We asked alumni in our May 2023 newsletter how you would describe your Vic High experiences.
Carol (Yakimovich) Jones, VHS 1961
Carol loved Vic High even before she was a student there!
My first memory was before I actually attended Vic High. My boyfriend, Ken Jones, who many years later became my husband, attended Vic High and he wanted to invite me as his date to the dance. At that time only Vic High students could attend, but he was determined. He first had to get permission from the principal who asked that both his parents and my parents sign a permission slip. It was granted! Oh how excited I was! I was at SJ Willis at the time and to go to a dance at the ‘big’ school was thrilling. I got a new dress, and gussied up as best as I could and eagerly awaited for him to come calling. He borrowed his parents’ car and came to the front door with a corsage. When we entered the dance each girl was given a dance card. Ken filled in the first dance and last dance with his name and said to feel free to dance with others. There was a spot dance and dancing with Ken we were in the right spot and won! I was so excited. That was an evening I’ll always remember, although there were many wonderful memories once I attended Vic High.
Ken graduated in 1962, but I don’t think he had his photo taken. (Ed note: We couldn’t find him in the Camosun.) We got married a month before my graduation in 1964 (no, I wasn’t pregnant!) By this time Ken was in the armed forces and was going overseas and we needed time for paperwork and our shots. I did graduate through Camosun a couple of years later. My dear Ken passed away 10 years ago, so this is about the most recent photo I have of the two of us together.
Wayne Chew, VHS 1954
I graduated in 1954 and was an honour student. My greatest memory is being a table tennis champion during my years at Vic High. I have 14 trophies! Mr. Smith was the principal and I really liked him, but my fondest memory was my homeroom teacher, Mr. Drummond, who always called me ‘Mr. Chew’. My sister, Ann, 8 years younger, also attended Vic High.
(Many thanks, Carol Jones, for reaching out to Wayne and getting his memories and permission to share them.)
Judy Gill, VHS 1960, said: The story of ten of us Vic High friends and our amazing 67 year friendship is on the Alumni website (here). We believe it was the spirit of Vic High that has kept us together all these years.
Robin Farquhar, VHS 1956, sent us this: I would describe my Vic High experience (1952-56) as four years of golden times, each one characterized by brightness and beauty, immediate value promising eventual prosperity, with pleasure in its worth and gratitude for its being — the gold standard for secondary education at the time, deserving of the gold medal for a wise investment of our time, and gilded with the good luck of being there at that time. One of our official colours is well chosen, indeed.
It was so eloquent we interviewed him and posted his story here.
The Old Ice Cream Parlour
by Linda Baker, VHS 1969
Maralyn Becker, VHS 1951, asked in the May 2023 newsletter about an ice cream parlour near Vic High. Denis Johnston, VHS 1967 and staff, Alan Mallett, VHS 1966, and Rick Foster, VHS 1967, all wondered if Maralyn was thinking about the Northwestern Creamery location on Yates near Cook, (where I remember you could get the best milkshakes!) But Ruth Ferne, VHS 1966 and Jack Inkpen, VHS 1951, both think Maralyn is remembering the Fernwood Pharmacy’s ice cream counter.
Ruth says: It wasn’t an ice cream parlour, it was a pharmacy. The Fernwood Pharmacy. It had an ice cream counter in the drugstore. It was across from Vic High and down about half a block. I’m sure many alumni will remember this.
Photo courtesy of Victoria Archives
Jack says: There was a drugstore across the street from the school on Fernwood St. that had a small soda fountain, but the meeting place that I remember was Johnny’s Cafe around the corner from there (on Gladstone St.). It was always packed with us kids during noon hour and after school. One could hardly see through the cigarette smoke as we listened to our favourite songs on the jukebox and played Bill Smith’s pinball machine for free games. Joe Andrews, our Phys Ed teacher, would sometimes drop in to give detentions to those he caught smoking. I saw him coming one day and ran in before him yelling, “Jiggers, Joe” He found no one smoking but gave me a detention which consisted of transferring me to his all-girl health class and assigning me to read the embarrassing lesson when he had to leave the room. What a detention! I loved it!
Sally (Whitehouse) Miller, VHS 1966
I graduated in 1966. I have been back a couple of times over the years to the school and once to the big centennial celebration in 1976. One experience that has stayed with me is my year with math teacher Mr. Francis. I struggled with math in grade 10 so I had the joy of repeating the course. I was very lucky to get Mr. Francis. I passed the course that year, but more than that I learned from him to persevere, and that if explaining things one way doesn’t work, try another one. His kindness always stayed with me. He would bring a record player to class and put on a record, nothing 60’s, more classical, but things like that weren’t done back then. He was a great teacher.
