'55 Karen Walters (nee Murphy)
Happiest Times: Louie Armstrong and his band playing for us at lunch time. Going on the school picnics. Cheering for our school at the Brockton Oval Track Meet. Practicing my high jumping. The graduation parties. Writing for the KHS Life - I was Miss Happy Hearted for Advice to the Lovelorn. Learning to like Gilbert and Sullivan and watching the musicals on stage. Enjoying classes with Miss Mackenzie (Mac), Mr. Hunter, Mr.Spargo and Miss Beveridge.
Unhappiest Times: No one asked me for advice for the lovelorn and my mother had to make up problems for me to answer. Miss Lade, who put the best Math kids in row one and the worst Math kids in row five. Everyone knew which students were poor in Math. Someone stole my brand new saddle shoes when I was out high jumping. Spilling blue green ink on the blouse that I was trying to sew in Home Ec. was bad. My mother got a dressmaker to sew another blouse and the teacher in Home Ec sure wasn’t fooled. Some girls in my cooking class put soap on my toast and I had to pretend it tasted good or we would lose marks. That teacher had a hard time because a gas stove blew up on her and she went to the hospital. When she got back she opened the Home Ec door and the ceiling plaster fell on her. We never saw her again. It was sad when Mr. Spargo died at his desk and none of us were allowed to go to his funeral.
Our decade was different because we all wanted to dress the same. We all wore saddle shoes, bobby socks, long straight skirts and sweaters with a special name. The sweaters were washed in cold water with a product called Zero. A girl could never phone a boy or ask him out on a date. At dances the girls always had to wait for a boy to ask them to dance. The fifties music was good and you always knew the words to the songs. At the record store you could go in a booth and listen to a song to see if you wanted to buy it. Then you would take home the 78 and play it over and over. The best song was on one side and you usually didn’t bother listening to the other side.
When TV began we would watch it in store windows. When people bought their own TV we all watched the same programs. Sunday night was Ed Sullivan and we were all shocked when Elvis Presley started singing and shaking.
At the end of grade 12 we started singing Rock Around The Clock and we knew Rock and Roll was here to stay.
The Fifties at Kits were fun!
'44 Bill Read
The following are excerpts from my father’s autobiography: "MY MOST FORTUNATE LIFE"
“In September 1939 Mom and I started at Kitsilano Junior (grades 7-8) and Senior (grades 9-12) High Schools. At that time the school comprised the main building with east and west wings and to the south, wood structure buildings referred to as ‘The Shacks’. Boys and girls classes were separate with the boys homerooms and most of our classes being held in the shacks. This was, in part at least, because along with regular class rooms, the drafting, wood work, metal work and electrical shops were located there and used exclusively by the boys. The girls equivalent classes comprised cooking and sewing, the rooms for which were in the main building so their homerooms and other classes were there.
“In 1940 or perhaps 1941 students cadet corps were instituted in all high schools. At Kits and probably elsewhere depending on the size of the school population, there was a choice for boys of Navy, Army or Air force Cadet Corps: all girls were members of the separate Air Force Cadets. My initial choice was the Army Cadets but I transferred to the navy cadets in my last year at school. I wonder now what prompted that - possibly because of which particular teachers were involved in the different corps.
“When the school's 'shacks' were built in the early 1920's, World War I was very much in everyone's consciousness and, despite it being called 'the war to end all wars', a rifle range was included at ground level of the building that housed the metalwork shop. It had languished for many years but when the cadet corps came into being, the rifle range was returned to its original use. It was there that I first used a firearm, a .22 calibre rifle.
“Throughout school I had good grades but never top grades. I was elected class president most years, was house president in grade 9 and 10. In my final year I was president of Boys League and thus with president of girls league we were part of the so-called student government. In our junior year at Kits, sports were competed between class teams but on reaching the ninth grade we were eligible to play for the school's junior teams. These included softball, field hockey, (English) Rugby and (Canadian) football. In grade nine I played Rugby and Football. After reaching grade ten I played senior rugby in the fall, basketball over the winter and football in the spring. In my final year cricket was added as well and rowing in a coxen-four shell. (Rod Dickey, Dal Town, Ken Reid and Bill Read with Pete McMartin as cox)
“There was a great sports rivalry between Lord Bing and Kits: regularly meeting for the lower mainland championships year after year Byng took the rugby championship and Kits took the football one. William Rankin Read
“In the spring of 1943 when I was in grade ten, I and a number of others were given the opportunity to complete grades eleven and twelve during the following school year, i.e. to take two years in one. This was prompted by the manpower shortage caused by the war: shipyards, aeroplane plants, farms, etc. needed workers and the armed forces needed recruits.
“Although I enjoyed school, I decided that taking the two years together would be interesting. Thus I graduated in 1944, one year earlier than I would otherwise have done but then was faced more quickly with making the decision of what to do after-ward. Those who completed grade twelve were generally a year older than I and on reaching age 18 were eligible to enlist. By volunteering they could choose whether to join the navy, army or air force; if they waited to be drafted, they were sure to be
1944 yearbook (notice) placed in the army. Consequently many of my classmates volunteered for either the the ivy on the school) air force or the navy.”
Bill did enlist and to this day a memorial honouring all Kitsilano students (1939-1945) who volunteered for active service and those who made the ultimate sacrifice can be viewed and remembered at the school.
Bill’s connection to Kitsilano continued as all six of his children and 3 grandchildren are all alumni of Kitsilano. Over those years he held many positions on the PTA, fundraising and was always on the sidelines cheering on the Blue and Gold. Bill and Shirley kept in touch with their classmates of 1944-45 by organizing regular reunions. When Kits held their 75th reunion he jumped right in and worked side by side with Gus Fumano to pull of an amazing event – raising $15,000 at that time for the alumni scholarship fund.
