A retrospective look by Bert Eccles (MCHS 1968) at what was going on outside the walls of Morison School during the seven years he was there

Sunset on Mount Royal. Source: Tourisme Montréal Twitter account @Montreal #Sunset on Mount Royal @guillaumeboily https://goo.gl/5Y3Yqx #MTLmoments

Sunset on Mount Royal. Source: Tourisme Montréal Twitter account @Montreal
#Sunset on Mount Royal @guillaumeboily https://goo.gl/5Y3Yqx #MTLmoments

I am very pleased that at a previous post about Morison School in Montreal, which I attended in the 1950s, we now have forty comments.

I am pleased about the forty comments because I see such tremendous value in the sharing of a wide range of viewpoints and reminiscences at the Preserved Stories website.

In a sense, the presence of the large number of comments underlines that the ownership of the post in question is widely shared; it’s not merely a venue for me to share my own, individual view of things; instead it’s a venue in which other people also have the opportunity to take ownership of the space.

Most recent comments from Bert Eccles

In the most recent comment, Bert Eccles (MCHS 1968) writes (and I am posting it at the current blog post, by way of bringing attention to it):

Elementary school is a major part of a child’s world, but it’s not his complete world. I thought it might be interesting to retrospectively look at what was going on outside the walls of Morison during the seven years I was there. Thus, what follows is a completely subjective and personal view of what I remember of the outside world as seen from my limited perspective between ages five and twelve. I hope that others feel inspired to share their own personal memories on these and other themes.

I’ve listed some examples of key areas that I remember for each year and I’ve used each grade, academic calendar year, and teacher as headings. I think there were two class teachers for my grade each year that I was at Morison; I’ve named my teacher in each instance. I don’t know the names of the teachers of the other classes (although I think the “other” Grade 7 teacher was Mr. Bursey).

Grade 1, 1957-1958, Mrs. Cook. News/Politics: John Diefenbaker was beginning what would be a six-year run as Prime Minister. Sports: The Canadiens won the Stanley Cup for the third consecutive year. Floyd Patterson was the Heavyweight Champion. Soundtrack: Perry Como: “Catch a Falling Star”. TV: “Have Gun Will Travel”.

Grade 2, 1958-1959, Mrs. Shakespeare. Sports: The Canadiens won their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup. Ingemar Johansson of Sweden knocked out Floyd Patterson to win the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship. Soundtrack: Johnny Horton: “Battle of New Orleans”. TV: “Perry Mason”.

Grade 3, 1959-1960, Miss McVicar. Sports: The Canadiens won their fifth consecutive Cup. Rocket Richard retired. Floyd Patterson became the first boxer ever to regain the Heavyweight Championship. Soundtrack: Bobby Darin: “Mack the Knife”, Perry Como: “Delaware”, Johnny Horton: “Sink the Bismarck”. TV: “Tightrope”, “Wanted Dead or Alive”, “The Twilight Zone”.

Grade 4, 1960-1961, Mrs. Heazel. News/Politics: The Nixon-Kennedy debate led to Kennedy being elected President. The Bay of Pigs invasion. Sports: Chicago (with Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Glenn Hall, and Pierre Pilote) won the Stanley Cup. Soundtrack: Johnny Horton: “North to Alaska”, Joe Jones: “You Talk Too Much”. TV: Checkmate”.

Grade 5, 1961-1962, Mrs. Wax. News/Politics: the Diefendollar, the Thalidomide tragedy and scandal, the death of Marilyn Monroe. Sports: Toronto won the Stanley Cup. Soundtrack: Jimmy Dean: “Big Bad John”, Dion: “Runaround Sue”, Chubby Checker: “The Twist”. TV: “The Dick Van Dyke Show”.

Grade 6, 1962-1963, Mrs. Burt. News/Politics: Lester Pearson was elected Prime Minister. Sports: Toronto won its second consecutive Stanley Cup. Sonny Liston, at that time the most feared fighter in the world, demolished Floyd Patterson and won the Heavyweight Championship. Soundtrack: Bobby “Boris” Pickett: “The Monster Mash”, The Four Seasons: “Sherry” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, Big Bob and the Dollars: “Gordie Howe”. TV: “Car 54 Where Are You”.

Grade 7, 1963-1964, Mrs. Burt (she moved from Grade 6 to Grade 7, just as we did). News/Politics: Assassination of JFK. Sports: Young Yvan Cournoyer was brought up to the Canadiens for five games and scored four goals. Toronto won its third consecutive Stanley Cup. Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston to win the Heavyweight Championship and then changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Soundtrack: The Beatles: “Roll Over Beethoven”, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, “She Loves You”, and many, many more, as Beatlemania exploded in North America. TV: Burke’s Law.

Obviously, a lot of other things happened in those seven years, but the ones above were the most memorable for me. What are your memories?