Jerry Bone, VHS 1952
When an alumnus sends you a story that starts with this image, and the caption: Portrait of me painting figures that are painting me. A Zen question for Islay Ferguson: Who started painting first? , you know the story will be a good one. Jerry’s work, and memories, were so interesting, we wrote a whole story about him! Check it out here.
Carolyn (Lesyk) McLaughlin, VHS 1974
I can’t believe I can still have this special feeling about this high school and friends and all we were to each other. My favourite place was the Art Room with Mr. Hemming, Volunteering in the kitchen was fun but doing my Art in the Art room was the best place ever. Art is a way of life for me. I sketch and paint in watercolour, acrylic and oil. My family home was in Fairfield. I was disappointed I missed our reunion last year, just couldn’t swing it. I enjoy the newsletter.
Gloria Rocha-Taylor, VHS 1988
My favorite hangout spot was the bleachers in the back of the school facing the running track (weather permitting)…we were smokers back then & that was the only spot where we could go to smoke lol….I quit smoking in 2002…other than that, my other favorite hangout spot was my locker & having fries & gravy at the Fernwood Inn.
Margaret Goodwin, VHS 1964
My favourite hang-out place at Vic High was the attic, where the Social Committee met, planned, yakked & made decorations and posters for various events. We kind of felt like we were a secret society, and I remember the curious looks of other students watching us climb all those stairs. This would have been between 1961 & 1963.
Good friends from 1964 meet regularly for lunch. L to R: June (Martin) Perry, Margaret Goodwin, Dorothy (Dutton) Chuhran, Elizabeth Hanan, Helen (Kelley) Edwards, Marlene (Farmer) Purdy.
Dawn Quast, VHS 1965
I was (and still am) a band geek, so the band room was my favourite spot to hang out. I took band class with teacher Rod Sample, which by grade 12 was daily, 45 minutes, first thing in the day, plus rehearsals Monday evening, and Tuesday and Thursday mornings. In addition to the band, the Greater Victoria Schools Orchestra, under teacher Dorothy Evans, practiced in the same space, so I found a way to get involved there too, for the three years I was at Vic High. The brass and wind players were only allowed one year since the few spots were so coveted. I managed to get the 2nd Oboe seat in grade 10, then in grade 11 I talked my way into a percussion spot, and then back to 2nd oboe in grade 12. I loved being in the band room, and every time I’ve been back in the school since I graduated in 1965 I’ve found my way back to my favourite hangout spot.
Suzanne (Baker) James, VHS 1971
Suzanne and her family were in a terrible car crash in 1965, and Suzanne spent much of the next few years coping with mobility issues and brain damage. Her faith and her love of music kept her going. But when Norfolk House wasn’t a good fit for her, she turned to family friend Duncan Lorimer who immediately welcomed her into Vic High. Her book, Another Sound of Music, chronicles how she overcame the challenges arising from that terrible crash. It’s available to borrow from the Vic High Library – Alumni Collection, or from Suzanne at 250-474-6506.
“At Victoria High School, my personality changed overnight! No more was I awash in pity and self-degradation…After filling out my (Vic High) registration form, Mr. Lorimer introduced me to the school’s music teacher – and my joy was complete! Except for one lunch break, my recollection of the next two and a half months was having an enormous smile on my face. To my utter amazement, boys even approached my locker to ask me for my home phone number! The highest point in my life has to be my graduation from Vic High. My leg was in a cast but receiving my diploma from Mr. Lorimer was one of the happiest and proudest days of my life. I’d graduated despite my difficulties, and knew my parents were very proud of me.
PS Suzanne’s sister JoMarie, is married to well-known plastic surgeon Dr. David Naysmith, VHS 1967, a long-time supporter of Vic High and the Alumni who also teaches an elective Hand Anatomy course for Vic High students which is open to alumni as well.
Tore Valdal, VHS 1970 gave us names of some of the boys in this crazy photo.