'45 Dalbert Town
My name is Dalbert Town, a graduate of 1945!
I was valedictorian that year, as well as president of the boys league. I was also named to the honour roll.
One recollection of my time at Kitsilano was to have won the high jump championship at the Metropolitan track meet, held in 1945, at Hastings Park race track.
I was the only one to successfully jump 5'11". Two boys behind me had to jump off to determine 2nd place. The winner of that successfully jumped 6', but I got the blue ribbon and my picture in the paper! (I still have that, we'll see if we can send a copy to you).
Incidentally, to show how things have progressed- since I had virtually no coaching.
'45 Robert Reid
WORLD WAR II AT KITSILANO HIGH SCHOOL.
During my five years at Kitsilano from 1941 to 1945, World War II was raging and our three local newspapers sported great black and red headlines telling us about it. Being interested in printing, I collected them all through the war and had a book published about them fifty years later by Douglas & MacIntyre in Vancouver, while I was living in New York.
That was me in front of Duthie's book store holding my book on WW II. Here are some more.
The 1945 Kitsilano High School Annual Golf Championship was held at the University Golf Course in celebration of the end of World War II. It was the last wartime champion-ship and was the first played with girls as caddies, from the West Vancouver High School. The foursome shown in the painting shows the Champion that year, along with the three runners-up. From left to right they are: Bob Reid, Dal Town, Chuck Butler and Bill McDowell. No one can remember which of these players won that year and the School library doesn't have the copy of the Kitsilano Life newspaper in which the tournament was written up by Bob Reid. If anyone has that issue of the paper from 1945 get in touch.
The graduating class of 1945 celebrated by going to the famous Palomar Supper Club for dining and dancing. Some of the men are mentioned in the caption below the photo, but others there are: Shirley Nascou, Joyce Perry, Delores Stockstad, Marguerite Hewson, Jean Rutherford, Eileen Doran, Dorothy MacLeod, Bette Russell, Marjory MacDonald, Marguerite Hewson, Patricia Ryan.
'45 Shirley Reid (nee South)
Shirley and Bill met at General Gordon Elementary School in Grade 5. It was love at first sight for Bill and their relationship grew through high school. They had been married for 63 years when Bill passed away in 2012.
To say our mom LOVED Kits is an understatement. She was a great story teller and loved to share her Kits life with us. She made lifelong friends of her "Zia Gamma sorority sisters", a group who had weekly meetings and raised money for the war effort and of course to throw "Sock" parties and dances, some of which my dad and Uncle Stan (Davis) supplied the music for. Her sorority sisters still got together in their late 80's prior to my mom's death at the age of 90 in 2016. Mom and Dad organized many 1944/1945 class reunions and in their latter years those reunions became an annual luncheon at the Arbutus Club.
Shirley played softball and badminton in high school and was the VP of South House in grade 11 and the President of East house in grade 12. She excelled in English and History.
Mom was most proud of stepping out of her comfort zone to participate in the country's WW II efforts to promote the sale of Victory Bonds, War Savings Certificates and Stamps.
Competitions were set up between schools. In grade 12 Shirley was chosen to represent Kits High School and had to give a series of speeches to Rotary clubs, Kiwanis, and business clubs. Some speeches were given in theatres such as the Hollywood, Alma and Dunbar. Clearly her very personal speeches of neighbours, friends and classmates who had been directly affected by the fighting overseas helped her to sell the most bonds. She was named "Victory Bond Queen" and awarded a $100 bond.
Having grown up in Kitsilano our parents wanted to stay and raise a family in the same neighbourhood. Her life continued to revolve around Kitsilano High School as all six of her children and three grandchildren are also Kits Grads.
In 2015 Shirley established “The William and Shirley Read Scholarship”, a perpetual scholarship, as a way to give back to a school that had given so much to her family.
Special memories – Title – The Unknown Country*
Kitsilano was an unknown country to me as my elementary school was at an out-of-district catchment area – distant, small and far less affluent. Differences were further emphasized by dress, dreams pursued and economic status.
Our first entry at Kits was not promising. I was overwhelmed. Kits was the largest secondary school in Vancouver -2500 pupils and I was furthered handicapped by coming late – one month late – because I had a “good” job as a swamper on a fuel truck. I entered Kits not unlike an immigrant entry into an unknown land.
My loneliness was accentuated by being an only child of a widowed, elderly mother on social assistance. If I was to continue my education, Mom promised shelter and food but the rest was up to me. As a result, extra involvement, after-school activities were limited by outside employment, part-time jobs as store clerk, delivery boy and anything else that was legal. Summers were spent in sawmills or in the bush earning big bucks enabling me to stay in school dressed according to the going styles and having funds for fun.
Understanding schoolmates opened a circle of close buddies who became lifelong friends whose friendships eased my passage from awed adolescent to towards adulthood.
The total experience influenced my career choice and an educational path to UBC and, finally, to a significant contribution to more humane effective Corrections.
My happiest moment, related to Kits involved a 1949 grad who became my wife and has, surprisingly, continued in that role for the past 67 years. Kits was an unknown country to start – I as a virtual immigrant - Kits nurtured me and gave me more than I could offer at that time. I have an emotional, an economic debt which I strive to honour by promoting and contributing to the Alumni Association and its much needed scholarship fund.
Kits has left me with a treasury of wonderful memories for which I will always be grateful.
Hail, and thank you, Kitsilano!
*A popular book at the time by Bruce Hutchinson, striving to make Canada better known to the world.
'48 Harry Marshall
It was a dramatic change from Lord Tennyson, elementary, at the age of twelve into Junior High/Senior Matriculation students.
