Musings – Spring 2015

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News and information from the latest edition of the MRBS newsletter.MRBS President’s Message from Vandra Masemann

WE NEED YOUR HELP!

You may be surprised to know that fewer than 20 Malvernites actually supported us financially last year. The MRBS Executive is facing a difficult financial future. The rise in the Canada Post rates and the downturn in donations to the MRBS in 2014 have had a negative impact on our bottom line. While we have set aside donations for specific purposes, such as the Sequester Project and the Big Book restoration, we cannot continue our work under these circumstances. It costs $1400 for each mailing of the Musings: printing, paper, envelopes, stamps, and mass emailing charges. For 2015-2016, our Treasurer has projected that we need a yearly income of $2800 for two mailings of the Musings, $500 for archival supplies, and just over $200 for website expenses. This amount of $3500 does not include special projects or Reunion start-up expenses. So far, we have not had to charge membership fees.

WHAT HAVE WE ACCOMPLISHED?

In the last ten years, with your assistance, we have accomplished a great deal. By volunteering every month since 2003, we have set up an extensive archive, going back to 1903 and serving the school for its present needs. We have helped to fund-raise to save the Malvern Pool and to restore the Malvern Cenotaph. We have organised at least four very successful Reunions. We have established a newsletter, a website and a Facebook page for Malvernites to communicate amongst themselves. We have given an annual award at Commencement, suggested speakers, and encouraged veterans to attend Remembrance Day. We have attended Malvernites’ funerals, and visited graves of Malvernites killed in wars. We have made it possible for you to find old friends or school records of your parents and grandparents. We have done this on a small budget of around $3000 and above each year.

WHAT ARE THE SOLUTIONS TO OUR PRESENT CRISIS?

There are now about 600 of you who receive the paper Musings and about 700 on email who have given consent to receive our emails. If you are willing to receive the Musings by email, please let us know. Your Express Consent to receive MRBS emails is required, so please see the Registration Page.

You can get a tax receipt by mailing your donation cheque for $10 or more payable to the Onward Malvern Foundation (OMF), with MRBS on the memo line, and mailing it to us c/o the MRBS at the school address shown above in the masthead. Please do this by June 1, 2015. You can also make your donation online by visiting our Donations page.

Volunteering to help out with the work is also important. We need volunteers for positions on the MRBS and the Onward Malvern Foundation. While the MRBS was founded mainly by Malvernites from the 1950s and 1960s, we need to get the grads from other decades to volunteer for some of the positions.

Running for office is also a crucial factor in the continued existence of the MRBS. We had no nominations in the last two years. If the MRBS is going to survive, it needs to be renewed. It can be remade to suit the next generation of Malvernites. Think about it!


Last November 2014 at Malvern’s Commencement, Trombonist Russ Little delivered the following memorable address.

Good evening and a warm welcome to staff, families of the graduates, board officials and, of course, the 2014 graduating class of Malvern Collegiate. When the Malvern staff first asked me to address this year’s graduating class, they suggested, wisely I think, that I paint with a broad brush and discuss my memories of Malvern, any life-lessons learned and my artistic accomplishments, if any.

Well, I can cover the artistic aspect of my life in a quick sentence or two: Basically, I’ve been very, very lucky. I’ve either performed with, or recorded with, or written music for, most of the major North American musical acts of the past 60 years, including rock, classical, country, pop and jazz, everybody from Prince to Tony Bennett, Michael Jackson to Frank Sinatra, Madonna to Aretha Franklin, and just about everyone in between. I still love every minute of it, and I wouldn’t trade places with anyone else in this world. That said, I’m going to take a few minutes to briefly tell you a little bit about my early life and to make a couple of suggestions to you, based on what I’ve learned so far.

Like many of you out there this evening, I was born in Toronto East General Hospital. My parents, Jack and Marie, one white and one black, had chosen to take the difficult path of a mixed-race marriage. Their relationship couldn’t survive the casual and generally-accepted prejudice of Toronto in the 1930s, so, when they inevitably separated, I was raised and cared for, by a series of relatives, in the wildly mountainous Jamaica of the early 1940s.