There were a few Totems in this picture. Far left is Jan Bentley. Maybe Dave Mulcahy and Mike Chornoby. Yes, it was James Scott in the skirt. There is another picture of the guys in the ’69 Camosun. From the grad photos info other members are Dan Wallis, Barrie Moen, Ian MacLean Doug Puritch, Ron Dworski, Steve Carroll, Ken Lomas, Terry Jordan, Gerry Vanderjagt, Brian Henry. (grade 11 members: Mel Sangha, Bob Hope, Don Wilson).
The ’70 Camosun grads info include Mel Sangha, Bruce Gower, Dave Osborne, Rod Quin, Keith James, Mike Waberski, George Biggs, Brian Dunn, Wayne O’Malley, Mike Turner, John Hamilton, Doug Cunliffe, Roger La Salle, Hans De Goede, Greg Hall and Paul Scott.
Patti (Sunderland) Hubble, VHS 1959
Patti sent us this great memory…
High school is tough! Especially if you are shy and insecure. I transferred to Vic High from the East coast, a year ahead and in grade 10 at age 14. I was scared to death, and got lost in hallways, and couldn’t find my locker! I didn’t come up through the ranks of junior high like so many others who were giddy to meet old friends on first day. I was miserable.
However, I made friends and joined groups, even had a boyfriend, did okay academically, and after three years managed to graduate…in 1959. That’s when I really appreciated Victoria High, and was proud to be part of the school, as I am today to be a Vic High Alumni.
It was at my 30 year reunion that I really felt a part of the school. Greeting so many friends from way-back-when, some of whom I discovered felt as I had in those years. The hunks from high school didn’t seem so hunky anymore, and the divas less diva-ish….we were all just former students. I was surprised that anyone remembered me, and it was so empowering, and uplifting, and fulfilling to reconnect.
So there you go! Three years in a teenager’s life…the good, the bad, and the wonderfully formative! Now I look back on those Vic High days with such affection, and I’m grateful that I was a small part of such an iconic institution!
Cheerleaders – Black & Gold Tartan
It’s confirmed. The 1969-70 cheerleaders were the first to wear the black and gold tartan skirts. The 1968-69 and 1967-68 cheerleaders had to make their own uniforms. The 1969-70 cheerleaders were known as the Tom-Toms, because they definitely had the best pom pom shakers! We heard from Marita Kuehn and Paula Smith, VHS 1971. Here’s Paula’s memories:
I’m pretty sure we started wearing the tartan skirts 1969-70, the year after the Totems had beaten their arch rival, Oak Bay Bays, in basketball and won the BC Championship. School spirit was high. We felt pretty cool in our cheerleading uniforms… we had the best pom-poms too! I have vivid memories of the electric excitement in the gym on Friday game nights with the Pep Band playing as the basketball team ran in from the “old gym”. We cheerleaders and the fans, packing the bleachers, all belting out Come Give a Cheer. Such happy memories.
I also remember that in 70-71 the boys soccer team was very successful as was the rugby team. Such a fun time to be a cheerleader! I look back so fondly on my years at Vic High- the school that both my mother (Ida Clarkson) and older sister (Cathy Clarkson) attended. I love that I am part of the history of such a wonderful Victoria icon.
We know the photo in the newsletter wasn’t super clear. The one in the 1975 Camosun we scanned wasn’t great either, and no names were listed. However – Rick Griffin, VHS 1975 says the photo was taken at a soccer game at Royal Athletic Park in 1974. Tammy Slater says she’s the cheerleader on the far left and Mary Anne Skill is next to her. And Michelle Amyotte Smith thinks Karen, Grade 11, is at the far end. So far, so good! If you can identify anyone else, let us know.
‘Back in the day’, Majorettes and their batons performed routines to drum beats and Cheerleaders led the crowd in cheers for the team. Thanks to Pat Clark, VHS 1965, Brenda Stephen, Lee Langton, and Phyllis Kersey, VHS 1966, and JoAnne Botten, VHS 1968 for help with Majorette names. The 1966 Camosun named 14 of the 15 in the photo but not in order. We think the missing name is Carol Crowther? Digitized Camosuns are on our website. Here’s the link to the 1966 Camosun.
Top row L to R: Carol Hillyer, Vicky Eastwood, Marlene Dahl, Donna Hanowski, ———–,Gail Farrar. Front row L to R: Linda Brock, Pat Batters, Cheryl Cook, Theresa Meikle, Lee Hunt, Joy Van Buskirk, Donna Ball, Christine Kidson. Kneeling is Val Hays.