Atlantic Life Timeline

I thought about Bert’s timeline (above) after I subsequently wrote a post entitled:

You enter your birthday, and The Atlantic Life Timeline shares a brief tour of the history that’s happened all around you

1963 editorial in American Historical Review about history

Click here to access a 1963 American Historical Review about history >

I’ve shared this link by way of (1) reminding myself of some outlooks that were prevalent in 1963 when I graduated from Malcolm Campbell High School and (2) by way of reminding myself of how I became interested in stories about the past.

I became interested specifically in local history only after I had retired from teaching, and made a practice of taking my dog for a walk around the perimeter of a local construction site.

I ended up documenting the building site over a couple of years and in the process became involved in the work of a local historical society, when one of its members stopped to talk with me as I was taking pictures at the construction  site.

My contacts with the local historical society led me to become interested in a local Small Arms Building in Mississauga. I live in Toronto close to the Mississauga border, and I think in the past I had walked by the building in question, without knowing anything about the history associated with it.

The documentation project at a local construction site also led indirectly to my involvement with a successful neighbourhood effort to save a public school, close to where we live, which would otherwise have been sold to a developer. The school-related project led me to development of extensive and productive contacts with people who had done extensive archival research about local history.

The story of the Small Arms Building in Mississauga, and the history of the historical site where the school in Toronto, that was about to be sold to a developer, is located, gave rise to a project, which now has gone on for more than five years, where I’ve been interviewing people about local history, and have been reading widely about world military history and the history of the British empire.

I mention this by way of saying that, in high school and in university, I pretty well would not have cared less about history. In contrast, just because of things that I originally began to learn, just from the fact I was walking around my neighbourhood with my dog, I have developed a keen interest in learning the many great stories that are out there, that deal with the past.

That is the context, that explains my own keen interest, these days, in learning as much as I can about elementary schools such as Cartierville School and Morison School in Montreal, which I attended as a child in the 1950s. I am really pleased that, as things have worked out, five years ago I set up the website, that you are now visiting. The website has enabled me, in a small way, to ensure that a small number of the local stories from the past, that are of interest to other people as well as to myself, are persevered, and celebrated, or commemorated, as the case may be.

This is very much a community effort. I am pleased I can help out with this effort, in my own small way.


11 replies
  1. Sara Simmons Valentine
    Sara Simmons Valentine says:


    I’m reading your posting on this early Saturday morning with coffee at hand. How remarkable to be reminded of those teachers and those events of so long ago.

    I, too, was a fourth grade student of Mrs. Hazel and what came to mind was a class trip which included going skating then having hot dogs and hot chocolate in her home.

    Remember those cold, cold winters? At home, in the mornings, my mother would turn on the oven to warm the kitchen and while my two brothers and sister and I were having breakfast we would listen to the weather on the radio and hear that it was 25 degrees BELOW zero. More often than not school would NOT be cancelled so off we would go to walk the mile plus to Morison School on those very brutal mornings.

    Best wishes,

    Sara Simmons Valentine, MCHS 1968

    • Bert Eccles
      Bert Eccles says:

      Hi Sara,

      I enjoyed reading your comments. I remember you and your brother David from MCHS but I didn’t realize that you had attended Morison. I missed a lot of time in Grade 4 because I had both measles and mumps that year. The first time I went on a field trip or to a teacher’s house was in Grade 5 with Mrs. Wax.

      In Grade 4 I was absent when the teacher (Mrs.H.) taught the class how to do division. When I returned, I asked her to show me how, and her response was, “You were away so you can figure it out by yourself.” Since I had no choice, I did just that.

      Your comment about the cold weather highlights the fact that winters in Montreal were definitely harsher than they have been in recent years.


  2. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    I enjoyed your reference, Sara, to the fact that cancellation of school on account of the weather was a rare occurrence.

    This brings to mind one of the many things that I enjoyed about teaching, in the last phase of my teaching career when I was an elementary teacher in Mississauga, Ontario in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

    At the school where I taught in those years prior to my retirement, we had a network of phone contacts where each teacher had one or two specified teachers, that they were required to call at 5:30 in the morning in the event that the school board (I was with the Peel District School Board) decided it was going to be a Snow Day, and all the schools would be closed.

    The teacher who called me, at 5:30 a.m. on those rare occasions, always made a point of saying, “I’m really sorry to be telling you this, but it’s a fact that there is no school today. It’s a Snow Day and we all have to stay home. I know you will be deeply disappointed, but what can we do?”

    Jaan Pill, MCHS 1963

  3. Suzanne Dube Keith
    Suzanne Dube Keith says:

    I too went to Morison Elementary School. I do not remember all my teachers names. But I remember Mrs. Hazel.

    I also remember Bert as he lived at the corner of our street.

    I remember him tattling on me to the principal when Dayle Letouzel and me played hookey. I learned about hookey from a conversation my mother had regarding her school days and I thought it sounded fun. I talked Dayle into it and we skipped school. Bert tattled and we got one weeks detention in the principal’s office. My life of crime was thwarted. Thanks Bert for saving me.

    • Bert Eccles
      Bert Eccles says:

      Hi Suzanne,

      I remember you and your brother George, and I also remember Dayle, whose mother (if I recall correctly) owned a beauty parlour on Dudemaine near Depatie.