As a very small boy, running around, virtually unsupervised, on a small tropical island, I spent most of my pre-adolescent years living with my Uncle Andrew and my Aunt Minnie, in a tiny, hot and dusty mountain village, called Brownstown. The town was perched high on the upper slopes of Jamaica’s North Coast Mountains, but despite the relative poverty and isolation of our home, I was never bored.

Almost every day, my Uncle Andrew and I would bury corn and breadfruit in hot coals, and then we’d blissfully devour them hours later. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, local farm workers would routinely string up some luckless cow and publicly butcher it as it hung from a tree. Or, for a truly psychedelic experience, I’d amble down a jungle trail, to an ancient stone flour mill. There I would sit, a very small boy, eavesdropping and utterly mesmerized by the mind-blowing sight of 12 very black men, completely covered in pure white flour, seated around a mill stone, and endlessly chattering back and forth like gossiping ghosts.

While still a very small boy, I eventually returned to Toronto in the late 1940s, and I found that I had a lot of learning to do. For one thing, my teachers and class-mates couldn’t understand a word that came out of my mouth. As I would have said at that time, “mi ‘av a h’accent, you know. An’ ‘im tik-so, dat mi haffee lick ‘im wit machete a chop troo.” So the accent definitely had to go. And then I found that, even though I adored my old Jamaican granny who had offered to care for me while I was in Canada, I deeply envied all of the other kids on my street. They had moms and dads and wonderfully typical families, and a regular, normal pattern to their lives, something that I would have given anything to enjoy, had it been available.

Throughout my later grade-school days at Kimberley Public School, I was a turbulent, angry little fella, always in trouble, always fighting, always disruptive. And then I arrived at Malvern. And my world changed. Now, looking back with the benefit of 73 years of perspective, I can see, in the rear-view mirror of my life, that Malvern Collegiate was the most amazing seed-bed a young person could ever be offered.

I’ll give you just one example of the kind of dedication and caring spirit that embodies the Malvern tradition. While I attended Malvern, my music teacher, the legendary George McRae, offered me endless patience and encouragement. Then, a few years after Malvern and University of Toronto, I found myself invited to join one of the dream jazz bands at that time, the world famous Woody Herman Orchestra. On my very first night performing with the band, I walked onstage at the Scotch Mist, a notorious Mafia hangout in the heart of south-side Chicago. I was onstage early, because I had just flown in from Toronto, a green and naïve young kid, who was experiencing his first night as lead trombonist and soloist for this famous jazz orchestra. As I sat down in the 1st trombone chair and nervously thumbed through the music, a voice from the gloom beyond the stage lights said, “Sit up straight, Little!” I literally froze with shock. I knew that voice! Mr. McRae had secretly flown down from Toronto to support me on my opening night. A few years later, he also flew down to New York City to see my first performance with the great Count Basie Band. To this day, and for the last 56 years, George McRae and I continue to visit and phone each other regularly. We are very warm friends.

By inviting me to address you all, you’ve given me a golden opportunity to lay out some self-important blather, but if I’ve learned one thing after almost 60 years as a professional musician, it’s that I still have no wisdom to impart to anyone. No wisdom, no wise words of experience, no rules for living, nothing like that. My life is as full of mistakes, bad decisions, and wrong turns, as has everybody here this evening, but I’ve tried to learn and I do have two or three simple suggestions, things that my life, so far, has taught me.

My first suggestion to improve the quality of your life is this: Read for Pleasure.

