The Glengarry News, page 7

April 24, 2019

By Inez Franklin

North Lancaster

    The Glengarry Fencibles Trust is delighted to report that the April 13 Gala Dinner in support of The Bishop’s House restoration project was a memorable success. Creative collaborators Tish Humphries and Janice Munro and their team transformed The Tartan Room at the Char Lan Recreation Centre for the occasion. Handsome black and gold décor accented with touches of tartan and lush scarlet roses created a welcoming setting for patrons. A gilt-framed black-and-white drawing of The Bishop’s House by Babs McLeod made a lovely focal point at the entrance. One hundred and twenty-three patrons sat to dinner after a lively cocktail hour.

Guest speaker Allan MacDonald and Brenda Baxter.
Photo courtesy of Shawna O’Neill / Cornwall Seaway News

    Glengarry Fencibles Trust President Brenda Baxter welcomed everyone and introduced the Gala’s community sponsors. Todd Rozon was represented by his mother, Wendy Wert. Gary McDougall was present with his mother, Hilda McDougall, and his aunt, Marie MacDonald, both of whom are retired teachers who taught at Iona Academy. The theme for the evening was “Remembering Iona.” Brenda shared Aggie Petrie’s reminiscences as a student at St. Raphael’s elementary school, which was directly across the road from what is now the Ruins of the church. Each week Aggie would skip up the long green lawn where the militia once trained, make her way along the lilac path and then enter the magnificent high school building for her piano lesson in the south-facing music room.

  Brenda herself was in Grade 9 in 1965, the last year that classes were offered in the building. She recalled that each high-school grade had its own spacious classroom. On average, 120 students made up the student body. The Sisters of the Holy Cross whirled in and out of the rooms, competently handling each subject in turn during nine, 35-minute periods. Such extracurricular activities as glee club, band, and debate were offered. Brenda remembers attending her first debating competition in Ottawa. Iona Academy’s team, Kenny “Junior” MacDonald and Carol Harwood, won first prize overall after a full day pitted against such prestigious and much larger city schools as Ashbury College.

    Lastly, Brenda shared a romantic tale. All four children of Theo and Agia Barbara – Elaine, Michael, Julia and Lloyd – attended Iona.  Lloyd, the youngest, recalls “sparks flying” when he met Marie Keon, a boarding student from Pembroke. Though they were devoted to one another, the young couple found that after graduation, distance made the relationship difficult to sustain and they drifted apart. Twenty-five years later, Lloyd, a widower, and Marie, whose marriage had ended, met once more at a Class of 1960 reunion. Their youthful romance was rekindled, and this year they will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary!

    Lloyd and Marie Barbara now live in Toronto. Though they could not attend the Gala, they notified Brenda of their intention to honour the school where they met with a $10,000 donation! On behalf of The Glengarry Fencibles Trust, sincerest thanks and heartfelt appreciation is extended to this couple.

    After a delicious dinner, Glengarry’s archivist, Allan J. MacDonald, gave a charming talk on “Remembering Iona.” Allan arrived in St. Raphael’s in 1962. The trip from his family’s farm on the 4th of Kenyon to St. Raphael’s,  now just a 15-minuted car ride, was in those days An Undertaking. Allan boarded all week in the village of St. Raphael’s with Ernest Valade’s family. He walked to school each day. Boarders, he noted, were the heart of Iona. They came to the school from such exotic places as Montreal, Ottawa and points beyond. Some, it must be said, had been sent to the country for corrective action. It was hoped that their behaviour would improve in the rural setting. Students from away were better versed than their rural schoolmates in the social and cultural trends of the day; still, sartorial splendour stopped at the school gates. Uniforms levelled the field for girls and boys alike. Oh, those dreaded clip-on ties!

    Allan’s recollections of his high school years brought the place and the times to life. Thirteen-year-old youngsters were told about, not consulted on, their education. Nonetheless, for a shy and retiring soul such as Allan, the practice netted great results. The nuns, he noted, were “determined to make something of their students.”

    Allan’s self-deprecating reminiscences were charming and humorous. He recounted how he was “swept into Sr. George’s band, in spite of having a light bow.” He suffered, terrified, through a public speaking competition in Ottawa; he single-handedly derailed the Mass the one time Fr. O’Brien conscripted him into altar service; he danced, once, at one of the heavily supervised school dances. He hit a home run at the annual baseball tournament, and knew that his star had ascended among the cheerleaders, until Kenny MacDonald hit four. His high school years at Iona were spend under the watchful, all-seeing eye of Sr. Clare MacDonald, his aunt. In spite of his shyness, under her care, good things seemed just to happen.

    He learned not to fear being pulled from class on a Friday afternoon to go to the office. The visits “for books” meant a chocolate treat, a parcel for the family, and an account of how things were going. Still feeling shy and awkward, as the weeks of his final year hurtled inexorably towards the dreaded Graduation Prom, he found himself presented with a date and a trip to Cornwall to rent the appropriate outfit. Sr. Clare’s was a disciplined, effective and compassionately benign approach to “making something of” her nephew.

    That commitment to bringing out the best in each student according to his or her gifts, and to making the school a model of higher education, was the hallmark of Iona’s Holy Cross teaching sisters. Allan painted a vivid word portrait of each. In those days, he noted, the nuns dedicated themselves whole-heartedly to their students, to pulling them across the finish line. They were hard-working, unsalaried, and deserve the best thanks from their students”. Clearly, their efforts bore fruits. Thanks, Allan, for a wonderful recollection.

    The final portion of the Gala was dedicated to the auction of a variety of lovely items. Flora Grant Dumouchel stepped up to the task. OPP Detective Ranald MacDonald, a Director on the GFT board, was her capable assistant. Many, many thanks are extended to Flora for her competent and entertaining style, to everyone who donated the items, and to all who purchased them. An anonymous benefactor generously offered to match, dollar for dollar, the entire proceeds of the auction; thus, the restoration project coffers swelled from $3,420 to $6,840. Thank you!

    The Gala was a tremendous success. Overall we raised $24,000. On behalf of the Glengarry Fencibles Trust executive, sincere and heartfelt thanks are extended to all who assisted in any way.

© The Glengarry News, Wednesday, April 24, 2019. Page 7

All rights reserved.

2019 Gala Dinner
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