      What I don’t remember is tattling on you. It seems very out of character for me, but if it did happen I’m glad that you’re now thanking me instead of cursing me.

      Here’s a story indicating how I feel about tattling, and why it would have been out of character. In Grade 11 at MCHS, my French teacher was Mr. Christmas. I think we had about thirty students in our class. One day we had a substitute teacher who walked out of the class about ten minutes into the period. (I think each period lasted fifty minutes at that time.) The sub just left without comment, so we had no idea where he went or when he was returning.

      As time passed, some students started leaving the class a few at a time. The sub finally returned right near the end of the period (so he had probably taken an unexplained break of about half an hour for who-knows-what reason) and there were only about five or ten of us (out of the thirty) who had stayed in the room.

      The sub now asked all of us who remained to sign a paper – obviously so that he could identify those who had left without permission. Everyone else who was still there signed it but I walked out without signing it. I found it offensive that this sub had been derelict in his duties by absenting himself for most of the period without explanation and then pulled this stunt to get those who had left into trouble. I refused to be complicit in this unfair McCarthyistic witch-hunt.

      The next time we had French, Mr. Christmas was back. He said to me, “Go to the office.” I said, “Thank you, Sir,” and went to the office and sat on the bench. The Vice-Principal, Mrs. Lamet, asked what I was doing there, and when I told her, she just rolled her eyes and walked away.

      For the next week or so I took it upon myself to go directly to the office every time I had French. Finally, I was told that Mr. Christmas wanted to see me in his classroom at the end of the day. I went there and – to his credit – he said, “I know why you did what you did (i.e.: a matter of integrity) but I couldn’t let the class think that I would condone rebellion of any kind. You can return to the class tomorrow.”

      That’s one reason why I believe that tattling is totally out of character, but if it happened, believe me: you now have a sincere apology roughly sixty years later. By the way, you might find this amusing: I mentioned in an earlier post that I had been away when Mrs. H. taught the class division and she then told me I would have to learn it by myself. The punch line is that she did this because one of the girls had told her that she had seen me outside on the day I was absent. Oh, the irony!

  4. Graham Chartier
    Graham Chartier says:

    A Morison School student: Ms Barron in the Kindergarten at a far end of the school, with its own playground, Ms Poli and Ms Shakespeare in G.1, Ms. Guertin in G.2, Ms Rappaport/Brott in G. 3, Ms. Hersh in G.4 (all under Ms. Clark, Principal), g.5 ?, Ms Goodman g.6 (when The Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan), and the great Mr. Bursey in an all-male class in G.7.

    We had a great gym and two large fields. Remember the Champ squares we use play on (and argue about) during recess.

    • Jaan Pill
      Jaan Pill says:

      I remember one of the fields. It was great that there were large fields. That was a feature of schools everywhere built around that time – I think for example of schools from that era in Toronto and Mississauga. It was wonderful to have large amounts of space in which to run and play, at all seasons of the year.

      • Bert Eccles
        Bert Eccles says:

        Hi Graham and Jaan,

        The fields were certainly glorious. In addition to standard sports such as baseball and soccer, British Bulldog and Red Rover were also played on the large field. Stand-o was played against the wall where classes lined up. Ball hockey was played in the small area outside the library.

        Miss Clark was the principal for the entire duration of my seven years at Morison. In Grade 6 we had two big, tough kids in the class. Their size and toughness might have been due to the fact that they were each a couple of years older than most of us, since in those days repeating a grade was much more common than it is today. One day there was a fire drill and the two big bruisers were caught talking. They were pulled out of the line and subsequently strapped by Miss Clark in her office and away from our curious minds. They returned to class with red-rimmed eyes and minus all their usual swagger. Times were indeed different a half century ago!

        I remember Graham’s name as someone younger (one grade below mine, maybe?) but I don’t believe we knew each other. I certainly did not know Jaan at the time, as he was probably about six grades ahead of me, but I do remember hearing his name from my friend Earl Wilde when we were in Grade 5. I don’t remember the context, but Earl’s older brother Bruce had apparently mentioned Jaan’s name to Earl for some reason and Earl passed the story (whatever it was) on to me. Interestingly, fifty years later, I happened upon Jaan’s website. It’s a small world now that the Internet is here!

  5. steve lake
    steve lake says:

    Congratulations Bert on making the list of It’s Your Call in the last three months. Guess you are still as a good bridge player as you were going back over years. All the best, Steve Lake-Las Vegas, Nevada

    • Bert Eccles
      Bert Eccles says:

      Thanks, Steve – nice to hear from you again. I know you’ve had a very interesting life in Vegas since leaving Montreal.

      Best wishes,


  6. Bob Carswell
    Bob Carswell says:

    THE SPINSTER WITCH OF CARTIERVILLE SCHOOL…I am talking about Miss Staniforth who taught me in Grade 5. I hated her so much that I was looking forward to going into Grade 6 until I learned that it was the year in which she moved up from being a Grade 5 teacher to being a Grade 6 teacher. I am sure her ghost still haunts the halls of the now boarded up old Cartierville School.


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