I know that we all read: We read for instructions, for rules; we read textbooks and reports. In short, we read for function and for survival, but I’m talking about something else, entirely. No, I’m not talking about reading your Facebook Timeline, or your Twitter Feed. I’m talking about Reading for Pleasure. Reading for Pleasure, either fiction, or non-fiction, will help you to understand the world and its people, and it’ll give you good insight into your own motivation, and the motivation and needs of others. Reading for enjoyment and pleasure will make you a much more interesting and engaging person, because, in part, it’ll vastly increase not only your vocabulary, but also your ability to express yourself, your thoughts and your needs, to others. The practice of habitual reading will take a shallow and disinterested youth, one who gives every indication of developing into a perfectly normal, middle-aged bore, and, in its place will create an interesting, responsive, and engaging conversationalist. You cannot become an interesting conversationalist if you have neither informed opinions, nor the knowledge and understanding on which they’re based. It doesn’t matter if you read online, or printed material, magazines, books, newspapers or an e-reader, but for your own sake, READ. If you make a habit and practice of reading for enjoyment, you’ll have the bricks and mortar by which you can create, build, and establish your own opinions. Reading will lead you to find your own special role in this vast and confusing performance-space called Life. Read, because believe me, you are NOT smart enough to figure it all out by yourself.

My next suggestion is to try and develop an interest and respect for the Power of the Arts. Our annoying species has been on this planet for between 100,000 to 200,000 years, emerging as we did, from Africa about 60,000 years ago. And for almost all of that time, the high purpose and necessity and, indeed, the near-divinity of the arts, have been absolutely unquestioned. Today, however, we live in unique times. We live in a business culture which has, of course, delivered many wonderful material gifts, from toaster ovens to Teslas. But no one has ever gone to their grave wishing that they’d spent more time at the office.

And in all of that rush to acquire those shiny toys and the money to buy them, we need to remember the wise words of a very wise man, my dear Jamaican step-father, Winston Stuart, who, in his distinctive West-Indian accent said to me one morning, some years ago, “Russell, suppose that one day an alien race of Beings were to visit our planet. And on seeing the mess that we’d made of things, they threatened us with immediate extinction. But first those aliens challenged us to show them some worthy human being who might justify our continued existence: Would we show them Bill Gates, or Leonardo Da Vinci? Steve Jobs, or Mozart? Donald Trump or Shakespeare?”

I recall that conversation with my step-father whenever I doubt the enduring power and influence of the Arts. Without the Arts, we’re a species. With the Arts we’re a civilization. Whether through Poetry, Prose, Sculpture, Dance, Painting, or Music, the Arts help us to experience, more fully, the awesome beauty of being simply human. I suggest that you teach yourself to respect their insight and to respect their power.

And finally, I suggest that you heed the words of the wisest person I’ve ever met and learn to, “Fly Your Own Flag!” Never before in human history has there been such intense pressure to conform to society’s expectations or to other people’s expectations. And yet to do so, is almost the very definition of stressful pressure. It’s in the wonderful uniqueness of our true selves that we are all most beautiful. When you are being truly yourself, it’s a lovely thing to behold.

Many years ago, when my children, Nic and Mike, were attending our local public school, they asked me, “Dad, how can we be popular in school; how can we make other kids like us?”   My answer would be the same today as it was then. “There are two ways: the easier course is to be as much like your friends as you can be, dress like them, talk like them, express the same opinions, and do not deviate. Or, you can take the tougher road and, if you think that you’re strong enough and confident enough, present yourself as honestly and openly as you can. The result is strikingly beautiful, surprisingly relaxing and incredibly, magnetically attractive. You do not need to be physically beautiful. If you are being exactly who you are, there is no aspect of yourself that is more desirable or more appealing, to yourself and to others.”

So, there you have it, three suggestions for today’s frantic, competitive and turbulent world. They may seem impractical to you, and I fully understand that view, because reading for pleasure, or approaching the Arts, or trying hard to discover who you truly are (and then working to be that person) are all huge, and hugely important enterprises, but my little life has shown me that they are worthwhile and rewarding endeavours.

It has been a privilege to speak to you, and it’s also been a great deal of fun. And, however you may define it, I wish you great success in your future life. Thank you very, very much. Good evening.


THE ONWARD MAVERN FOUNDATION URGENTLY REQUESTS DONATIONS FOR NEW MALVERN BAND UNIFORMS. PLEASE DONATE! THESE DAYS, EACH UNIFORM COSTS OVER $1000! FOR MORE DETAILS SEE THIS LETTER FROM LORI MCCAULEY, OMF PRESIDENT.