Fortunately for me I had some good friends from my neighbourhood at 5th & Yew St. who helped me with this transition. It was an all boys class made up of students from other catchment schools of Henry Hudson, Bayview, General Gordon and Lord Kitchener.
I was quite surprised to learn that one of my subjects was to learn French. Had great French teachers through the years and received better marks in French than English. Had some great teachers over the years. Have not forgotten the introduction of Mr. Jones, Industrial Arts teacher in wood working class in 1942. He asked the class if we could read the manuals at our desks. We all answered yes. After reading the manual he asked us questions and not many of us gave a correct response. He proved that we really did not understand what we had read – a very valuable lesson that still applies to this day.
Especially enjoyed Mr. Wilson, grade eight English teacher located in one of the old wooden classes near Twelfth Ave. He was a member of the Book of The Month Club and I became a member as well. Mr. Gordon Gillespie was a great Phys. Ed. teacher for me. He encouraged many other students to great heights, especially, Doug Hepburn to become the World’s Strongest Man. Also Mike Poppel, who became Mr. B.C. AS A Body Builder.
There were many great male and female athletes in individual and team sports from 1942 to 1948. Many went on to excel in Rugby, Canadian Football, Basketball, Track & Field, Baseball. We were all enriched by the quality of the students who preformed stage plays, singing and dance bands.
Many classmates went on to become teachers, lawyers, insurance agents, accountants, Doctors, airline executive, trades men, police officer and politicians.
Lost a great friend and after school worker, Merel York who died suddenly in 1946.
Lots of great memories and really enjoyed the recent Reunions. A very special thanks to the 1948 organizing committee.
'48 Jean Bowen (nee Coleman)
Mine will probably be the shortest story, because I must have been a student who spent the shortest time at Kitsilano.
Why? I was at Kits from January 1948-June 1948, a short time which gave me a life-long memory of the most fantastic school I ever experienced, and with constant evacuation during the war I make it 17 including one in California, before my mother and I ended up in Vancouver hoping the rest of the fam would join us.
The staff at Kits were brilliant. (Who was the lady in charge of the Grade 12’s??) I was put in 12B and they soon realised I was an embarrassment in the English class. (I knew Macbeth backwards.) They also realized that I hadn’t got a clue with Mathematics -- so wisely I was taken from the English classes and put down a grade to do Maths.
I’ll never forget the first lesson. A young man came in – sat on the table – took a coin from his pocket saying “Here’s a dime for the first one with the answer”. I had never had a lesson like that, he had my full attention.
Thanks to all the staff I graduated after an amazing six months.
Still hoping I shall get to you in May. Have a few Bto solve. Good Luck.
'50 Marie Cherkezoff
The years I spent at Kitsilano High School have given me some of my most precious memories, both academic and social. I was a very happy student and looked forward to every school day with great anticipation of the new experiences awaiting me.
At the time, popular clothing for the girls included sloppy- joe sweaters, soon after the end of the war, then regular pull-overs with Peter Pan collars and fake pearls; saddle shoes or penny loafers with white Bobby-sox; pencil or hobble skirts, or, at the other extreme, circle skirts. I recall wearing a poodle circle skirt complete with dog, chain and a bell-- that is until I was politely asked to leave it at home. My friends and I painted our old saddle shoes gold and blue and wore one gold lace, the other one blue. We wore them at social events only.
The Kits spirit was kept alive with many fun-filled events throughout the year: newspaper drives after the war; noon-hour penny movies); operettas; sports days and team games; annual picnics at Balcarra Park with Miss MacKenzie leading a sing-along while coming home on the boat; barn dances with appropriate clothing worn and the usual refreshment of a donut sitting on the top of a bottle of coke. Such fond memories!
Not to be forgotten were the dedicated teachers and the innovative methods used. Miss Bevridge used the project method to engage her Latin students, six foot plus Miss Nowlan recited a poem about a little boy with a 'code in da nose', Mr. Harris took us back to the days of Twelfth Night, Mr. MacKenzie made math seem like a wonderful game and Dr. Boughton's biology labs were so inspiring that several of us chose to continue this study post-grad. These teachers opened my door to a wonderful lifetime of learning, something for which I am most thankful.
Three events that show how things have changed leave me with a smile. I received a detention for coming back to school too soon when my dental appointment was briefer than my parents had anticipated. Both parents were at work so I couldn't produce a note of explanation until the following day. I felt so uncomfortable sitting in the library with my hands behind my back.
Another time I wore slacks to school during a huge snow storm and was sent home to change into a skirt. Many years later when my grade-eight daughter insisted that girls could wear jeans to school I phoned her school to confirm and heard a peal of laughter in the background.
The last event shows how lucky Kits students were and are. At one of the Class-of-'50 reunions we burst out singing 'Hail Kitsilano' and a young waiter with tears in his eyes said, "You are so lucky. We didn't have a school song."
That about sums it up.
'55 Dawne Shong
Here are a couple of my memories of my Grade Seven year that I spent at Kits.
I grew up in Kitsilano and went to General Gordon Elementary School. So when it came time to go to High School it was Kitsilano that I and school friends that I grew up with at General Gordon went to. During my elementary school days I was known as Donna Matheson. My parents legally changed their names and mine and I became known as Dawne Bishop. I hated the name Bishop and was so glad when I became married and my last name became Shong.
In Grade 7, I joined the school choir group and we sang at a school function. I remember that our costumes were made out of cheese cloth. I did not think they were very nice as they were so flimsy. My parents came to see and hear our performance. My mother said that when they dimmed the lights and shone a blue light onto our choir that we all looked ethereal like the angels we were supposed to be. I remember looking at other choir members beside me and thought to myself that we did not look so bad after all.