PS Phyllis also pointed out that the Class of 1966 has never had a grad class photo on the wall. Well that’s being corrected. When Vic High reopens and grad class photos are rehung, there will be a large collage of head shots of every grad in the 1966 Camosun. Thanks, Eric Earl, Class of 1969, for putting that together.
Gwen L’Hirondelle, VHS 1967
One of my favourite memories of Duncan Lorimer is his piping in the main hallway. I think it was on the last school day before Remembrance Day. All teachers would open the classroom doors and Mr. Lorimer would walk the hallway that ran perpendicular to the main entrance, piping a lament as he walked. He of course was in kilts for the occasion.
Maggie Cox, VHS 1964 & Math/French Teacher 1972-77
Maggie has lived in Langley for many years, and particularly remembers Duncan Lorimer, the Vic High Vice-Principal when she was a student, and Principal when she taught there. It was a great privilege to work with him when I taught there.
January 2023 newsletter we asked: When you think of Vic High, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Brian Hodgson, VHS 1965
In response to our question Brian writes: Very simply – School Spirit!
Michaele (Prior) Freeman, VHS 1961
Michaele’s response to our question:
…Dorothy Evans, Greater Victoria School’s Orchestra
…Mr. Mayne, Socials teacher
…Eating lunch on the lawn
…The stairs when I had a cast on my leg
…Bill Hoyt having a cast on his leg at the same time so teachers gave us a five minute headstart between classes
…Missing Vic High so much when my father was posted to Ottawa for my last year of school
Alix (Esselmont) Sutton, VHS 1960
We definitely appreciate your appreciation, Alix. It’s not hard to tell Alix was a Majorette at Vic High. Such enthusiasm!
Congratulations on a fabulous January newsletter! I just spent an hour reading every word. It’s so full of interesting stories, and each issue gets fuller and fuller. I like how I can choose which stories to read and just click through. The Memories page was very interesting, and the Donor List with so many people contributing. People realize how special and unique Vic High is. Maybe it’s the classic building, and maybe it’s all those people who went on to become successful in their chosen field. Opportunity was and is there and top-notch administrations and teachers encouraged their students to think beyond the box, grab the torch! In my era, economic growth caused expansion. The youth wave, the music and fashion were a-changing. It was exciting and there were opportunities for everyone to grab! Opportunities are always there, no matter what. It takes a team. Vic High always had and still has a strong, supportive, visionary team to encourage the students. Come give a cheer!
Bud Squair, VHS 1950
Bud has a lot of memories of his days at Vic High. Thanks, Bud, for sharing them with us.
I remember that my closest friend at Vic High was Norman Alexander, apparently the only black kid there. We made strange noises to each other when we passed in the hall. We were in Scouts together and one time we were both doing something downtown, in our Scout uniforms. A mom came by with her small son – he looked at me and then looked at Norm – then he said “mommy – is that a cowboy?” Norm sent me a facial expression that clearly told me he was unhappy with the comment.
I also recall one day when our teacher was away, [Principal) H. L. [Smith] came to the room and started to entertain us with his memory collection of classical poetry. We stumped him with “Casey at the Bat”.
Another recollection – Winsome Smith taught Grade 10 biography. I recalled a reference entitled “contagious abortion in cows”. I stuck up my hand and asked her about the topic. She replied “why don’t you do some research and come back and tell us?”
One time Norm and I were out in the “bush” and I jumped into a pool of water, only to find that it was deeper than I had expected. Norm saw my flailing and immediately jumped into the water to calm me down.
After graduation, I worked in Alberta and Norm worked in B.C. One time Betty and I drove out to visit one of her several relatives on the mainland. When we got home, there was a message from a woman on the phone. Norm had passed away and wanted me at his funeral. I read that Norm’s great-grandparents had come up to Saanich and built a church – now it is part of the United Church of Canada.
I was thinking of one more story – I did not “date” in the normal sense – because I delivered the Victoria Daily Times and I delivered groceries for a little grocery store near where we lived at 906 Empress and 2405 Quadra (same building). But sometimes there would be a school function – and I once took Shirley Heinrichs ( now Shirley Tripp) to the school. Much later at a reunion, she was there with her husband and she said “do you remember I was your first date and do you remember that you walked around the block before you had nerve enough to ring the doorbell? I said “yes”.
right after the “Japanese” submarine surfaced off the west coast of Vancouver Island and fired 25 shots with its deck gun, our teacher was commenting. I stuck up my hand and explained that our family friend had been in charge of the landing party that went ashore to check on the damage. He told us that there was no damage at all – and the unexploded shells were American. He concluded that the two governments had cooperated on this event to generate more war bond sales. Our teacher did not reply, just looked over everyone.