Bill Glenesk (1926-2014) by Robert Watson

The Reverend William Bill Glenesk, known as Bill Glenesk at Malvern, and written up in the Malvern Centennial Book (2003) as part of the Glenesk family, passed away on 18 May 2014, at Whixley, in Yorkshire, U.K. A Memorial Service was held at the Sherrin Funeral Home on Kingston Road, near Beech Avenue, on 6 December 2014. Words of Remembrance were spoken by his brother Ron Glenesk, and Ron’s wife, Barbara Whitney, and by the Very Reverend N. Bruce McLeod, a former Moderator of the United Church of Canada. The MRBS was represented by Robert Watson, Treasurer.

The Glenesk family took their name from a Glen, or narrow valley, situated near the region of Strathmore in Scotland, on the east coast between Dundee to the south and Aberdeen to the north. The Esk River is divided into North and South branches, and ‘Glen Esk’ borders the North branch. While at the University of Toronto, Victoria College, Bill worked at Woodgreen Community Centre on the east side of Toronto. It was there while working with teenagers that the Reverend Ray McLeary encouraged him to pursue a career in the United Church. After completing his ministerial training, he went to serve the Church at Magnetewan in Central Ontario, north of Huntsville.

Later on, in his time at Spencer Memorial Church in Brooklyn Heights (near the edge of Queens) on Remsen Street, he associated with the likes of Tom Wolfe, John Cage, Jules Feiffer, Ralph Ginsberg, Lennie Bruce, and Norman Mailer. Mailer lived nearby, and the Brooklyn Bridge and even the Statue of Liberty could be seen from his home. The church had great carved oak walls, and Glenesk practiced his theory there that the church is theatre.

He became a media darling in New York City with the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune and Look Magazine all of which extolled his reputation as a “rebel in a Brooklyn pulpit.” By 1966, he was indisputably famous, or infamous depending on which side of the generation gap you stood. A memorable man indeed.


In Memoriam

Students:

Robert (Bob) Burgener, 16 Jan. 2015
Keith Caldwell, 12 Aug. 2014
Ross Paul Creber, 26 Sept. 2014
Karen Anne (Gillis) Duff, 21 Feb. 2015
Juliana MacKenzie, 19 Nov. 2014
Daniel J.G. Madden, 24 Feb.2015
Julie Eve Magahay, 25 March 2015
William (Bill) Provan, 13 Sept. 2014
Marion (Kidd) Thivy, 10 Jan. 2015

Staff:

Stewart Passmore, Teacher, 1 Dec. 2014
William Leslie Wright, Vice-Principal and Principal, 4 Feb. 2015.

May They Rest in Peace


Trip to War Graves, Becklingen, Germany by Vandra and Volker Masemann

In January 2014, we went to Germany because Vandra had a meeting in Hamburg. Our MRBS Executive member, David Fuller, asked us if we wanted to visit any war graves as we were going to drive to Holland after that. He made several suggestions, and we chose Becklingen as it was about a two-hour detour on our way from Hamburg. You may be surprised to know that the bodies of Malvernites from both World Wars are buried in many sites in Europe. We had, alas, several sites to choose from.

The weather on 21 January was really quite dreary. We left Hamburg in a fog that gradually changed to mist and then it froze, settling in all the crevices of the trees and bushes like a white powdery frosting. After we left the Autobahn going southwest from Hamburg, we were in a very rural setting that looked like a white fairyland. We drove down a secondary country road and saw the sign British Military Cemetery on our right. We knew from our previous experience to look in the wall of the stone gate at the entrance for the book with all the names and gravestone locations. Sure enough, we found the two Malvernites whom David Fuller had identified, Flying Officer Peter Burne (Malvern 1937-1940) and Flight Sergeant David Fenton (Malvern 1934-1936). Vandra laid red roses on their graves, as well as on the two graves of two others who died on the same date as Peter Burne. We were sad to see the graves of so many Canadians, British, Australian, New Zealand, and Polish and Russian servicemen from World War Two. If any readers want to see photographs of the graves, please contact us.


