Born into pretty severe poverty in Montreal’s Villeray district. (1933 was a bad year to be born.)
Attended Crystal Springs School, a four-room school built to the same design as the original version of Cartierville School.
Failed grade 10, was failing grade 11 when principal called me down to say, “Let’s face it, Decarie, you have no brains at all. Go find a job”.
Then spent four years as minor clerk at Bell. Hated it – and would probably have been fired for incompetence. Meanwhile, I had slipped into Sir George Williams though I didn’t have a high school leaving certificate. That led to getting a part time job training as a YMCA director – at Northmount Y. The BA still incomplete, I quit the Y to do a year of teacher training.
Did my practice teaching at Parkdale School where the principal (the son of Malcolm Campbell) offered me a job. Taught there while finishing BA at night. I passed. But my grades were so low, they wouldn’t give me even a major (in history). But it was a degree; so I was sent to teach at MCHS.
Quit after three years on a sudden impulse to do an MA at Acadia – even though I had never been accepted, and didn’t have anywhere close to the grades. That day, I drove to Nova Scotia to tell a shocked dean I wanted to do an MA in history. I was nowhere near qualified. So he set tough rules. I had to do another undergrad year, and get straight As.
[The decision to go for his MA was made, as Graeme Decarie notes in a previous post, on the first day of the 1963-64 school year.]
MA and PhD in history
So I did it, then spent a year doing an MA with straight As. (My rooming house was the home of an elderly woman. I later wrote a story about her for Reader’s Digest which more than paid my living expenses for the two years.) Then it was the Big Time at Queen’s where I did a PhD.
Taught three years at University of PEI, then some 35 at Concordia where I was History chair for several terms. I had discovered that from my first day at Parkdale, I loved teaching. I was very happy at it; and I miss it terribly.
Radio and TV career
On the side, I became a radio broadcaster, first at CBC for a dozen years until they fired me for becoming chairman of Alliance Quebec – then a dozen years at CJAD arguing politics with Gord Sinclair and Tommy Shnurmaker, and doing daily editorials. (Got a best in Canada award for at least one year of that.)
Also did lots of television, usually political commentary, but also did a full show for Global just about me.
I wrote for, advised on, was interviewed for NFB films. For one, Notman’s Montreal, I did all the above, plus the voice-over. Outside of Canada, I also did some TV for BBC, and NBC.
I was also busy writing for newspapers and magazines, and giving some 60 public talks a year. About 15 or twenty years ago, the teacher’s convention named me “Quebec Social Studies teacher of the year”. I loved it.
But I had found university teachers the worst I had ever seen, and they reminded me of the many public school administrators I had known. So that was the topic of my thank you speech. The teachers liked it. But the platform party decided to form a circle around me as protection from a threatening and angry group of principals.
China and the Netherlands
Along the way I spent considerable time teaching in China and the Netherlands.
I keep myself busy now with a blog on how bloody awful our news media are. It gets a strong Canadian audience but, surprisingly, a bigger foreign one, including U.S., France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine. To find it, just google Graeme Decarie. The first page should have at least one entry for Moncton Times and Transcript: Good and bad.
[To access the blog, you can click on it at the link at the start of the preceding paragraph.]
This is way longer than it should be – but there’s so much I enjoyed on the way – and MCHS was very much a part of that.
I got married in New Brunswick, had two daughters, was divorced. Had a long bachelorhood, then married again about twenty years ago and fathered twin sons and a daughter. And, such is life, have been separated for about four years. I’m also grandfather to three girls. All of them were and still are joys.
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[For additional posts featuring Graeme Decarie, do a search for his name at the internal search engine at this website. Usually when I post a new and lengthy item featuring Mr. Decarie, the average number of daily visits to my site stays at close to double the average number of visits, for about a week. It is amazing to see how much interest there is.]