GORE BAY—How many teachers were at Gore Bay High School in 1967? And how many Grade 13 students were there?
These were two of the questions posed to former students at the 50th anniversary of the Gore Bay High School-1967 held at the Gore Bay Curling Club. As part of the celebration, a dinner was provided by the Gore Bay-Western Manitoulin Lions Club “Lionsfest” celebrations for the anniversary.
“Good evening and welcome to this historic event, the fiftieth anniversary of our graduation in June 1967 from Gore Bay High School,” said Carolyn Lane Rock, one of the graduating students. “This is a wonderful evening.”
“I was a member of that amazing group of individuals who were launched into the world from Western Manitoulin in Canada’s Centennial Year,” said Ms. Lane-Rock.
She noted that Terry Noble deserves a round of applause for spearheading the reunion. “It seems every five years that Terry calls Bev Woestenenk about having a reunion. I just want to thank all of you for being here tonight.”
Heather Patterson said grace, which was followed by a moment of silence as all in attendance paused to remember all those former classmates who have passed on and then dinner.
After dinner, Ms. Lane-Rock quipped, “some of you may wonder why they asked me to speak as I have little long term memory left and very little short term memory as well. Sometimes I forget what I was saying at the beginning of a sentence when I get to the end. However, I did say no many times to do this and suggested others like Charlie Smith or Paula Wilson or Bert Woestenenk-all of whom have had plenty to say during the years; but alas I was stuck with the job.”
Ms. Lane Rock explained, “when I reflect back on my years at Gore Bay High School it would be my opinion that we received a very real education, one peppered with authentic experiences, solid pedagogy and relevant subject matter. How could we have learned biology more realistically than in David Bassford’s class dissecting formaldehyde smelling cats or measuring the speed of sound by shooting off a gun on the road on east bluff or learning wave action in physics class with Mr. O’Keefe and a slinky toy stretched across the desk which I promptly let slam back in his lap.”
“Or the passionate love of Romeo and Juliet or the tragic love of Othello and Desdemona in Tommy Porters English class,” recalled Ms. Lane-Rock. “Remember Miss Price and her funny little car, (was it a Mini Minor?) which I think she drove over the West Bay hill, or maybe we drove her over the hill.”
“Remember the dynamic duo of Madame Tustian and Mrs. Fogg. They really were the foundation of what GBHS was all about. Or that handsome Hughie teaching the only law we ever learned, the cute little Margo, or Platt Purvis, Connie Read, David Peppler, Georgina Armstrong and O.G. Davies,” she continued. “Today I know that these people were gems who taught us, some days not much, but to be real people and to be true to ourselves. We came to the halls of high school, some of us with little more than the clothes on our backs, but with a desire to be.”
“We were like all other teenagers, mostly interested in sex, music, sex, sport, sex and getting the heck off the Island or at the very least away from home to have sex,” quipped Ms. Lane-Rock. “We were far different than today’s kids, no Internet, little booze, no drugs, and of course little money and unlike today jobs were readily available.”
“Most of us were farmers kids, we knew lots about the birds and the bees, we had a good understanding of our own place in time and space and faced the world with basic innocence,” she continued. “We studied geography, history, science, English, Latin, French, math and business. A fine education for any young person then or now. We were so fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend school in our own little town and to be cared for by our communities.”
Ms. Lane-Rock pointed to people like Jack Mackenzie, Pauline Smith, Renie Noble, Lloyd Lane, Archie Rowe and many others who contributed to student’s lives. “In many ways this is the missing element in today’s world.”
“And we did just fine, dentist, lawyers, teachers, town clerks, construction owners, hydro workers, farmers, bankers, miners, nurses, preachers, accountants, hair dressers, policemen, electricians. Some of us made money, some of us wrote books, some of us had many children, some of us have many grandchildren, some of us got divorced, some of us never married, some of us travelled across the world, some of us stayed home but from the get go all of us got on with the game of life,” said Ms. Lane-Rock.
“But today we are old. We are happy to be here because we can be. As Bev Woestenenk so aptly put it someone didn’t want to come to the reunion because they were too fat, too gray, too old. Hell,” she said, “I’m just glad to be alive.”
Mr. Noble had handed out the trivia page for each table at the reunion dinner to fill out. As for the questions themselves, he pointed out there were 13 teachers at GBHS in 1967 and 14 Grade 13 students. Of the 22 students in Grade 12-4 there were eight girls; In 1967 the mayor of Gore Bay was John G. Lane, while Archie Rowe was the custodian at GBHS; in 1967 the Prime Minister of Canada was Lester B. Pearson.
The principal of GBHS in 1967 was Gwynn Davies and Mr. John Hanson was the teacher that lost their white sock.
And, “of 93 students from our classes here, how many now live or are still living on the Island? Fifty-three percent,” said Mr. Noble.
Doug Rumley said “it’s such a pleasure to be here tonight,” before telling some stories about attending school and his classmates. “I hope in the future we are all here to do this again.”
Bev Woestenenk told the group,“Terry calls me every few years about having a reunion, and I’m really glad he does. It is so nice to have such a great response here this evening. I am glad to see everyone here tonight and hope you all enjoy the evening.”
Gord Flanagan, a member of the Lions Club and part of the class reunion, thanked everyone for joining in the festivities. “I hope you enjoyed your meal, and on behalf of the Lions we really appreciate your support. I hope we can do this again in another five years.”