Dennis Tupman, VHS 1954, Ruth Sones, VHS 1953
Cheering for Vic High Until the End
Dennis Tupman died recently, the year after his wife Ruth (Sones) Tupman died. Married 65 years, Dennis and Ruth met when cast opposite each other as the leads in the Vic High musical ‘Rose of the Danube’ and loved singing together all their lives. A lifelong music educator and arts advocate, Dennis was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws by UVic and the Governor Generals Award for Lifetime Arts Leadership. Dennis’ love for Ruth shone through as he shared with us that the last song he and Ruth sang together before she died was Vic High’s Come Give A Cheer, bringing them full circle to the Vic High start of it all. We hope they’re together now, still singing their hearts out.
Here’s the family’s video of Ruth and Dennis singing Come Give A Cheer,. Dennis is there, just in the background.
Mary Ashworth, VHS 1970 Remembers Greg Hall, Someone Who Left Too Soon
I read every word of every Alumni newsletter, they bring back memories. Greg Hall is someone I remember. He was killed while at a racetrack in Ontario while on vacation there, at least that’s what I heard from our student ‘jungle drums’ around the time. Apparently he was enjoying drag car races and never made it back to his Vic High desk again!. Greg Hall – blonde-y hair, blue eyes, a Beta Boy.But he’s in the Camosun (which goes to press several months before the end of the school year). So that’s good. He was a great guy with a lot of big dreams and lots of potential. Greg’s Camosun entry reads: Greg’s interests include athletics, dancing, and travelling. He belongs to Rugby, Beta, and Parliament. His ambition is to be happy. Greg’s pet peeves are dandelions and apathetic people, Parliament and our P.M. What makes Greg different is that he likes to smile.
1971 Photography Club
Thanks very much to these alert alumni for identifying members of the 1970-71 Photography Club: Adrienne Chan, VHS 1968, David Harris, VHS 1971, Rob Salmon, VHS 1971, Kent Wong, VHS 1971. Click here for the story, with photo caption now included.
Penny Devlin, VHS 1959 Remembers Enacting The 12 Days of Christmas
We couldn’t quite gather the 78 people the song needed, but a group of us performed The 12 Days of Christmas. In costume, of course, depicting the various animals and people. Miss Douglas thought it was very respectable even though we were a few people short for some of the days. Nobody was counting! We just didn’t have enough people to get the right amount for each category. But the audience loved it so that was all that really mattered. So many memories.
Dawn Quast, VHS 1965 and the Santa Claus Band
Christmas 1963, the Santa Claus band, entertaining at the Hudson Bay’s Pancake Breakfast. We were from the Vic High Band. Lots of fun and great pay – $5 per Saturday morning, per person!
Left to Right: Peter Wharton, Karline Wymore, Santa, B. Dawn Eby Quast, Colin Bonneau, Helen Williams, and Doris Miller (seated in front).
Barbara (Walton) and Bob Carrie, VHS 1963 and 1962
My husband and I both graduated from Vic high. He graduated in 1962 and I graduated in 1963. Not only did we not meet at Vic High we do not remember ever seeing each other at school. I was into sports and the band. I’m not sure what interested him. We met at UVic in 1963 and have been happily married , living in Campbell River for 55 years.
Michaele (Prior) Freeman, VHS 1961
Michaele was in the music programme with Dorothy Evans and the Greater Victoria Schools Orchestra. She played the violin at Margaret Jenkins Elementary starting in Grade 4, then at Oak Bay Junior High, then Vic High for grades 10 and 11.
My dad was posted to Ottawa so I finished high school there, switching to vocal as they only had a band and it was the worst I’d ever heard! However, the band leader was a wonderful choral leader and I had a solo in the School Musical that year… I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair!
I didn’t play the violin for fifty years, but took it up again and “fiddled” with Daniel Lapp’s Folkestra for a number of years here in Victoria. I’ve taught myself to play the harmonica (not that great, but I can play a few tunes), and have a great interest in music. The years at school in the Music Programme were invaluable to my life! The value of Music as part of the Arts is a no brainer! It’s good for the brain, it’s good for the soul. You meet wonderful people and, as I have shown, you can pick it up again in later years for great enjoyment. I support Music in the school system BIG TIME!!! And here’s an extra note…four generations of my family attended Victoria High School.
