#16: Summer 2001
also: My Memory Froze In My Tracks
years ago, a beautiful new school opened its doors in Walkerville.
Designed by architects Pennington and Boyle in Collegiate Gothic
(the traditional style of the 1920s), Walkerville Collegiate Instiute
cost $600,000 at a time when the town of Walkerville had a population
opening of WCI was November 2nd, 1922. Celebrations included a luncheon,
a dance, a swimming exhibition and a program of "moving pictures."
that first year enrolment was 195 students. The staff included Principal
Robert Meade and nine teachers. The original building contained
22 classrooms and other areas including: manual training for the
boys, household science for the girls, a wood paneled library, a
48 by 80 foot gymnasium, an 800-seat auditorium with a 42-foot stage
and a pool known as "the Plunge."
during the first year, W. D. Lowe Vocational School used the second
floor of W.C.I. until moving into their own building on Giles the
following year. Walkerville Collegiate also housed the offices of
dentist Dr. Dean, Dr. Phelps, M.D. and school nurse Miss V. L. Leavette.
1923, lunch was served in what is now the Family Studies room and
usually consisted of soup and crackers or hot dogs and beans for
five cents. The kitchen and cafeteria were completely renovated
the town of Walkerville amalgamated with the city of Windsor in
1935, enrolment grew; soon all the rooms at WCI were in use.
students and staff of Walkerville developed a fierce pride in their
school, which was renowned as one of the top schools in the province.
The famous Cameron-kilted Cadet Corps, with its own bagpipe band,
were the best in the province. Walkerville also had a reputation
for consistently producing champion athletic teams.
the schools population grew (peaking in 1970 at 1287), new
rooms were added: in 1955 a music room, rifle range and, quartermaster
stores (later converted into an industrial arts facility and now
a media arts facility including a dark room and computer lab, a
new gym and cafeteria); in 1966 the main office was revamped, a
new library was built, as well as more classrooms.
the Walkerville student council is still known as the Agora, taken
from the name of the public square in Athens built in 500 B. C.
Agora evoked the spirit of democracy for it was in the Agora of
ancient Athens that the assembly met in session and its officers
were elected by the citizens.
membership was voluntary in 1934 and required a fee of 15 cents
to cover expenses. Today members are elected by the students and
the fee has increased tenfold to $15.
Agora established the Honour Society in 1960, to recognize individual
effort in academics, athletics, service and clubs. Honours included
everything from medals to having ones picture hung in the
library a supreme honour.
Walkerville is known for its excellent art program the Windsor
Center for the Creative Arts. Previously, the visual arts program
was centered at W. D. Lowe until the principal at Lowe decided to
convert the art room to a weight training room.
memory froze in its tracks"
I received a copy of the May, 2001 issue of The Walkerville Times.
I am in my 75th year and I can tell you that reading this issue
just froze my memory in its tracks.
arrived in Walkerville when I was three years old. My father, Wilfrid
Swanson, had just been installed as head of the Science department
at Walkerville Collegiate. He taught chemistry to grades 11 and
Walkerville Collegiate, I remember teachers Ian Allison, Cecil Bunt,
Charlie OBrien, Archie Fletcher, Wilmot Ball, Miss Auld, Miss
Bourgoyne, Miss McLaren and, of course, my father who taught me
for two years.
was war time and so a lot of our environment and exposure reflected
that fact. For example, we had a military unit within the student
body, a battalion I think, and all the male students participated.
I think Jack Leighton and Brian Easton were commanders at one time
or another. I was in the band because I thought their scarlet tunics
and plaid kilts were dashing. I also was a member of the Dominion
Marksmen rifle team.
recall Paul Martin Sr., MP for Essex County, addressing us in the
auditorium, excoriating the Hun and whipping up our support for
the war effort. Such an event often concluded with the singing of
"Therell Always Be An England" or "The White
Cliffs of Dover" with great patriotic fervour.
the light entertainment side I remember the school tea dances at
WCI and having the hots for Jane Harmon, Peggy Coulter, Gloria Verway
and Beth Crittenden and a few others that fail my recall abilities.
The grad dance was neat because the guys could wear our fancy Scottish
also remember Bill Kerrigans band. In fact, I just recently
received a CD produced by Bill Grundy and his trio, currently resident
in Edmonton. He still blows a mean clarinet.
few years ago I attended the 75th anniversary reunion of WCI. It
was really neat. The organizing committee had certain rooms in the
school designated for certain years which helped me zero in on Murray
Binckley, Peggy Coulter, Ward Purdy, Jack Woodrow, Jack Fry and
others of that vintage. It was just great fun.
dad died just thrtee months short of his 96th birthday. He curled
and lawn bowled until he was 92.Thanks to my friend, Jack Fry for
bringing back so many happy memories via your paper.
of lifes great pleasures is a memory or two. I have many of
them and not a few are associated with Walkerville, Ontario.
(Alva) Swanson, Vancouver
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