Donald McMaster graduated from MCHS in 1967 and went on to study Electrical Engineering

I’ve recently (Mar. 27, 2016) mailed a DVD with the MCHS yearbooks from 1961-62 to 1973-74 to Donald McMaster (MCHS 1967). As I’ve mentioned, the yearbook DVDs were distributed at the MCHS 2015 Reunion in Toronto on Oct. 17, 2015. I’ve also been sending them out to grads who were not at the reunion but who have heard they are available.

Donald has shared with us the following memories of MCHS [corrections have been made regarding names in line with comment (see below) from Doug Hambley]

I graduated from MCHS in 1967 and was in Tim Christmas’s Home room Class, then to McGill University for Electrical Engineering and I now live in Ottawa with my Wife Janet. We have 4 children and 3 grandchildren

The only classmates I am in contact with are Jerry Maffree( 67), Doug Hambley ( 67) and Dave Simmons ( 68)

As far as my memories of MCHS.

We lived on Depatie Street a few blocks from MCHS and I remember playing in the construction site. As I recall there once was a horse stable there. I went to Morison School from 1956 to 1963. I attended MCHS from 1963 to 1967.

As far as my years at MCHS I was a bit of Nerd and spent most of my time there studying (math, physics, chemistry and history) and I went on to get a degree in Electrical Engineering at McGill ( 73). I was however a sprinter on the track and field team and on the Chess team. The track team did not do that well, in part due to lack of coaching; but the chess team finished 3rd in the City Championships.

As far as my teachers were concerned I remember Gordon Eckersley my grade 8 math teacher who had a great tenor voice, which helped our class in the Christmas class choir competitions. In grade 9 I remember Mr Aiken our geometry teacher, who smoked a lot and started to pace in front of the class just before the bell rang and then ran to the teachers room to get a smoke.

I also remember Gordon Gilmour our gym teacher who ran to school and in the Boston marathon. He had a way of disciplining boys when you misbehaved in his class; you had a choice between being hit by a shoe on your rear end in front of the class or staying after school. Most boys took the shoe. Most of the boys held him in great respect. Mr Cunningham our grade 9 math teacher would have you do laps of the school yard for discipline, which some of the girls found a bit hard to take .

In Grade 10 and 11 I remember Mr Kiss our Physics and Chemistry Teacher. Both were tough courses which prepared me well for University.

I also remember the school elections one year where I believe Brian ( or David/) Neufeld ran as the playboy candidate for president as a joke. Miss ( Mrs?) Blackwell our history teacher took great exception to this and lectured us all on the seriousness of the election process.

Thanks for send the DVD.

Donald McMaster (Class of 1967)

[End of comments]

Double-checked to make sure it’s okay to post the memories

I double-checked with Donald to confirm that it’s okay to post his memories. He said it’s okay to post. I also had sent Donald a link to an MCHS Bio that Gerry Garnet had written for the MCHS 2015 website:

MCHS Bio for Gerry Garnett (MCHS ’64)

[End of comments from Jaan Pill]

Additional comments from Donald

In a subsequent email, Donald McMaster replied:

The Gerry Garnet Bio is interesting. He went to Mcgill as well but finished in UBC. My career took me to Ottawa where I worked for the Canadian Patent Office as an Examiner and as a IT Automation specialist.

Occasionally I go back to Montreal. A few years ago my wife and I took part in the Tour de L’ile cycle route on our tandem bicycle. The route took us past my old house on Depatie and the former MCHS building.

[End of comment from Donald McMaster]

Additional comments from Jaan regarding additional memories MCHS grads may wish to share

I welcome any other memories from MCHS grads. It’s always so interesting to learn more, about the different experiences that MCHS grads have had.

By way of an update on my own current pursuits, I’m making good progress on a report about local history that I’ve been working on for the past several weeks. I really enjoy such projects. I keep on learning new ways to get better at focusing on the task at hand. For the past month or so, I’ve pretty well stopped borrowing books from the Toronto Public Library, a pastime that used to take up enormous amounts of my time. I enjoy reading library books and also I enjoy taking a break from all the reading.