My father (who served with the Navy in World War II) — Stanley Robert William Prior
Myself — Michaele Elizabeth Prior (now Freeman), VHS 1961 (Commercial Program)
Our daughter – Shannon Elizabeth Freeman, VHS 1995
Our son’s two sons (our grandsons) – Vincent Forest Freeman, VHS 2013, Huxley River Freeman, VHS 2013
Rah Rah for Vic High!
Michaele’s dad was born in the upstairs bedroom of Prior’s Grocery and Confectionary Store at James Bay, Menzies and Superior, run by his parents. Later and for many years it was the James Bay Tearoom, and now it’s Floyd’s Diner. Michaele is a traditional rug hooker and recently created a rug from an old circa 1925 photo of the building, with her dad, and her Nanna and Grandad in the image.
Erin (Darling) Hallett, VHS 1994
Thank you for your e-newsletter, which I look forward to every month. I now have a career in alumni relations as Director of Alumni and External Engagement at Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge (UK). I have so many wonderful memories of the two years I spent at Vic High. The school helped me develop my confidence and feel positive about myself. Jackie, our much-loved theatre teacher, was the main reason behind this and I spent so many happy hours in her company and in her classes. I had the privilege of stage managing one of her shows and taking it to the Island drama festival. I will never forget Jackie’s kindness or support. Thank you, and all my best to everyone in the Vic High community.
Nancy (Bates) Laughy, VHS 1981
My favourite class was Woodworking. We learned to make furniture from our own drawings. I made an end table which is still used today. A friend and I both made baby cradles from the plans we drew. My cradle was slept in by both my children and my nieces and nephews. I still have it and maybe one day a grandchild will too. I found this breadboard while cleaning out my mom’s kitchen. It was broken and my brother was going to toss t but I recognized it as the one I made her in Grade 11 for Mother’s Day. This is maybe why she kept it, even though it was in two pieces. I took it home and glued it together like we were taught by Mr. Somers, and now it’s as good as new and I’m able to use it.
Jean (Tulk) Roberts, VHS 1965
I really liked Social Studies at Vic High. I had Mr Vernon and used to talk to him after class a lot. Since school, I have continued art and sewing and am an artist now. I have also continued my dancing as a hobby doing Hawaiian and tap, and I practise yoga and Tai Chi as well. I am involved in the United church and support art groups and the Senior Centre. I was also a big sister for a year and a member of a women’s group and 15 years as a Block Parent. (Busy lady! Good for you, Jean.)
Penny (Tisdall) Devlin, VHS 1959
Although I was involved in many, many activities, this event has stayed in my mind for all these years.
In 1959, we had a very small but select choir [at Vic High] and were preparing to sing in the school music festival. We were required to sing two pieces – one of the festival’s choice and one of our own choice. The festival choice was “Where ere you Walk” and our choice was the Adoramus Te Christi” in Latin and unaccompanied. No small feat but Miss Douglas never did anything in a small way.
When we were settled, standing on the risers, Miss Douglas looked over at the piano accompanist nodded gently and off we went. We sang well, probably better than ever before, but the real test was to come. Having finished the first piece, we waited for the starting notes for the Adoramus. The four notes came, Miss Douglas raised her arms and we started. When we finished, there was a moment of absolute silence followed by a burst of very satisfying applause. We left the riser, went to our seats in the auditorium, and waited for the adjudicator. When he came up there was a small smile on his face and he said, and I quote: “When I saw you were going to sing the Adoramus I was a bit frightened, and when I realized you were going to sing it with no accompaniment I was terrified, but I have only this to say: ‘You may sing in my church any time you like.’ “. We realized we had won and all burst into tears, at least the girls did. It was such a wonderful moment and we had all worked so hard for it. I was 17 years old at the time and am now 80. It’s like it all happened yesterday. For those of you out there who remember this, I hope you remember it as happily as I do. Much love to you all, Penny.