The one memory that stands out in my mind the most is an incident during our Home Ec. Class. My lifelong friend Karen Walters (nee Murphy) I first met in Grade 7 at Kits. Our first course was to make an apron for cooking. I can still remember the cooking class room with the stove burners. We did not have modern stoves like they do now nor did they teach you to be a gourmet cook.. They taught us the Canada Good Guide then it was on to cooking. We were to make Cinnamon Toast.
It was at the time when Margarine first came out and in those days it was white and the package came with powdered food dye which you had to stir into the margarine and you would put it into a bowl, dish or a mold to look like butter. We did not have time in Home Ec. to add the food dye so our fake butter was on a plate. Karen was teamed up with another group so I did not see her prepare her cinnamon toast. After we were finished the teacher came around to inspect what each of us had prepared. We also sat down to eat what we had made. I will never forget the look on Karen’s face when she bit into her toast. She made terrible face and when the teacher asked her how it tasted Karen mumble, very good. When the teacher left Karen quickly spit out her mouthful of toast. She had inadvertently scraped off the soft sides of a bar of white soap thinking it was margarine. Karen was and is today a fun and humorous person. So her antics at what had transpired in class were hilarious.
I forgot about a comment my math teacher told me. When I first took a seat in her classroom she said to me that I was sitting in a seat that Yvonne Decarlo the movie actress had at once sat in. I thought that was odd as I never knew she was from Vancouver.
At the end of Grade 7 my parents sold their home in Kits and we moved and I was transferred to Gladstone Senior Sec. I was never happy at Gladstone as the students had already formed their click group from their Elementary School Days. I felt like an outsider. So through Karen I kept in touch with what was happening at Kits through the rest of the high school years and I never went to a Gladstone reunion as my heart was always with Kits and my school companions from General Gordon.
'55 Jo-Mary Hunter (nee Bell)
Hats off to the hallowed halls of Kitsilano, a great high school. It stood majestically over the years with its cloak of many colours as the Virginia creeper changed with the seasons. Now it has a new life but I am sure that there are many memories lingering close by.
Happy times for me included memories of school friends, special teachers and participation in school activities. I arrived at Kitsilano in 1949 from Lord Kitchener and my high school experience began.
Kitsilano had amazing music, art & drama programs but my passion was for Sports and student activities. Four years on the Jr. and Sr. Grass Hockey teams coached by "Mac" Loma McKenzie and Margaret Willis were super fun. We finally got shin pads that kept falling out of our scratchy long sox. Connaught Park was our "home away from home".
One afternoon we challenged the teachers to a game. Score has long been forgotten.
Outdoor track meets at Brockton Oval in Stanley Park were interschool, exciting, fiercely competitive events with cheer leaders, school colours and lots of cheering and laughter.
We loved the skating parties at Kerrisdale Arena.
Can you imagine the fun we had when we had school picnics at Balcarra Park? We traveled by Union Steamship, sang songs all the way, "The Happy Wanderer" being one of those and then participated in fun races.
Our school dances were fun, particularly "Sadie Hawkins Days" when we dressed up.
5 cent noon hour concerts!! Louis Armstrong and his wife arrived and entertained us at one of these.
School days wouldn't be complete without visits to the White Spot for hamburgers and milk shakes on trays that the bell hops delivered and pushed through the window. We loved our 5cent ice cream cones at Peter's on Broadway.
I remember the elections we would have each year for the House Cabinet and Student Council. It was a real campaign with posters on the hall walls, campaign speeches and campaign buttons.
Kits had four houses. North, South, East and West. This was exciting because it was highly competitive when we held events like coat hanger drives, paper drives and coupon drives. Coupons were found in certain products e.g. Blue Ribbon Coffee and these could be exchanged for prizes which in turn were used at our school bazaar and fun fair. There were boxes, and boxes of these coupons to be counted and sorted. Our indoor track meets were a popular event. The results of all of these competitions and many more were recorded on large thermometers.
In 1954-55 I was elected President of East House and so automatically became a member of the House Cabinet and Student Council.
The Class of 1955 was a wonderful group of individuals. Thanks to our great reunion organizing committee we have had at least 7 reunions and many summer barbecues.
'55 William (Bill) Wickett
I came to Kitsilano, for grades 11 and 12, in 1954 and 55, from Vancouver College. So I really didn't know many students before that. Except for one or two that were in the reserve army with me. There were 35 of us males in all three branches in our grad class. I liked that I could walk to school from 4th Ave and Arbutus with a friend of mine.
It didn't take me long to meet others who became my friends. I enjoyed my time there and the teachers by and large were good. I majored in geography, math and English. Mr. Hunter was my home room teacher and my English literature teacher. He was great. He really got you interested in the writings and poems of many of the old writers and gave me a sense that I never had before, especially with poems.
I did notice coming from college that there was not the same discipline that made you do your homework, and apply yourself. I attended some functions, but because I arrived there in grade 11 it was hard to get involved in many activities.
I recall with fond memories our graduation, with the dinner at Brock hall, as it was the first time I had a suit. The grad at school and the after parties were really something and I was not shy, but partied with the rest of them until the next day.
My first house when I married was 2466 West 13th, a block from the school. I never had taken carpentry in 11 or 12, but took night school courses on all the equipment so I could work on my new home.
Both of my children have graduated from Kitsilano, Michael in '78 and Kathy in '83.
I have been to most reunions.
'57 Gary Fumano
Although completely independent, two historic events took place in 1939: first the outbreak of World War Two; second, with considerably less fan-fare, thousands of miles away in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan I was born, the youngest of four children (2 sisters, at the time, 7 and 5, and a brother almost 3) all of whom would ultimately attend KHS. Soon after, my father enlisted in the Canadian army and was posted almost immediately to Victoria where he would begin his military training. Ironically, my father was born in Reggio, Calabria, Italy, with whom Canada and its Allies were at war, a minor detail that, when coupled with a Japanese sounding name (e.g., Fumano vs Fumanshu) may have understandably caused some concern about which side he'd be cheering for and shooting at once they hit the battle field. Happily, he stuck with the good guys.
