John Ashbridge, VHS 1964 The Voice of the Canucks


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

By King Lee, VHS 1958

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of NHL website.

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

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

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

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

Here’s a link to live radio interview with John.

And a few links to articles about John.

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

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

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

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

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


2022-2023 It’s Been Quite the Year

2022-2023  It’s Been Quite the Year

Helen Edwards, VHS 1964

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

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


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

Archives & Museum

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


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


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

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

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



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

Scholarships & Bursaries

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


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

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

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

Jerry Bone, VHS 1952 Asking the Zen Questions

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

Jerry Bone, VHS 1952    Asking the Zen Questions

by Jerry Bone, VHS 1952

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

By Linda Baker, VHS 1969

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

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

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

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

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

Gloria and Old Vic

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

A Career in Nursing

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

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

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

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


The Blizzard of 1996

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

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

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

Class of 1970 50th+ + + Reunion

Class of 1970    50th+ + + Reunion

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

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



Robin Farquhar, VHS 1956 Vic High A Magical Place

Robin Farquhar, VHS 1956,  Vic High A Magical Place

By Linda Baker, VHS 1969

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robin’s poem appeared in the 1956 Camosun.

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

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

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

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

2023 Black & Gold Dinner

We Gathered, We Honoured Our Own, and We Sang

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

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

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

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

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

Here are links to the inductees’ videos:

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

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

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



Rod Quin, VHS 1970 Artist, Innovator, Inspiring Imagineer

Rod Quin, VHS 1970    Artist, Innovator, Inspiring Imagineer                                                                   

By Linda Baker, VHS 1969                    May 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more about Michael Hemming here.

Doug Clement, VHS 1980 Night Photographer

Doug Clement, VHS 1980   Night Photographer

by King Lee, VHS 1959

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


We Found Ernest!

We Found Ernest!

By Linda Baker, VHS 1969

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

Barb Voth

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

Ernest Fairey, Vic High Joiner/Carpenter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Randall Fairey, Grandson of Frank Fairey

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

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

Beta Boys, School Spirit in Spades

Beta Boys, School Spirit in Spades

1967-68 Beta Boys

King Lee, VHS 1959 & Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Barrie Moen, VHS 1968 & Tore Valdal, VHS 1970

Peter George, VHS 1969 remembers Gamma Hi-Y


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

1968-69 Beta Boys.

Barrie Moen, VHS 1969,  Remembers Beta Boys

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

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

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

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

Tore Valdal, VHS 1970

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

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

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

  Gamma Hi-Y – Some Serious Fundraising

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

Celebrity Baker In the Making

Celebrity Baker In the Making

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’ll Never Believe This!

You’ll Never Believe This!

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

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

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

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

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

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

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

2023 Black & Gold Inductees

2023 Black & Gold Inductees

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

Lawrie Wallace, VHS 1930 (1913 – 2006) 

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





Jill Wallace, VHS 1966 (1948 – 2011)

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





Sylvia Hosie, VHS 1961

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





Timothy Vernon, VHS 1963

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


Mohammed Elewonibi, VHS 1983

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





Pamela Madoff, VHS 1972

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



Ian McDougall, VHS 1956

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




Ann Kipling, VHS 1951

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

’59 Totems to be Enshrined at Vic High

’59 Totems to be Enshrined at Vic High

by King Lee, VHS 1958

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maia Looi, VHS 2022, Flexibility the Key to Learning

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

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barry Gough, VHS 1956, Receives Prestigious Admirals Medal

Barry Gough, VHS 1956, Receives Prestigious Admirals Medal

by Mary Anne Skill, VHS 1975

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trees of Remembrance, Avenue of Sacrifice – Victoria High School Alumni Association (

Vic High History – Victoria High School Alumni Association

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

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

by King Lee, VHS 1958

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Class of ’75 Reunion Lunch

Class of ’75 Reunion Lunch

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

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


Vic High Grad Miss Earth Canada 2023

Vic High Grad Miss Earth Canada 2023

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vic High Students Collaborate On Emily Carr Tribute

