About the Alumni Association
To promote and celebrate the traditions of Lisgar Collegiate Institute by assisting the former faculty and students in maintaining linkages with their past, with each other and with the current faculty and students of the school.
A Brief History
Throughout Lisgar's history there have been organizations of alumni both formal and informal. For example, there has been a group of alum football players who get together informally every year since the 1960s. They meet in a local restaurant for a visit and dinner. Their coach, the late Rene Charron, was always invited and usually attended. A more formal group was the O.C.I. Ex-Pupil's Association, organized in the late 19th century. It had a formal structure with an executive and held an annual dinner at the historically famous Russell Hotel. The Association was very active and was responsible for establishing academic prizes as well as athletic trophies at the school. It was also responsible for planning the school's Diamond Anniversary Reunion in 1903, the first really formal anniversary celebration recorded in the school's history, and published the first history of the school for that reunion. The Association continued until the 1930s, when the difficult economic conditions of the Great Depression led to a discontinuation of its operation.
School spirit and interest in Lisgar's traditions did not wane in the absence of a formal organization. The school's centenary occurred in 1943 at the height of the Second World War. Despite the many restrictions of the time, including the shortage of paper, the Collegiate Institute Board established committees to publish a slim volume updating the school's history and staged a very successful 100th anniversary reunion. Ad hoc committees also organized reunions for the 125th and 140th anniversaries in 1968 and 1983.
Creation of the current Alumni Association in 1984 was suggested by Brian Mitchell (1982), then a very recently graduated alumnus who was Head Boy in 1981-82, and by a senior student, Diana Smallridge (1983). They felt there should be an organization through which they could keep in touch with the school and schoolmates after graduation. They approached the organizing committee of the 140th Anniversary Reunion and asked if they could advertise during the reunion weekend festivities to gauge support among the attendees for an alumni association. A number of local alumni, along with some teachers, held the first meeting in the fall of 1984, and an ad hoc executive group was formed to manage the organization and to build its membership. This original group included Jim Kerr (1962), Barb O'Brien (Brenagh, 1959), Betty Jane Marsh (Bolduc, 1960), Wayne Pointen (1959), Gerry Diamond (1936), Penelope Feather, Kathy Ullrich (Early, 1963), Brian Mitchell, and Diana Smallridge. Employing the mailing list from the 140th anniversary, they sent their first letter of solicitation. Slowly, members began sending in their membership fees along with letters of support. Now it was time for the executive to work out its mandate. What was to be its mission?
Our mission statement above was written after the fact, as the understanding of the Association's purpose evolved gradually through the taking on of various projects in support of the school. Under the leadership of our first chairman, Jim Kerr, the first big event planned was the unveiling ceremony of the stained glass windows installed in the Heritage Wall. The money for the design and construction of both the special window frames and the stained glass windows had been raised by a lottery held during the 140th celebrations. In support, the then current student body assisted in selling lottery tickets throughout the community in the period leading up to the reunion weekend in May 1984. The newly created Alumni Association participated in selecting the designers and the Lisgar symbols used in the design. Alumnus Michael Edwards (1960) and his firm D. Kemp Edwards Lumber designed and manufactured the window frames for the project. The Principal, Mr. Glavin, found money in the budget to install the back lights, as we only had enough to cover the frames and stained glass -- we had raised over $14,000 for the project, which took almost two years to complete.
Our next major project was to give long overdue recognition to Lisgar's only alumnus ever to be awarded the Victoria Cross, in this case for bravery during the Boer War. With the enthusiastic assistance of the Third Dragoons, Lisgar's history department, and the grandchildren of the recipient, Sgt Edward Holland, the Association organized a ceremony in honour of his great achievement, which took place in the school auditorium with all students present. The school was presented with a plaque displaying a replica of Holland's Victoria Cross, and it was mounted in Lisgar's Memorial Hall. A framed print of the battle in which Holland won the Cross was presented to Lisgar by the Commanding Officer of the Dragoons, whose home base is now CFB Gagetown, where Holland's actual medal is displayed in the Dragoon's museum. This print hangs in the Library. A decade later, one of our Alumni, George Toller, made a personal contribution to fund a matching plaque to commemorate Alexis Hannum Helmer, one of the first Lisgarites to die in the First World War, and widely believed to have been the inspiration of the poem "In Flanders Fields," penned by his friend Dr. John McRae.