Post-war, Dad accepted a posting to Camp Jericho in Vancouver where he was responsible for new-recruit training. Fortunately, my maternal grand-parents had recently moved from Saskatoon to Vancouver where theyd purchased a large house on the north-west corner of 6th avenue and Balaclava street...one block west of General Gordon elementary school and 'smack dab' in the heart of Kitsilano. It was a large, shingled, two-story, turn-of-the-century house surrounded by evergreen trees on the developed side of the property, separated by a driveway and single car garage from the other half. The undeveloped half of the property, which contained a variety of fruit trees (apple, cherry, pear, and a lush, multi-vegetable garden, was a proverbial 'kid-magnate', and I was often charged with the almost impossible task of keeping the neighbourhood kids out of the garden and off the trees... a fruitless (no pun intended) challenge as most of them were my pals. Besides, I probably consumed more than any of them anyway!
School-wise, we thought that General Gordon had been ordained from above, and that Bayview, Tennyson and Henry Hudson existed simply to provide amusement for us and light opposition for our soccer and softball teams (although we conveniently discounted the many times we lost our share of games to each of them). Anyway, the years passed quickly and it wasn't long before we'd all converged at Kitsilano High School where they became loyal team-mates and, for many, life-long friends (of course, at General Gordon we had a leg up on them because Arthur Delamont and the Kitsilano Boys Band rehearsed once a week in our school basement, not theirs!) (As a foot-note, I'm pleased to add that Gordon and Kits' shared the same school colours (Hail Gold and Blue!)
Importantly, we came to learn that the very name 'Kitsilano' had a more identifiable, almost-tangible, 'knitting' component to it than did most other schools which had been named after long-forgotten royalty from distant countries. At Kitsilano, we have always enjoyed a unique and indigenous connection to our neighbourhood, including 'our own' beach! We are, in fact, THE only Kitsilano High School, not just in Vancouver, but anywhere, and whenever we're asked where we went to high school, it's such a simple and proud answer, "KITS". Significantly, the generations of teachers, staff and students that have taught, worked and studied at Kitsilano have shared and nurtured that sentiment throughout the years. And, for me, as grad day neared in June of 1957, I still recall feeling a strong sense of regret with the realization that I wouldn't be coming back to this very special place; the place where I was able to go directly from football and rugby practises and games to the back-stage of the school auditorium to have Miss Nowlan slap on my make-up for lead roles in two Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, Penzance and Pinafore, two years in succession. And I asked myself rhetorically, but with great satisfaction and pride , "what right-minded high school in Vancouver (or anywhere for that matter) would have over half of its city championship rugby and football teams, 3 years running, allow this 'artsy' distraction to happen to its rugby and football mugs. To us, the answer was always obvious. It was largely an in-bred school pride and our wonderful, iconic music teacher, Mr. Ivor Parfitt, who absolutely 'nailed it 'when he wrote and entitled our school song, 'Hail Kitsilano.'
Gary, or “Gus" (as he has long been nick-named and known in the community) is a life member and past president of the Meraloma Club across Connaght Park from the school, and represented BC and Canada internationally in rugby. He is a “dyed in the wool" Kitsie and a founding member of our Alumni Association.
'57 Hardy Krug Bunn
I attended Kitsilano High School from September 1952 through June 1957, Grades 7 to 11.
My family had immigrated to Canada, arriving in Vancouver from Sweden on January 8, 1952. Having fled the Russian invasion of Estonia in September 1944 in a small, overcrowded fish-boat, landing in neutral Sweden, we were among the first refugee boat people. Having started out briefly in refugee camps, we lived and prospered in Sweden for the next seven years. In November 1952, we left Sweden on an oil tanker carrying 12 passengers plus our family of four to make our way from Gothenburg, Sweden with a stop in Antwerp, Belgium, across the Atlantic passing within sight of the Azores Islands, another stop in Cartagena, Panama, through the Panama Canal, and up the North American coast with yet another stop in San Francisco, to land here 45 days later.
I was 12 years old, was registered for school immediately and placed in Grade 6 at Bayview Elementary. I did not speak any English (but was quite fluent in Swedish, having attended school there from Grade 1 through part of Grade 6), and I managed to get along well enough in my native tongue of Estonian. My sister and I were still speaking Swedish to each other for the first while and in Estonian only with parents and other Estonians. My Swedish Grade 6 class had taught us some beginners English, but it was not enough to formulate thoughts or to carry on even a basic conversation. Therefore, since there was no such thing as ESL classes for immigrants back then, I was assigned to attend classes with the Grade 1 students every day to pick up my language skills. Early on, I remember one time having the teacher dictate something that we all had to write in our exercise books. The name Bobby was part of the story. I, of course, had no idea about spelling, so my best guess was to write it as B-A-B-Y. It made sense to me phonetically, but it turned out that I had a lot to learn.
By the time the Grade 6 class graduated in June, my sister and I had given up conversing between ourselves in Swedish – we had both learned our new language well enough and were comfortable switching to it.
Then came September and a new school for me: Kitsilano High School and Grade 7. Exciting and scary. However, it turned out to be quite manageable; in fact, I was even chosen as the representative for my class in the annual spelling bee (back when spelling counted)! It all went well until I had to spell the word “cemetery”. I managed C-E-M-E-T -- and then – was the next letter an E or an A? I guessed wrong and let my class down by being promptly eliminated.