Have stopped reading newspapers, for now

As well, I’ve stopped reading newspapers, specifically so that I could focus on the research project I’ve been working on. That’s worked out great. I keep up to date with the news via Twitter, which takes much less time than reading a newspaper (whether online or in print). As well, through Twitter, I also have the opportunity to read some longread, in-depth articles from time to time, through learning about them via Twitter feeds from places like the Brookings Institution.

I prefer Twitter

I use Facebook mainly in the way that I use Twitter – to share links that I find of interest, and to catch up on any posts that may be turning up at the three Facebook pages, that I follow, that have to do with Malcolm Campbell High School. I can’t imagine spending hours and hours on Facebook but every person has a different approach to such matters.

Sitting is the new smoking

I also like to keep up to date on research about a wide range of topics. By way of example, research about the hazards of sitting all day have prompted me to spend no more than four hours a day sitting down. I spend part of my day working at my laptop at a sit-down desk, and then I move the laptop to a small stand-up desk (a regular desk with a  carton on top of it) right next to the other desk. As well, I have a stand-up desk in still another room, so I’m always walking back and forth from one room to another as I work on some writing task.

In  this way, I get the benefits of moving around all day, and of working sitting down and standing up, without the need to buy a variable-height computer desk, and without the need to install a treadmill under the standing desk. What I like about this arrangement is that it’s based on recent research indicating that the evidence isn’t in yet, regarding whether the health payoffs justify spending some enormous sum on a variable-height computer desk.


Also by way of keeping up with research, I engage in high-intensity cardiovascular/strength training workouts three days a week, and spend an hour walking on other days. I also enjoy doing strength training at a very simple, basic fitness centre (with a clean and tidy weight training room), operated by the City of Toronto in the neighbourhood where I live.

I follow a periodization schedule – again, based on my reading of research, in this case about strength training – in which, every few months, for a period of two weeks I do workouts at reduced intensity and then go through three weeks of anatomical adaptation, before resuming high intensity workouts.

The research indicates that periodization makes for better gains in strength than just working out doing the same high-intensity routines all through the year. In order to make progress, the research indicates, the body like the mind needs regular periods of work at a more leisurely pace along with periods of high-intensity work.

When I was younger, I would not have cared less about evidence and evidence-based practice, but in my forties I had reason to learn about such topics. I’m really pleased I did.


13 replies
  1. Doug Hambley
    Doug Hambley says:

    I enjoyed seeing the comments from Don McMaster. A couple of corrections, though. Mr. Eckersley’s first name was Gordon, not Ray and Mr. Gilmour’s first name was also Gordon. After MCHS, I attended Grade 12 at High School of Montreal, where I tied for the Physics Prize. When I came to pick it up in the Fall of 68 when in town for a football game against McGill (I studied Mining Engineering at Queen’s, I discovered that by that time Gordie Gilmour was teaching Phys. Ed at HSM…

    • Jaan Pill
      Jaan Pill says:

      I have made the corrections in the post, Doug, to ensure we are on track on keeping the spelling letter-perfect when it comes to names.

      I was most interested to read that Gordon Gilmour eventually was teaching Phys Ed at the High School of Montreal.

  2. Nancy Ingerville-Renz
    Nancy Ingerville-Renz says:

    HI Don, I was in your home room class in ’67 with Mr. Christmas.

    Missed you at the reunion, a great time was had by all!

    I also remember Gordon Eckersley. He was my home room teacher in Grade 8 & 9. We sang Jingle Bell Rock in the class Christmas competition ….we must have made the final few because I remember we sang in front of the school …we didn’t win but had a blast!!

    Take care and maybe I’ll see you at the next reunion!!

    • Jaan Pill
      Jaan Pill says:

      Wonderful to know you are already thinking of the next reunion, Nancy!

      Your help with the staging of the March 2015 Reunion really made a difference, in ensuring the success of the event. The MCHS crests (like the ones on the MCHS sweaters of years ago) that you had made up, and that each attendee at the reunion received, was just one of the much-appreciated contributions that you made, to ensure that the event was a memorable and outstanding success.

      When work begins on the planning of a subsequent reunion, I would be pleased to help out by publicizing it at the Preserved Stories website.

