-1926 school year is donated to the Archives. by Barrie Moen (VHS 1969)

A Time for T.

A Time for T. Why do all the Vic High team names begin with T? A simple question leads our Archives volunteer on a search through Vic High’s athletic glory of the first half of the 20th century, culminating one of the most bizarre basketball games the Vic High boys ever played! by Barrie Moen (VHS 1969)

The Jacket from Vic High

The Jacket from Vic High  A recent email request to our Archives uncovered this story about a boy from England whose life was changed by coming to Vic High for one year (1968-69). by Geoff Bell

Fire at Will

Fire at Will  A true tale about the danger of hanging out in the old attic back in ’44.  The adventure of  “Sylvia Corbett and the Whistling Bullet.” by Barrie Moen (VHS 1969)

Artifacts in the Air Ducts

Artifacts in the Air Ducts Not all artifacts are found in grid-marked diggings by archaeologists toiling in the sun. Some can be found with a glance in the right direction at Vic High. by Barrie Moen (VHS 1969)

The Lost Boys of ’67

The Lost Boys of ’67 “This year is sure to be the best yet,” said George “Porky” Andrews.  A look back at the best BC high-school basketball team team that never was, and the only national high-school basketball championship that ever occurred in Canada. by Barrie Moen (VHS 1969)

Remembering Lieutenant Frank Constant Hall

Remembering Lieutenant Frank Constant Hall  A tale of remembrance and personal sacrifice. A reminder of the brave soldiers whose names appear on the memorial in the entrance foyer of Victoria High School. by Barrie Moen (VHS 1969)

The Lost Key

The Lost Key  A tale of the opening day celebrations at Victoria High School and the presentation of a ceremonial key to the front entrance. by Barrie Moen (VHS 1969)

Alumni Oral History

Some current Vic High students recently interviewed grads from the 1930s to ’70s, in a project celebrating the City of Victoria’s 150th anniversary. Click Here to see the results.

The Great War Project

The present Vic High building opened in 1914, the same year that the Great War began, and its early years were dominated by Canada’s coming-of-age in that unprecedented conflict. Students cultivated a “victory garden” where the grass hockey field is now, and many students and teachers joined up and went overseas. The beautiful war memorials in Vic High’s main hall always impress visitors to the school.

As the 100th anniversary of the war approached, there was an upsurge of interest in Vic High’s wartime experiences. In 2012 our avenue of memorial trees, originally planted in 1917, was replanted and rededicated. That same year, we were honoured to present a graduation certificate to one of school’s Japanese-Canadian students who had been denied this opportunity in 1942. (See stories in both our newsletter and bulletin dated Spring 2012, under the News tab above.)

The Alumni Association’s “Great War Project” was launched in 2013 by Dr. Barry Gough, the Association’s chair and an eminent Canadian historian, at a national conference in Ottawa. Here is a video of his presentation.

The Great War Project culminated in book, published in November 2014, titled From Classroom to Battlefield: Victoria High School and the First World War, written by Barry Gough. Digital and print editions are now available: for further information, click on the “New Book” link at the right of this screen.

Dr. Barry Gough is a Vic High grad (VHS 1956) who returned to the school as a teacher in 1960s. Barry later established an impressive career teaching Canadian history at Wilfrid Laurier University, before retiring to Victoria in 2004. He has published many books on Canadian history, mostly in the area of maritime history. His recent books include Fortune’s a River: The Collision of Empires in Northwest America (2007) and Juan de Fuca’s Strait: Voyages in the Waterway of Forgotten Dreams (2012).

Mrs Evans Takes the Baton

Mrs Evans Takes the Baton
by Denis Johnston (VHS 1967)

 John C. Newbury – Head of His Class

John C. Newbury – Head of His Class
(Vic High’s and Western Canada’s First Governor General’s Medal Winner)
by John Adams and Denis Johnston (both VHS 1967)