My other years at Kits were uneventful as I now try to recall them, but I remember many teachers with fondness: Miss Mac, our gym teacher; Mrs. Hunter for English; who was the lady art teacher whose class I enjoyed so much? Mr. Gillespie was my typing teacher (I will always be grateful for that skill). I remember assemblies and singing Hail Kitsilano – I still remember the lyrics. Oh wow, was that ever a long time ago.
Great memories and a wonderful start to my life in Canada. GO KITS!
'60 Ted Severud
I was a member of the graduating class of 1960. I attended Kitsilano from grade 7 through 12, 1955 – 1960.
Most of my memories of Kits are very good and rewarding. I remember how grateful I was to have moved from Templeton Junior High in the East End to Kits. The atmosphere was so different at Kits that it was like finding myself in Heaven.
I spent the first two weeks in grade 7 at Templeton when my family moved to Kits. I had and still have some very good friends from Kits.
I would have to say that my most special memories are of three of my school friends who became lifelong friends and best mates: John Marshall, Horst Koppitz and Michael Parker. Sadly, they have all passed away with Mike just within the last few months.
As one of my retirement hobby/activities I conduct a practice of writing 3-Line verse daily. I have a collection of over 27,000 since I started in 2005. For your possible interest I have attached a small series I wrote in 2010 after attending the Class of 1960, 50th reunion held at the school.
You asked for suggestions for a class representative. For 1960 I would recommend Pete Smiley who was Class President for 1960 and the winning quarterback of the champion 1960 Kits American football team. He went on to become a well known respected medical doctor and surgeon in the United States
'61 Kersti Krugg
I was born in Estonia during World War II. When the war turned, my father, mother, sister, and I escaped in a small boat to Sweden where we lived through the 40s. But with the cold war getting hotter, my father decided that we needed to get out of Europe. He looked to the USA, Australia, and Canada as possibilities. In the end, one of his friends in Vancouver offered to help him get settled, so Vancouver it was.
Given that my father was a sea captain and in Sweden worked on the Johnson Line, the rest of us joined him on one of the ships that would eventually get to Vancouver. We left in late November 1951 heading south to South America, through the Panama Canal, up the coast of North America, to arrive in Vancouver on January 8th, 1952. We were beautifully welcomed by sunny snow-covered North Shore Mountains as we sailed under the Lions Gate Bridge. Thrilling.
For the first 6 months, the nearest school for me was Bayview. To teach me English, I was regularly moved out of my grade 4 class into a grade 1, where I hunkered down awkwardly on tiny seats while the teacher shouted at me – apparently believing that loud noise would have me learn English faster. But as my sister and I quickly started communicating with each other in English, not Swedish, I was fluent by June.
We then moved slightly eastward and I entered General Gordon where, to my amazement, I met two girls with red hair. Sweden in my days had been all white and blonde and blonde and white, so red was wonderful. I was green with envy. Still, adjusting to school in this new land had me asking my mother to wake me up a half hour before getting ready for school so I had time to cry.
After graduating from grade 6, I headed to Kits High School where I was accepted into Mr. Hunter’s enriched class, and here found even more enrichment in this country Canada. There was one black girl, one Japanese girl, two Chinese boys, and one Korean boy, not to mention students whose families had obviously come from many parts of the world. I had landed on our colourful planet Earth. The diversity was so enriching that I have never got over it. I must have embarrassed everyone when I asked a teacher if I could sculpt the head of a young black boy who had just entered Kits. She said yes, so now I have that delightful head reminding me of human richness.
There were negatives and positives, however. Four of the former were these: first, watching Miss Story in virtually every class blow her nose into a hanky, then stuff it down between her boobies; second, as an always singing Estonian who preferred to harmonize rather than stick to the main tune, I was told by the music teacher to “shut up” and just listen to the others; third, making myself a fancy strapless dress for the graduation party, I was forbidden to wear something that exposed my shoulders; and fourth, before graduation, I was asked what I wanted to study at UBC, to which I answered medicine, but was told that I couldn’t do that because I was a girl, and girls could be nurses or secretaries, but not doctors. Sheesh.
Still, many more positives made up for all these: first, Mr. Hunter, in his incredibly enriching special class; second, opportunity for sports, arts, music, and student council in a wonderful physical environment to launch the rest of my positive career; and even getting picked by the BC Lions to ride as a dressed-up cheerleader on a truck float to celebrate Vancouver’s first Grey Cup parade.
So, Kits, you were a most wonderful, enriching, and deeply strengthening school. Thank you for the positive change you offered me, and thus HAIL TO YOU!
'61 Les Whitney
When I was eleven I went to Kitsilano, straight off the ranch, and was put in a shed at the back of the campus with the other Grade 7 boys of my persuasion. We didn’t know we were different at the time but awareness was frontal cortex when the better half of us were selected along with some oddly mature girls to become the Advanced Class in Grade 9. This was an undocumented experiment in elitism, a cohort of “smart“ kids to stay together for four years, unique to Kits and unrepeated there. My parents and I were never consulted on the project and I am no wiser after Google searches, but I was present and benefitted.
[PS: I spoke to Peter Light about life in the Advanced Class and both agreed that it was like being in a very small high school in a village of nerds.]
Following an IQ test I wrote that I wanted to take German, metal work and Home Economics: German for the intellectual challenge and the others for their practicability. Apparently these notions were either deviant or conflicted with the schedule of the chosen teachers. These senior staff were mostly sad choices as the best for the best. Certain younger teachers seemed more fun to me, but since this was an experiment I suppose the social scientists didn’t want too many variables.
On the first day of class, we were seated in alphabetical order and as a “W” I stayed in the back right corner of the room for four years. Being comfortable in corners, I had leisure to read and do homework in class, to learn how to game the system to get good marks, and best of all to have time to be in the moment, think and dream.