Nancy (Johnston) Hunter, VHS 1963
Nancy sent us a wonderful memory of classmate Timothy Vernon, and we were so inspired we contacted Timothy and wrote a profile about him. (Click here.) Here’s Nancy’s story:
After three miserable years at a local Jr High I was thrilled to enter Vic High in Grade 10. What a refreshing change it was and I was more than ready to make new friends. My parents, Maurie Johnston and Doris Anderson, were also Vic High grads and my brother, Denis Johnston, [VHS 1967] taught at Vic High in the 80’s, I believe. (Denis taught 1974 – 1980)
Tim Vernon sat behind me in Grade 10 homeroom and even asked me out on a date that year. He knew that I loved to skate so his father drove us to the Memorial Arena for the Ice Capades show. Tim was too young to drive at the time. Mozart was Tim’s favourite composer, and on the anniversary of his death every year Tim would wear a white turtleneck and a black armband symbolizing mourning. He tried very hard to look serious and sad all day, and we all tried hard to make him laugh. He always had a keen interest in conducting and would stand outside the bandroom where the GVSSO rehearsed under the very skilled baton of Dorothy Evans. [I was fortunate to play french horn in that orchestra.] He would ask if he could conduct the orchestra but the answer was always No. Later, Tim spent several years studying conducting in Vienna, and when he returned to Victoria he started the Pacific Opera Company in Victoria. He was later awarded The Order of Canada for his valuable contribution to The Arts.
I remember my mother used to say, “That Tim Vernon, he’s either a nut or a genius.” I think he proved to be the latter. I remember he used to be guest conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and I used to love watching him perform (here in Vancouver where I live), both as a conductor and also as a warm and fascinating communicator with the audience. He’d regale us with stories about the composer and the piece he was about to conduct.
A few years ago my husband and I were in Vienna (on a river cruise of the Danube) and he thought it was a good idea to sign me up to conduct an orchestra in Vienna. The last time I did any conducting (which I loved) was in Jr High as I had been appointed student conductor for outdoor concerts in my Grade 9 year (1959). I was a little apprehensive since it cost a fortune and I didn’t know if I had the nerve to do it. Well it turned out to be such a good experience that the conductor asked me to conduct a piece that evening in that same concert hall in front of a real audience! I was scared to death. But it went off well after all and my husband took videos. When we got home I couldn’t resist sending these videos to Tim. He sent a lovely reply saying that I got to conduct more in Vienna than he did! True story.
PS … I even remember Tim’s full name which I made my brother, Denis Johnston, memorize when he was a child. Here it is: Timothy James Arthur Kenneth Douglas Bowden Vernon. Now that sounds like a VIP!
Christy (Wilkie) Bowen, VHS 2000
The feeling of history and achievement when going through the doors of Vic High. Looking at all the past grads on the walls. Those are what I miss about being at Vic High.
Bob Darnell, VHS 1954
Bob and his wife Penny (Carlow) Darnell, VHS 1954
A group of myself & friends (Court Haddock, Harvey Gillis, Art Moysychyn, Kent Allen, Reg Simon, Monty Exton & Paul Simpson & a few others) created the “Worm Stomp”. (Definition: a gang of testosterone charged youths, formed in a rotating circle, arms interlocked, stomping feet in unison after a good rain causing worms to rise to the surface.) The only thing raised were the frowning eyebrows of several teachers looking at us from the windows, gravely shaking their heads, thinking “are we witnessing our future generation?”
Another memory was when the same “Testosterone charged group” painted the front steps of Oak Bay High School Gold & Black (VHS colors). This was in retaliation to an OBH gang painting our Goal posts in their color one weekend just prior to a game. I can still hear the loud footsteps stomping down the hall to our classroom, flinging the door open and there, glaring was Principal H.L. Smith (the Bear) calling out our names, front & center and marching us to his Office. We were ordered to go and scrub clean the Oak Bay stairs, removing all traces of our paint and to do this during school hours under the threating glares of OB students. (We got more than just glares, but it was worth it). How “the Bear” knew it was us remains a mystery to this day.
Ahh, 1954 was a great year. Out of our “Gang of 8” there is only myself, Art & Kent still with us.
Gerry Lister, VHS 1967
Gerry loved Vic High Principal Aaron Parker’s speech to the 2022 grads: Fantastic! Heartwarming, and there is reincarnation! Fellow Alumni and Students, you just witnessed Duncan Lorimer! [much-loved Vic High Principal 1966 – 1979]. Wow, I actually sang the School song and had a tear of Joy in my eye and a heart full of what could only be “Vic High and it’s Fabulous Memories!’
When I returned from playing Pro Baseball back East, I was notified by the Victoria Fire Department that my application was accepted ! June 1970 ! I retired as Battalion Fire Chief in 2004 ! That’s the only photo I have in uniform! Hahaha!