Vic High Students Collaborate On Emily Carr Tribute

by King Lee, VHS 1958

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

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

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

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

1920s Autograph Books Seek Connections

1920s Autograph Books Seek Connections

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

Here are the names


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

Lillian Barton                                    Eleanor Anderson                Kathleen Burnett                            Mrs. Rowley                            Gladys Rowley

Dorothy Pears                                    Kathleen Baird                     Gladys Scrivener                             Mary G. Huffman


Velma                                                   Delia Zink                              Rosalie                                              E. Marriott                              Rose Halsey

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

Georgina Watt


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

“Oley”                                                    Elizabeth Campbell


You can contact Shelagh at


Seismic Upgrade November 2022

Seismic Upgrade   November 2022

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

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

Replacement terra cotta tiles cover the original brick walls.

East facade awaits its new heritage windows.

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












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

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

Student entry area window into pre-robotics lab.

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













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

Moving into Learning Commons, windows in center face east.

Southeast corner of Learning Commons.










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

Outdoor Classroom, facing east, overlooking Fernwood Road.

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

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













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

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

Repairing brick walls.












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

Stadium seating will be replaced and the area refurbished.

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

UK Plaster Restoration Specialist Loves Vic High

UK Plaster Restoration Specialist Loves Vic High

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original (green) moulding uncovered during demolition.

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

See more of Andy’s work here.

VHS 1967 Track Meet

VHS 1967  Track Meet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anna, VHS 1957 Vic High’s Top Banana

Anna, VHS 1957   Vic High’s Top Banana

by King Lee, VHS 1958

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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


VHS 1975 – 1977 Were You There?

VHS 1975 – 1977 Were You There?

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

Vic High September 1975 – June 1977


Vic High Astronomy Program Gets A Boost

Vic High Astronomy Program Gets A Boost

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glenn Parfitt, VHS 1972 Music Impresario and Historian

Glenn Parfitt, VHS 1972  Music Impresario and Historian

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

by King Lee, VHS 1958

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Class of 1972 50th Reunion

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

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



Class of 1962 60th Reunion

Class of 1962  60th Reunion

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



Seismic Upgrade – September 2022

Seismic Upgrade – September 2022

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


Music! Maestro! Please!

Timothy Vernon, VHS 1963      Music! Maestro! Please!

by King Lee, VHS 1959

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more here. 


Herb Warren, Father of Victoria’s Hanging Baskets

Herb Warren, Father of Victoria’s Hanging Baskets

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

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

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

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

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


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

About Ken Roueche, VHS 1963

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


We’ve Got the T-E-A-M

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

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

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



Sharron Higgins, Vic High’s Daycare Advocate

Sharron Higgins, Vic High’s Daycare Advocate

by King Lee, VHS 1959

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vic High Alumni are Everywhere

Vic High Alumni are Everywhere

By Linda Baker, VHS 1969

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2022 Vic High Graduation Honouring Resilience

2022 Vic High Graduation     Honouring Resilience

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can You Hear All the Clapping?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vic High Hairdressing Program Began On A Napkin

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

Vic High Hairdressing Program Began On A Napkin

By King Lee, VHS 1958

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

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

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

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

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

Gail Archibald, VHS 1959 Vic High’s Windmill

Gail Archibald, VHS 1959     Vic High’s Windmill

By King Lee, VHS 1958

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By King Lee, VHS 1958

Disclaimer: For entertainment, not instructional purposes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Epicure Success Story

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

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

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

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

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. Stew has made major donations to help launch Vic High’s Astronomy program, and continues to take an active interest in its growth.

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.




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.”

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.





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.

Beta Boys

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.

1975 Cheerleaders

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.


1966 Majorettes

‘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

…Happy days

…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!

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


Cheryl Taves, VHS 1979

Photo credit: Conrad Jay

The Value of A Good Teacher

Blog post January 25, 2015 –  (Cheryl’s art) (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 . Prints of his Vic High drawing are available on his website  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 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. (

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

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.