Name: Gerry Garnett
Are you planning to attend the MCHS 60s Reunion on October 17, 2015? Maybe
Year you graduated from MCHS: 1964; Class: 11-C
Homeroom teacher: Mr. Lewis
What activities were you involved in at MCHS? NOT MUCH! In those days, and still somewhat today, I was very shy and self conscious. Adding that, I travelled via school bus from Pierrefonds. it was then easy to talk myself out of getting involved in after-school activities. Despite that, or perhaps because of that, I became Class President in Grade 11. I still don’t know how that happened. One duty that I didn’t relish, despite being a regular at Church, was finding a classmate to read a bible passage each morning. This was a regular morning ritual in Mr. Lewis’ homeroom. Times have changed.
Was there someone or something at MCHS that you remember in particular?
Mr. Allan was our math teacher, and thanks to his suggestion, I decided to pursue engineering which led to a career which I loved. I really enjoyed his classes and found him to be interesting, fun and challenging. I also enjoyed Mr. Hill for history, and Mr. Lafon and Mr. Christmas for French.
What did you do after graduating? Straight to University.
Did you continue your education? If so, where and what did you achieve? After MCHS, i took 2 years of Engineering at McGill, then followed my parents to Vancouver (beautiful!) to finish my degree at UBC. A story I like to share is the “culture shock” I experienced when switching from McGill to UBC. McGill – shirt & tie, jacket, quiet and attentive in class, hand raised to speak. UBC – dirty sweat shirts, lunch bags tossed around, booing the prof if an error appeared on the board, walk in and out at will. It certainly didn’t take me long to adjust.
After UBC, I headed to UofT for a masters in engineering, chosen partly because of being closer to Chicago than Vancouver was, and my finance was living in Chicago.
Did you start a job? If so, where? I joined Ontario Hydro after my Masters degree and enjoyed my work on Transmission Planning and Transmission Operations for almost 10 years. My wife was getting tired of my longing to move to Vancouver and finally relented. We moved to Vancouver and I then worked for BC Hydro in the same line of work. My work in both companies included projects and activities with neighbouring utilities, which gave me many opportunities to travel to cities in the east and west, which I often extended so that I would become a tourist for a day or two. Though I was an engineer, moving up into management and with changes in the electrical utility industry, I became involved in the re-regulation, which included participation in development of contracts and agreements and in applications to the BC Utilities Commission. Boring? I found it challenging, interesting, cutting edge.
I retired in 2005, then did consulting work for BC Hydro for a few years. My wife and I decided to move from the beautiful city of Vancouver to Vancouver Island, which had became a big, busy city, to the peace and quiet of small-town living in Parksville. It was fate – my last two days as a consultant to BC Hydro were as a witness for BC Hydro at a BC Utilities Commission Hearing and these were the the same two days that our movers loaded up the truck from the old place and unloaded it into our new home. It is now 6 years since moving to Paradise (aka Parksville), and we still love it here. I still miss the work, but I enjoy not working much more.
What kind of work did you eventually get into? Are you still doing it?
Did you move to another province or country? If so, why, when, and where?
Did you travel abroad? If so, where? I’ve been everywhere, Man, I’ve been everywhere. Not really, but I love to kid around. I’ve been to many places in the states and have had 5 round-trip road trips to Chicago from Vancouver (to visit my mother-in-law). We’ve also driven across Canada a couple of times. Overseas: Caribbean once, Alaska Cruise once, Danube River Twice, Scotland twice, ireland once, England once. Future plans – Orient, France
Do you have a partner or significant other? Do you have any kids? I met my Chicagoan wife in Quebec City where she was taken summer french classes and I had a summer job. We married in 1970 and have 4 adopted kids. Three are First Nation and one is from Korea. We have 2 granddaughters.
Are you still working? If so, where and in what capacity? no.
Are you retired? If so, what kinds of activities are you involved in? All my life I have been involved in various roles in my church, and that continues to today. In addition, I’m also involved in our Strata Council. Being in a leadership position in both at the same time certainly challenges me on time management, and puts a crimp in the other things that I’d like to do. Those other things were one of the drivers for me choosing retirement. However, these roles will be ending and I’ll get back to my other pleasures in life.
I was never an “athlete” in my MCHS days, but I’ve always enjoyed “playing” at sports. I was a fairly regular runner/jogger and sometimes rode my bike. In 2012 I decided to celebrate my 65th birthday by riding my bicycle across Canada. It was fantastic and I loved it (even more so when I forget about the terrible rain and strong headwinds). So, as my volunteer work diminishes, I’ll be riding more and getting out in my kayak once in awhile.
There is one thing that amazes me, as I reflect on what I’ve been able to do compared to how I felt at MCHS. I was shy, self conscious and extremely nervous speaking in front of people, even my classmates. Class president in grade 11? How did that happen. I still remember my first official speech in English Class. Both hands in pockets, leaning over to see my notes and daring not to look at anyone. Sweat dripping from every pore in my body. Dying to get to the last word in my notes. Now? I am still a little nervous, but I’ve been in front of many groups giving speeches, chairing meetings, answering questions etc., and I never imagined I would get to that point, especially when I gave my first public speech in a puddle of sweat! I guess the words of my teachers did embed themselves in my brain and i was able to make use of that knowledge. And – I’m glad I did.
Where are you living now? Paradise! (Parksville, BC. it’s on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo).
In the years since graduating, do you have a particularly special memory that you’d like to share? I had lots of classmates that I enjoyed hanging around with – in my case it was mainly at school and had little interactions with them on the home front. But – I have fond memories of many classmates that shared time with me in my 3 years at MCHS (1961-64).
Would you like your former classmates to contact you? If yes, how? email, facebook
[Please let us know if it’s okay to include your email address as part of the biography that is posted online. Some people like to have their emails listed, some don’t.] Yes it is okay.
Address: 1228 Gabriola Drive, Parksville, BC, V9P 2T5
1) photo from album – fine with me, 1964 and 2015 images included [above].