      It’s not unusual to have a 60th high school reunion; one such reunion, that I know of, and that I will write about in future, when time permits, took place in the United States on the same evening, Oct. 17, 2015, as the MCHS reunion in Toronto.

      I’m also pleased that one of the results of the Oct. 17, 2015 reunion is that a number of people, that I’ve heard about, have subsequently met with other grads – such as Doug Singer (MCHS 1963) meeting with Tim Hewlings (MCHS 1963) – as a result of networking and renewal of contacts occasioned by the MCHS 2015 event. There is so much value in networking among MCHS grads, whatever the year may have been that people attended MCHS, and in the renewing of acquaintances.

      In some cases, people such as myself have been getting to know MCHS grads, from one’s own grad year and from other grad years, for the first time. There is much value in such networking as well. As MCHS grads, we have a lot to learn from each other, even in cases where we may not have had much contact during our high school years.

    • Don
      Don says:


      We sang Dulci Jubilo in the competition. I think we lost to 8A who sang the Little Drummer Boy.

      As I recall the Choir competition got more and more secular as time went on.

      I have only vague memories of you, Nancy, in my class. Maybe the class DVD will refresh my memory.

      I do remember there were 2 Elona’s in our class; Gossman and I believe Borizenko, who played the accordian beautifully . Tim Christmas sometimes mixed them up.

      The thing I remember most about is class was the dreaded French orals at the end of the year which everyone needed to pass to graduate High School. We also had to do French speeches at the front of the class which I found nerve racking. I didn’t really learn conversational French until much later, as part a required 6 month French immersion course in the Federal Public Service.


  3. graeme decarie
    graeme decarie says:

    It’s inspiring to hear of Jaan’s maintenance of healthy activity. I sometimes stand up, too, for a brisk walk to the washroom, a moment of reflection, and then briskly again back to my desk.

    I have to read newspapers from around the world every day because I do a blog on them. Luckily, there aren’t many good ones to read – and none of the good ones is in North America. The Guardian (UK) used to be the best English language paper in the world. But it has been slipping badly. The best now is al Jazeera, with Haaretz (Israel) next.

    But now, I must stand up for my daily stroll to bed.


  4. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Wonderful to read these great comments – including the spelling corrections, and the description of Graeme Decarie’s carefully worked out exercise routine!

    I will make the corrections regarding the names tomorrow. I am wiped out from standing at my laptop desk all day, working on a research project related to Long Branch, the community in Toronto where I now live.

  5. Myrth GAIL Howell de Vries
    Myrth GAIL Howell de Vries says:

    Hi, Folks,

    My name is Gail Howell de Vries. I transferred from St. Laurent High School to MCHS, in 1961, and was supposed to graduate from MCHS in 1961. But my progress through school was delayed, due to having several surgeries at the Shriners’ Hospital. I graduated, then, in 1963. My homeroom teacher was Mr. Tim Christmas, and, earlier, Mr. Lewis. A very happy time for me was spent in the Choir, led by Mr. Smith. We were a fabulous choir, and sang at Dr. Malcolm Campbell’s church, in 1961.

    My best friends were Lynda Spence, Dawson Campbell, Barclay Allen, and the rest of ‘the gang’. Together, we formed the Hosts and Hostesses group, for most extracurricular school activities.

    It was great fun to play our sports in a brand new gym with a new rubber tiled gym floor. Quite the innovation. Mr. Jim McGregor and Miss Jelinek were my P.E. teachers.

    My family and I moved to Brampton, ON, in July of ’63. And so, sadly, I never saw my friends again.

    I got married in Dec., ’65, and have lived in Bowmanville since then. If you watch the T.V. show ‘X Company’, Bowmanville was the location of the Camp. True. Sadly, my husband of 45 years, passed away 5 years ago. I am blessed with 2 daughters, who are 49 and 47 years old. Six tall grandchildren are my ‘beauties’…from ages 32 to 16. And, may I boast that I have 4 great-grandkids….12, 9, 4, and the first-born, who at the age of 2 1/2, went to play with Jesus, in Heaven, in 2004.

    For 27 years, our house was open to troubled teens. This work was the joy of my life….and so rewarding, too. While Walter was employed at G.M., in Oshawa, I was caring for other people’s kids. Many of these troubled kids went on to attend college or university. And I am so proud of them to this day. Being a mentor to the next generation is a heavy responsibility. I’ve loved almost every minute of it, and have precious memories of their achievements.

