EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ian Macdonald from "inattentive student" to architecture department head shares memories from Chapleau High School in 1956-57

CHS Dance circa 1956

Although Ian Macdonald says he was an  "inattentive student"  who was "rapidly losing interest in education" when he was in Grade 12 at Chapleau High School, he went on to become the Head of the Department of Architecture at the University of Manitoba, retiring in 2006, and in 2008 was named Professor Emeritus by the university.

Ian, UofM chancellor Bill Norrie, Dr Joanne Kesselman

Ian was only the third architecture faculty member in the modern history of the university to be given the prestigious title of Professor Emeritus.

However, back in 1956-57, Ian was attending CHS, and active in school, community and church activities. He was also snapping pictures, some of which he sent me recently. I asked him if he would write about the school as he recalled it, which he did, and his insights follow here, but first a bit more about him and his career  as it evolved over the years.

While at CHS Ian served as an officer in the cadet corps and helped with the construction of the famous toboggan slide across the river from Chapleau Public School. He also looked after the electric train display set up in the basement of Smith and Chapple Ltd. for the Christmas season. 

He also played on one of the teams in the famous 1954 Bantam championship game for the Algoma Dairy Trophy, which is still discussed by the participants and is sure to be on the agenda at the CHS Reunion.

Ian eventually completed his Grade 13 at Delta Secondary School in Hamilton, worked some summers on the Canadian Pacific Railway as it made transition from steam to diesel engines, and in due course completed professional degree programs in architecture at Ryerson University and the University of Manitoba.

He joined the department of architecture at the University of Manitoba in 1978, retiring in 2006. However, he remains active and presently holds the position of Adjunct Professor at Athabasca University and is a member of the Program Advisory Council at Ryerson University.

G. Mino, G. Lemon, J. Riordan. G. Bowles, C. Fiaschetti, K. Hackstetter
He kindly agreed to share some of his insights of CHS from 1956-57. Ian wrote:

David McMillan
Jack Poynter
"CHS Grade 12 in academic session 1956-1957, to the best of my recollection, consisted of 16 or 17 students. Seven of these students had gone through elementary school at Chapleau Public School and seven through Sacred Heart Separate School. Two students were from Sultan and one was from Nemegos. Unfortunately, three members of the class have now passed away. 

Bob Glowacki
"The students from the Separate School were all Roman Catholic while those from the Public School came from families who attended either St.John’s Anglican or Trinity United Church. I never personally gave much thought to the religious divide in the class and generally assumed that the whole idea of High School was that students who were mature enough to attend High School were mature enough to not be threatened by religious belief or ancestory. It can be fairly said that cultural background never factored into friendships, social activities or class initiatives. Most of this class are to this day included on my e-mail directory and correspond on a regular basis some fifty-four years later.
Jim Evans
"Chapleau High School was an interesting physical facility. The original building was an ornate old Victorian wood-frame two-story four-classroom public school built in 1901. I described the innovative expansion and renovation of this school in a book recently published by Bill McLeod. Renovation and construction of the High School was officially completed in 1925 closely following the opening of Chapleau Public School in 1923.
"The project transformed the original Victorian school building into a contemporary looking brick-clad eight-classroom secondary school. Classrooms were approximately 750 square feet and each was well illuminated by six large double hung windows. 
"A basement level gymnasium was created with a low ceiling height of approximately ten feet. The foundation walls, which were common in Chapleau buildings at that time, were whitewashed granite rubble with hostile surfaces quite hazardous to those attempting to play basketball. The basement gymnasium also functioned as a venue for dances and similar social events. Two large open stairs linked both floors and functioned as galleries displaying photographs of former graduates and war memorial plaques.

"The Principal in academic session 1956-1957 was George Lemon who had just succeeded John McClellan who had retired the year before. Dr. Karl Hackstetter taught mathematics, Gerald Mino taught French and Clarence Fiaschetti taught English literature and composition as well as coaching the hockey team. 

"I was an inattentive student at that time who was rapidly losing interest in education and probably the last one who should offer an opinion on teaching The academic staff were actually quite decent individuals and probably giving it their best shot. It can be fairly said, however, that despite being a memorable social environment, the consistent  failure rate in the departmental Grade 13 exams remained the cold reality that was far too obvious to be
overlooked. Unfortunately this shortcoming did very little to inspire student confidence in the school or the teachers.

"Despite these challenges, the Grade 12 class of 1956-57 would ultimately demonstrate that report cards aren’t everything. Most of this class took a variety of individual paths that eventually led to distinguished careers in education, architecture, nursing, engineering, banking and finance. Perhaps Chapleau High School played a role in shaping these paths or maybe it was just a pleasant interlude along the way. The neat thing is we’ll never know for sure."

Just a footnote on Ian's comments on the departmental Grade 13 exams of those days. These were exams set by the Ontario Department of Education and written by Grade 13 students across the province. The results determined admission to the province's universities. They were also marked in Toronto.. Thanks Ian for sharing. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Video from CHS that Ian made!!!!

Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet


click on image


Following the American Dream from Chapleau. CLICK ON IMAGE