I was surprised and remain pleased that there was no bullying; perhaps the “other” thousand teenagers were afraid of us, they not having the power of social media. Perhaps the senior teachers were afraid of us too, our being more intelligent than them, for with the notable exception of Mr. Hunter I don’t recall anyone talking to me.
Our Advanced Class finished most core subjects in Grade 11 and were pressured to take university math and science courses in Grade 12. Peter Light and two others, more brave than I, withstood being leaned on by the Principal and used the freed time to benefit from the rich arts programs at Kits but I, looking to the future, soldiered on. During my first year at UBC I only had to take English and French to get into Engineering. Secure with bursaries and a scholarship, I had the best year of my young life being free to pursue truth and beauty.
'61 Randall Fairey
I remember walking nervously up the long-sloped sidewalk on the North-East corner of the school on my first day in Grade 7 on a sunny September morning in 1955. Slouched along the sidewalk fences were several older boys wearing “zoot” suit pants –black and baggy, with long looped key chains and sporting well-brylcreemed “duckbill” hair dos. And as I walked timidly by, trying not to make eye contact, I could feel the dismissive looks at this little grade 7 kid wondering if I was a target for instant something. Thankfully I was confident enough to head off to Mr. Bell and a hut-(yes- a hut) full of Grade 7 boys eager to begin the six year journey for what turned out to be one of the best times of my life.
For me, Kits was life-altering and life-enhancing in every way; it was a big bustling middle-class school that was perfect for a kid growing up in upper Kitsilano where my father built our duplex on West Third Avenue on never-built land. I was surrounded by friends living in the 4th Avenue CMHC housing complexes, or in the older big frame homes. As future KHS students we were destined to come mainly from General Gordon (my first school), Bayview, Tennyson, and Henry Hudson primary schools in Westside Vancouver. Television was just arriving bringing a sea of rooftop aerials reaching for KING, & KOMO, Seattle and KVOS, Bellingham let alone Canadian channels such as CBUT and CHAN. Radios still predominated, rotary telephones, milk trucks and small Safeways and Cunningham drug stores. The White Spot was about to expand from South Granville to Broadway and Larch, and you could still get fabulous fish and chips from the Chinese cook in his little shop at Trafalgar and Broadway.
Seemingly simpler times in which I grew up to learn, to think, and to appreciate diversity and a peaceful life. That was the neighbourhood milieu in which KHS stood like a castle at 1oth and Larch; busy, and ever changing (construction started almost the day we arrived).
What did I discover at Kits? I found a school that balanced academics with sports, the arts, and training in civics. We had excellent teachers over my six years, particularly in our class from Grade 9 -12 when we received superlative teaching in a new “enrichment” program. As a non-athlete I was still able to participate in activities as well as cheer our teams, and in the arts there was a rich program for singing in choirs, and participating in operettas, and plays and school clubs. By running for school offices I learned a tremendous amount about parliamentary procedure and being a class representative.
When I graduated in 1961 I had numerous awards to look back on with pride and appreciation and as the Class Valedictorian for over 300 Grade 12 students, I was honoured to fulfill that role then, and at numerous reunions since. When I attended UBC in September 1961, I knew I had been well prepared.
So from my first tentative entry into Grade 7 until I left in June of 1961, I received an education in academics and getting along with others that has never failed me over my lifetime. I can honestly say that High School at Kitsilano were some of the best years of my life that I would not replace for anything. I am so proud to be a graduate – Fiat Lux!
'64 Linda Jorgensen (nee Holand)
The first year attending, 1958, I recall having one class in the old one room school building which was at the east south corner of West 12th Avenue and Trafalgar. It had the wooden stove. It was not always fun to walk from the main building to the outer one.
As with every group of students, there were the popular group, the athletic group and the artistic group. There were special classes. I felt that overall respect for one another regardless of differences was always present.
There was always strong school spirit especially when competing with the other Vancouver secondary schools. Also, with the internal track meets, the competition within the divisions; north, south, west and east was exciting.
An event which was fun was when the Home Economics class put to practise our skills and put on a father and daughter dinner where each table also included a teacher. All were impressed.
Although it was not my class, I recall one class ordering pizza having it sent to a classroom. I am not sure if it was a French class or Social Studies class but recall hearing the teacher was not impressed.
A very sad moment was Nov. 23, 1963 walking the hall when news broke out about the assignation of John F. Kennedy. A silence fell over the school.
I believe over the years, Kitsilano was a great school and was known for some excellent programs offered. I hope this has continued.
'66 Laura McDiarmid
My name is Laura McDiarmid and I attended Kitsilano Jr/Sr Secondary School from 1961 to 1966.
I remember going to Kits in Grade 7 and thinking how BIG the school was and how could I possibly find my way around this building. I remember being nervous and worried that I would miss classes because I had to find my way around, and of course there was “no running in the halls”….!!!
By the time I graduated in 1966, I was a pro and helped the young-uns find their way around the school, noticing that same doe-eyed look on their face!!
Oh, the memories…
I was involved in everything sports and enjoyed some of my classes. But I had a lot of friends and because the school was so big, we had lots to do. I am still connected to some of these friends to this very day and we go for lunches every two months. It is great to meet up with them and share our memories.
I was president of my class in Grade 9 and that was a fun time. I am sure that paved the way for my later duty as a politician, being elected to Municipal politics from 1996 to 2001.
I loved sports and was on the track and field team. I was Athletic Rep for West House in Grade 10 and in Grade 11 was Athletic Rep for North House. During my Kits time, our classes were divided up in “houses” – West House, North House, East House, and South House. Each house had a different colour.
We used to have “House” competitions and it was a great way to bring everyone together and get them involved in sports – fabulous idea and really was a lot of fun.
On Friday nights we would go roller skating at Kitsilano Community Centre.