    Due to a severe illness, in 2015, I could not attend the Toronto Reunion. I would love to hear from any MCHS grads, and to have a DVD of our yearbooks.

    With best regards to everyone,

    M. Gail Howell de Vries

  6. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Wonderful to read your comment, Gail.

    Can you please send me an email at with your mailing address. I will mail you a copy of the DVD of the MCHS yearbooks from 1961-62 to 1973-74.

    As part of the planning process for the MCHS 2015 Reunion in Toronto on Oct. 17, 2015, many MCHS grads helped out, in lending us copies of the yearbooks, and in helping with the many hours of work entailed in the scanning of them. Each grad attending the reunion received a copy of the DVD.

    I’m really pleased that the DVD is available, and that any MCHS grad who wants to, can get a copy of it. There is so much value in reading the yearbooks, and in sharing memories from those years with fellow grads, as you have done, Gail. There is so much value in sharing of stories and memories, especially after all these years.

  7. Bob Carswell
    Bob Carswell says:

    Exercise is most important but sometimes just not possible. I suffer from a variety of family afflications…dyslexia, a single failing kidney running at 30%, genetic obesity problems, arthritis throughout my body, diabetes (under control), breathing problems and on it goes.

    Even so, I have been able to develop my arm and shoulder muscles by sitting three plastic milk cases on the edge of the bathtub. In each are 4 large orange juice containers and one smaller green one. In total each case weighs 27 pounds and I am forced to move them twice each day to take showers. By putting them on the toilet seat, they have to be moved back right away as it is a busy place for an old man with water problems.

    I understand that the shape I am in is a family characteristic and is a natural extension of who we are. I have an uncle who lived to the age of 80 and I can still wear his coat. His cousin ended up in a wheelchair and had to use canes to go to the bathroom. His father had a similar build but died in his fifties. His grandfather of whom I have a 1931 photograph taken on a summer visit to Kennebunk, Maine shows a similar large build. Under his bench one can see a pair of crutches which he constantly used to get around. He died at age 87 in 1942.

    It takes me days to recover from a day’s outing and generally that is largely sleeping. I try very hard to remove all of the stress in my life and I have learned to live in a certain way and not let life bother me….except for the infestation of tiny, tiny ants that seem to have come out of the woodwork this year. The ant trap I put down yesterday is working hard and things are really improving quickly. The ants are able to clean out one of those traps in a matter of hours given a chance and the whole nest comes to do it. I think they are also coming from a neighbour’s apartment through cracks in the wall under the bathroom sink. It is an old building. Where there used to be hundreds streaming down a path, there are now only about a dozen hanging around. Time to replace the now empty trap.

    Well tomorrow is another day of exercise for me as I have to go pick up my pills for the next month and then do some grocery shopping. Recovery will take two days and then coffee with Jaan on Friday afternoon will end out the week.

    I hope you all had a great Easter, my day trip to Whitby and back by GO train really did me in but forced me to catch up on a lot of sleep for the next few days after all that great turkey dinner thanks to my sister-in-law.

    • Jaan Pill
      Jaan Pill says:

      Wonderful to read your message, Bob.

      I like your story about the orange juice jugs.

      Our Easter has gone well. I’m at a Starbucks, working on a local history research project that I’ve been working on for several weeks. I’ll be posting a few items, in connection with it, at this website today. The website serves as a great way to organize my thinking. The fact a few people visit it from time to time, and leave comments, convinces me that the website serves as a useful way for us to share reflections.

      I’m looking forward to our next get together for coffee at the Birds & Beans cafe close to where you live, Bob. My 2001 Mazda is now on its last legs, over 240,000 km on it. For several months I’ve been doing photographic studies of the patterns created by ice, rain, and mud on the side panels. I also enjoy documenting the progress of the rust that has eaten away the body panels.

      When I back up the car, something makes a gorgeous clunking sound, as in metal happily slapping against medal. Whatever is clunking reverberates throughout the frame of the car like sledge hammer that has been tapped against the frame. An honest and reliable mechanic, named Vaughn Tanaka of Vaughn Auto has been looking after the car for many years.