The ongoing task of building the membership lists and mailing out two newsletters per year was being carried out by a dedicated executive committee that included Barb O'Brien her husband Brien O'Brien (1959), membership lists; Ken Medland (1980), newsletter editor; Jim Kerr, chairman; Doug Arrand (1961), teaching staff liaison; John Dunfield (1939), veteran's issues; Betty Jane Marsh, secretary; and Gerry Diamond. As the late 1980s were approaching, the executive began looking ahead to the 150th Anniversary of Lisgar, set to take place in 1993. Brainstorming went on for months and out of this came plans to publish a book of the school's 150 years of history. Alumnus Joan Finnigan-MacKenzie (1944) was approached. She had not only had been the editor of the Vox in 1943-44 but has also been a prolific and extremely successful author, and agreed to edit the history book and give the professional and the creative direction required. Pat Hood (Pearce, 1959) joined as the copy editor on the book project. The history book was a very challenging project, demanding much time and energy in supporting Joan's work in researching interviewing alumni, designing, editing, etc. The biggest challenge facing us was raising the approximately $80,000 it ultimately cost. When it was published in time for the Sesquicentennial, we were delighted to have made the deadline, but when we read it and began receiving the accolades from those who purchased it, we were even more delighted in a job well done.
Another major project suggested to celebrate Lisgar's 150th was to request an official Coat of Arms from the Chief Herald of Canada. This project was approved by the executive and fundraising began to pay the relatively high cost associated with producing a coat of arms. John Boehmer (1965), a history teacher at Lisgar, agreed to chair this project and entered into negotiations with the Chief Herald of Canada. As events turned out, this project would take a few years to complete.
The executive was gradually improving the quality of our newsletters under the capable editorship of Ken Medland, assisted by Pat Hood. After Ken Medland took a well deserved rest, Pat Hood took over and was newsletter editor until the spring of 2003. One can only imagine what it was like on the meeting night when we had to fold, staple, affix address label and stamp on 2500+ newsletters. We sat around the big table in the library for hours completing this task. In the 1990s, with our membership increasing and the newsletter being mailed to more than 4000 alumni, we turned our attention to improving the efficiency of publishing and mailing. We purchased desktop publishing software, and Lisgar students did the layout for our newsletter in a much more attractive and professional style, and outsourced the mailing. The result is that we are producing a newsletter the alumni association is very proud of. We are especially indebted to Imran Haq (1990), Rizwan Haq (1991), Salman Haq (1994), Cameron Moreland (1998), Daniel Kekez (1999) and Avi Caplan (2000) for their desktop publishing skills applied to our newsletters while they were still students at Lisgar.
During the last few decades we have received help from members such as our treasurers, John Barclay (1953) and later Marie Fraser (1984), who have done a wonderful job of keeping our financial records and finances in shape. John and Marie have also invested the life membership fees wisely so the annual interest income is maximized to help finance the work of the Association. We could also not have survived without our Margaret Pippy (Lugsdin, 1952) and then Elizabeth Hale (MacIntosh, 1990), membership and corresponding secretary. Milton Shaffer (1936), whose experience, wisdom, and sense of humour kept the executive on course was a member up until recently, and Joan Chrysler Quain (1942) served on the exec for at least ten years. George Toller (1947), former Head Boy, acted as our vice chair in the past and for a number of years was our best cheerleader and ideas man. He was the liaison on establishing the Dorothy Bishop Scholarship, and provides copious clippings and story material for the newsletter despite having retired from the executive. David MacGougan, former librarian and music teacher, was the official archivist of the Association and the school until 2002, when Joy Heft (teacher 1970-74, 1990-2002) took over. The archivist receives donated school memorabilia, documents, and other school artifacts, catalogues them, and stores them in the school archives.
In the 2000s, the members of the executive turned their attention to establishing a scholarship in Miss Meech's honour and to organizing the 160th Anniversary reunion. The staging of the event was delayed to the end of the 2003-04 school year, mainly as a result of a flood that required extensive repairs and the school's need to handle the "double cohort" year as grade 13 ended and two years' classes graduated at once. The 160th was a tremendous success, highlighted by a reception at Rideau Hall hosted by Governor-General and Lisgar graduate and former Head Girl Adrienne Clarkson (1956), the creation of our Athletic Wall of Fame, and a successful campaign to raise $60,000 for renovations to the auditorium, which was renamed the Alumni auditorium in honour of the effort.
We are always ready to assist the school in any way we can when called upon, and attempt to apply your donations in the most helpful manner. In recent years, donations from the Alumni Association have gone to support worthwhile projects including media carts, cross-country skis, computer labs, and bike racks. A second induction of distinguished members to the Athletic Wall of fame was conducted in 2008, and a major donation helped to fund badly needed renovations to the guidance offices which are so crucial to students' futures.
We are always looking for new executive members who are willing to offer their time and talents -- current members come from decades ranging from the 1940s to the 2000s. If you live in the capital region and would be interested in joining us, please contact us. Telephone us at (866) 236-1450, write us at the school, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.