NEWS AND NOTES

Malvern Cenotaph – the Malvern War Memorial Committee met in January to discuss the possibilities for repair to the statue that was vandalised in August 2014. In this recent case, the sword was removed from the hand. We mainly talked about the need for better security before undertaking another repair, as well as legal issues. We are asking you as Malvernites for any ideas you have about securing the statue more effectively in future. Please email us at redandblack@malverncollegiate.com with your suggestions.

The World War II “Big Book.” We applied to the Canadian Conservation Institute for their program of conservation treatment services of important heritage items. We learned in February that our application was not successful because of insufficient funding. It may, however, be possible to re-apply. It depends on its priorities in the coming years.


Life after Malvern: The View from Sioux Lookout by Joyce Timpson (Class of 1963)

After Malvern, I entered the University of Toronto Honour Science program, planning to attend medical school. I soon realized that the laboratory was not for me but managed to graduate from General Science. To sort out what I wanted to do, I took a job as a social services assistant at the Centre for Mental Health and Addictions and then decided to pursue Social Work, eventually graduating from University of Windsor’s M.S.W. program. I then worked for three years with troubled youth at Metro Toronto Children’s Aid Society. Next, I fulfilled a lifelong dream to backpack around the world for two years, visiting South America, Africa, India and South East Asia. Such as experience often makes people somewhat unsuited to return to an ordinary life. Seeking more adventure, I contacted a friend who was a consulting psychiatrist to the area, who told me about Sioux Lookout where I landed a job. I intended to stay a year. And here I am 39 years later.

Sioux Lookout, a town of about 5,500 located 400 km north-west of Thunder Bay, is the social and medical services hub for 30 remote First Nations. I arrived not long before government services were being transferred to the First Nations to run themselves. Ontario’s far north is one of Canada’s closely guarded secrets. The 30 communities are mostly accessible only by small aircraft and together occupy a geographic area the size of France. At that time, English was not the first language for most people and the communities engaged heavily in hunting and trapping as the source of livelihood. Even now the people are but a generation or so away from their traditional lifestyle. I became involved in working with the communities in developing and taking over their own mental health services. The cultural and language difference made delivery of such services by those who were not First Nations difficult and at times impossible. The northern First Nations face numerous challenges with the rapid change in lifestyle and the history of colonization.

After an intense 11 years, I felt the need to move on. I was accepted into a Ph.D. program at Wilfrid Laurier and spent five years studying First Nations policy trying to make sense of my northern experience. My thesis was entitled Four Decades of Child welfare services to Native Indians in Ontario: A contemporary attempt to understand the “Sixties Scoop” in historical, socioeconomic, and political perspective. Although I did subsequently did some teaching at the College level, I soon realized that full time academia was not for me. I returned to Sioux Lookout where for 21 years I have worked as an independent consultant to First Nations organizations in the development of self-governing services. I have participated in some exciting research including work with the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and have done extensive research into the inordinate rates of suicide amongst young First Nations people in the North. To satisfy my academic leanings, I published 11 peer reviewed articles.

I doubt that I would have stayed in social work had it not been the unique challenges of the North. But Sioux Lookout has not only been about work and career. Every day we enjoy what others enjoy after by driving many hours on a week-end or holiday. Daily we can cross-country ski in winter and swim and fish in pristine lakes in the summer. We can be involved in numerous community endeavours. I developed a love for cross-country skiing and annually ski in the Thunder Bay Sleeping Giant 20 km Loppet as a fundraiser for an organization of which I am the Board Chairperson. The practice keeps me fit and makes some money for the Friends of Cedar Bay as well.

In 2006, my career took another turn when I was elected to Sioux Lookout’s Municipal Council. I have been able to bring my knowledge of the North to the political table seeking ways that, as a municipality, we can work with the First Nations to bring prosperity to all. I still do work contracts, currently assisting communities develop programs that address the devastation of the addiction to opioids that has gripped them. I love Sioux Lookout and Toronto equally. I have wonderful memories of growing up in the Beach, the Malvern Band, and the exceptional teachers we had who inspired me to the adventure of travel and the North.

Author: David Fuller

MRBS Webmaster and parent of two MCI graduates (2011 & 2015) and another very bright son. Decade representative for 1903-1939 and Service Personnel.

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