      I’ve written about Vaughn at my website over the years. I learned of him by word of mouth from neighbours on my street many years ago. Thanks to Vaughn, the Mazda has been trucking along (as the expression from the Sixties goes), long after it would otherwise have been resting at a scrap heap. It’s destined for scrap in a week or so, but it will likely still be running early in April, so that I can drive you to the coffee shop.

      [March 30, 2016 update: It turned out today, that the Mazda is finished. The brakes have had it. No longer safe to drive. In the morning when I moved the car from the driveway, the brakes were still working. Although I was busy in the morning, it occurred to me that I should make a good-quality recording, with a Zoom H5 recorder, of the sound of the car as it was backing up. I set the recorder on a mini-tripod, on the street near the sidewalk, got in the car and backed up and drove down the street. It was around 6:00 am, everything was very quiet, except for the sound of a bird or birds singing, in the early morning. The recording came out beautifully. Later in the day, at noon when I drove the car, the grinding sound was gone. In its place was an ominous silence. When I pushed on the brake pedal, there was almost no resistance from the brake system. The brakes still worked at slow speeds. I carefully made my way home. The car’s in the driveway, ready for the scrapyard. I’m really pleased I recorded that sound of the grinding. I can build a video around that sound.

      [I’m writing this on a PC notebook. Usually I use an Apple notebook, which works much better with WordPress (which I use to create posts at the Preserved Stories website) than it does with the PC notebook I am using today. However, in a pinch, any notebook is better than none. Anyway, I’m pleased I began using a Zipcar a while back, in the realization that the 15-year-old Mazda was way past the time it should be on the road. What occurred with the brakes today was truly a wake up call for me. When a car is about to go, ditch it early, and move on, is what the wake up call has told me.]

      My own encounter with disability, the disability at any rate that I encountered at an earlier stage of my life, I was able, through a combination of happy circumstances, to deal with. For many years, as well, I worked in Special Education, with students whose disabilities were even more severe that the one that was part of my daily life from the age of six until I was 41.

      I’ve written, of course, extensively about this disability; anybody can find about my experiences by doing a Google search for my name. As I look back, the disability that I encountered in my own life was an adventure. I learned so many things – including the humanity that we all share, whether or not we are disabled.

      I still remember a time when I appeared on a national CBC TV panel dealing with disabilities.

      I guess it was in the early 1990s. Someone asked me – having heard that I had been on national TV, as was an occurrence from time to time in those days, as I had become a spokesperson speaking about my great disability, and how I had learned to address it – what I had talked about at the panel.

      I explained, to the inquirer, that the CBC TV panel, on a program that had a title along the lines of the CBC Disability Show, was about how people with disabilities are represented in the movies. The inquirer proceeded to laugh in my face.

      I felt equanimity about the response at the time, and I feel equanimity about it now. Such responses, then as now, are to me as water off a duck’s back.

      I’m still trying, these many years later, to figure out that response, which I found interesting. Was the novelty of the topic a surprise to the inquirer; was that what prompted the response? Or was it a political statement? As in: These people, these people who speak on behalf of special interests, why don’t they just be quiet?

      It’s a delight to know that people can find humour in all manner of topics. I’m pleased that the inquirer so much enjoyed my response, to the great question, that had been asked. Laughter serves so many useful purposes. It’s a key part of identity politics, a key part of establishing social hierarchies, or trying to assert such hierarchies, or whatever it is that goes on, in the course of such interactions.

      Anyway, it’s now back to work on the history project that I was talking about, earlier in this comment.

  8. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    On April 5, 2016, Donald McMaster wrote the following additional comment:


    I just received the MCHS DVD you sent.

    I have sent you $5 in Payment. Let me know when you get it.


    It brings back memories of some of the teachers.

    Bernie Shoub, Trigonometry.
    Mr Kupperman, History, Drivers Ed; who fought against the Japanese in WW II.
    Peter Kemp, Gym; who was a field goal Kicker for the Montreal Alouettes.

    I also had: Perez -French, Bregman – Intermediate Algebra, Edmonson, Harold – Shop , Christmas – French.




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