Whitey Severson (in photo with Gerry) was a Lacrosse Legend with the Shamrocks. He’d come to Victoria in the 1950s to play lacrosse. He was Deputy Fire Chief in the Victoria Fire Department, my best friend, and godfather to my daughter and son. He also served terms in Saanich and City of Victoria as a municipal Councillor.
Cheers and God Bless! Come Give A Cheer! You’ll never regret it! Nor forget it!
PS Gerry married Vic High alumna Stephanie Trim, VHS 1969. They had two children and many grandchildren. Stephanie passed in 2016 from Alzheimer’s.
Pierce Graham, VHS 1953
I attended VHS in grades ten, eleven and twelve, September 1950 to June 1953. I played first trumpet in the VHS Band under Roland F. Grant when we defeated the world famous Kitsilano Boys Band in open competition in Vancouver. The Kits band had been successful in national and European venues, had enormous community funding, and members up to twenty one years of age. VHS by contrast, had to conduct a series of fundraisers to afford the chartered bus and ferry costs from Victoria to Vancouver, and billeting for all members. When we won, Kitsilano’s famous director, Arthur Delamont, refused to shake the hand of our director, who was probably one of the most humble of gentlemen. Some of the Kits band members actually threatened us after the competition, and we were escorted to our bus. They and their leader had a huge sense of entitlement. They had never before lost. But we won. In fact, we never failed to win a competition from grade eight at Central Junior through Vic High graduation in 1953. I remember being elected to represent the Band in the planning process and present our case for travel ALL THE WAY FROM VICTORIA TO VANCOUVER. School Superintendent JFK English, who was popularly known as the Silver Fox, eventually Provincial Minister of Education, expressed his confidence in our commitment and ability, as well as in our director, Roland Grant. He, by the way, had played cornet in her Majesty’s Coldstream Guards…good credentials. Other Band members included Denny Tupman, Jane Scott from California, Jon McKinnon…
Other great Vic High memories included ”Porky” Andrews and his science experiment and basketball coaching, Harry Smith’s phenomenal memory as he recited Romeo and Juliet in English 91 and remembered my brother from three years earlier, Stan Murphy as my English and French teacher, Mrs Cameron and her love of Emily Carr with whom she had had a personal friendship…all wonderful teachers.
One year I swam for the swim team at the Crystal Gardens. I had wanted to run on the track team and actually had a four and a half minute mile timing, four thirty five, I think. But Don Burgess passed me at the last curve and beat me. I think he set a new local record around 4:20 or so. This was the year before the famous four minute mile, so it was not a trivial accomplishment.
Thanks, and WOW… I was at Central Junior for grades 8 and 9, then VHS….
I also remember I was sent to the office once in three years, and sat while I waited for [Vic High Principal] Mr. Smith to question me about an alleged act of spitting in class. He simply stood in front of me and asked, ”Pierce did you do that?” When I answered, “No, Sir,” he was silent for a moment, then said, “I believe you. You may return to class.” I have often thought of the incident as the power of moral authority. Wonderful stuff, wonderful memories.
Thanks, Vic High. You shaped my career, my life, and my values. Cheers.
Pierce Graham, (retired 1996), Kamloops teacher of English and vice principal. (after a number of formative – or curative – years in the credit industry)
Edna Barrieau, VHS 1959
What I remember very fondly was being in the same graduation ceremony as my two older brothers – Jack and Toby Wilson. Toby and I were in grades 1 – 12 at the same time and Jack returned to Vic High in April of 1959 to complete the necessary courses required to obtain his diploma, graduate and continue on to get a BA degree at Denver University. Like most high school graduates I have many happy memories of my 3 years at Vic High but it was special to be in the company of my two older brothers and I am happy to share this special memory.
Roye Lovgren, VHS 1966
Thank you alumni newsletter staff for one more visit to the Class of 66. I enjoyed the tale of Art Warren’s mc venture and of Craig Strickland’s article – in particular the group of remembered names on the Camosun cover.
Diane Wood, VHS 1964
Diane’s special memory was her grad: As my father was a School Trustee, both my Mom and Dad attended my 1964 graduation ceremony. My father Edward (Ted) Wood served several terms from 1960, School District 61.
Diane (Wilson) Hutchison, VHS 1967
Ha, ha, ha! I sure enjoyed chuckling over Art’s “legendary ride” story. If CSI were on the case, I can easily imagine who the fingerprints of the “two or three others” might reveal as co-conspirators!
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!