We were so fortunate to go to Kitsilano. It was truly the best school, in my opinion, in Vancouver. Of course Vancouver was much smaller then. But in my mind, it remains today a great school. As an adult I can truly appreciate all the benefits we had attending Kits. We were truly a community – the High School, Kitsilano Community Centre and Connaught Park all in one local space.
There is not much more one could ask for – and the beach 10 minutes away and the mountains 30 minutes away. We were truly blessed.
'66 Paul McCurdy
I remember well my first day at Kitsilano High School. It was 1960 and I was a nervous young grade 7 student, looking around at the older kids and wondering if I’d make it through the day.
Fortunately, there were a few others of the same age near me, so we huddled together until the bell rang and somehow made it to our home room. High School - wow!
Generally I was an OK student, making it onto the honor role up until Grade 11 - when I became a bit of a rebel.
I believe it was grade 9 that I entered the Kits Band program. (Back in those days, music courses were much encouraged.) I had taken private sax lessons during the summer, thinking it would give me a bit of an edge. Our teacher was George Wardrop, a fine and excellent instructor. I really enjoyed my classes with him. In grade 11 I moved to the Baritone Sax (I previously played Tenor) and guess I was pretty good at it. A guest teacher once pointed out how well my dynamics were, blowing softer and louder as the melody required; or maybe the quiet spots were when I got lost in the music charts. Anyway, during another class Mr. Wardrop had to leave for a while, so made me assistant conductor. I could move the baton correctly to keep time, but boy, I was totally lost by the music charts - all those instruments with their different lines! He also invited me to play at a couple of the senior jazz band rehearsals where a fellow baritone sax player named Eric Lindquist befriended me.
It was sometime around then that David Sinclair and I decided to play rock’n roll. He’d come over to the house, we’d plug his new electric guitar into my mom’s stereo, and we’d play some of the hits popular then: Little Richard, Jerry Lee Curtis, the Ventures.
My favorite classes were music, math, drafting - where it was a challenge to receive a strap on the hand with the black strap, or if you were really bad, the red one!; don’t think I graduated to that one - and sciences.
I was a terrible athlete and did everything I could to avoid P.E. When excused, I was sometimes sent to a class with (all male) struggling math students. I gained some new friends there who I would not otherwise have hung out with.
But playing in a band became a passion. With the popularity of the Beatles I had to learn another instrument, so with some lessons from Rick Dey, another Kits student, I picked up the bass. By Grade 10 David & I had formed “Little Judas & The Sinners” with Dave Gill on guitar & bass and Wayne Matthews on drums. We’d hang out at the Gills’ house during lunch (directly across from the main school entrance), smoke cigarettes, listen to music and sometimes play. It became a popular place. The band played often at Kits Community Center. But when we got a gig at the school sock hop, we were asked to drop Little Judas from the name, so became just “The Sinners”. Not sure why that was still acceptable. By Grade 12 we had added Chuck Hermann on sax who arranged for us to do some recording - although the Capitol A&R guy was supposedly interested, nothing came of it.
Around that time my girlfriend and & I discovered that she was pregnant. Les was born in September, 1965 (he now goes by Paul too). With still a year to go before graduation it was a struggle at school. But I had finished all the academic courses I needed to qualify at UBC, so was able to float along with lots of “shops”, music and just a couple of academic classes. Pat Webb (a sometime Kits student) & I got married in July 1966 after my graduation, with all the “Blue Knights” (David & my current band) in attendance. Unfortunately that didn’t last very long; but that’s another story…..
'83 Georgina Tsonis
I attended Kitsilano Secondary School from 1978 to 1983. Therefore, 2018 is my 35th year out of high school.
Despite the passage of time, I have vivid memories of the time that I attended Kitsilano. Yearly highlights included the Indoor Track Meet (our “houses” were north, south, west, east), Theme Dances (i.e., Grease), Talent Show (some very famous rock n’roll musicians graced our stage) and the roller skating party at Stardust.
Of all the years, my most memorable was grade 12. As well as being the year of the pre-grad parties, the prom at the Commodore and graduation ceremonies, it had other highlights as well. Grade 12 included a visit from prime minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, on March 10, 1983. Our high school was chosen from among all the high schools for him to visit. I remember the prime minister being asked some pointed questions during the question period.
Grade 12 also included a visit by streakers at the Grade 12 Mother Daughter Reception. The same Reception saw a memorable performance by Chubby Checkers, also known as the late wonderful Alex Economos.
Some of my schoolmates were also able to enjoy a trip to Egypt with Mr. Ippen in grade 12. Although not as exotic, I participated in an exchange program with students from St. John, New Brunswick in grade 11, organized by Mr. Dick. It was a memorable experience and insightful look into lifestyle differences between west and east Canada. My St. John “buddy” remains my Facebook friend to this day.
There were also very notable grad pranks throughout the years, including crickets released in the library, post office boxes placed on a ledge above a school doorway (a federal offence if they had been caught!), chains on the hallway doors. I can't say any of these pranks were well received by the school or that they were wise but they do have staying power in our memories.
I graduated from Kitsilano with a wealth of friendships that I continue to cherish today. While in school, I was heavily involved in sports and played volleyball, basketball and softball throughout the years and have lasting friendships with my teammates to this day.
As well, while I attended, Kitsilano had a very large contingent of students of Greek descent, of which I was one (as were many of my relatives). I often bump into my fellow “Greek” schoolmates at Hellenic Community events or otherwise. There are also those friendships that began back in elementary school and continued into high school and withstood the passage of time. Whether I am in constant contact with these friends, see them at a reunion or bump into them at events around Vancouver, we just pick up where we last left off.
In summary, I had a wonderful 5 years at Kitsilano and it will always have a special place in my heart.