With the start of another school year upon us I have been waxing nostalgic over Septembers long past with many fond memories of life at C.V.R. (Chateauguay Valley Regional) – and Gault School in Valleyfield before that.
This trip down memory lane was prompted by a phone call to Mom, during which she reported having driven from her place of retirement, Perth, Ontario, to the funeral of a family friend in Ormstown. Honestly, it sounded like she met more people I would like to have talked to than I even might have seen at a C.V.R. reunion! (I graduated in 1977 and have yet to attend one such gathering, but I suggested Mom call me the next time someone in the valley from her generation dies, as I might have the opportunity to visit with just as many people – and from a cross-section of age groups to boot!).
When I think back on C.V.R., I relive my involvement with Lindsay Cullen’s band (both at school and in the town over the summer); and the drama club production of “Oliver!” – a club whose vitality was cut short by the untimely death of Bob Walker, when I was in grade eight I believe, in that horrible Christmas time accident that killed four teachers. (I thank Gerry Taylor who chaperoned a group of us on a memorable trip to London, substituting for Mr. Walker.)
At the risk of naming influential teachers, and inadvertently omitting equally important ones, may I send greetings to Donna Erskine and Vernon Pope (who each encouraged my writing career); Harley Bye and Mrs. Blake who gave me an appreciation not just for Canadian history but for the local history of wherever I have happened to be – the Chateauguay Valley, then later the Niagara region, and now Toronto; Mr. (I think it was Jack) Dawson who – despite his very British name – imparted a style of conversational French I still call upon at times; David Hadlock, the only teacher in elementary or high school who made math seem interesting and relevant to me.
I no longer have my C.V.R. year books, the decision to leave them behind somewhere a cause of some regret now, but I remember many class-mates who shaped me as well.
Finally, this list would not be complete without mentioning my very first teacher, and these were days when kindergarten was not offered: Mrs. (Jean) McClintock who used to drive to Gault School from Ormstown to teach first grade every day.
I hope that whoever is teaching nowadays has a good year and best wishes to the children, and probably even grandchildren, of my classmates.