timberland hat A very special KCVI reunion
Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute is celebrating a milestone 225th birthday this year. To celebrate this unprecedented achievement, there will be a very special reunion from Wednesday to Sunday, Sept. 27 to Oct. 1. Alumni will also be toasting a new era for KCVI, to the promise of the school’s dynamic legacy continuing on into the decades to come at its new location.
Change is not new to KC. Since its beginning in 1792, KC has gone through a number of changes in name and location; in each case, for the better, reacting to changes in social values and improvements in technology.
The school will be relocating to its fifth location in the near future. In 1792, the Midland District Grammar School was at the corner of School Street (Lower Union) and King Street East. It remained there until the 1849, when it moved into temporary quarters in a wing of Summerhill, the home of Archdeacon George O’Kill Stuart. It next moved to a new school building (Sydenham Public School today) on Clergy Street, which opened for classes in 1853. In that same year, the Stuarts sold Summerhill to Queen’s College. In 1892, KCI moved once again, from Clergy Street to its current site at the corner of Earl and Frontenac streets, with the main entrance on Earl Street.
A number of people of note have graced the halls throughout its history, including: Sir John A. Macdonald (Canada’s first prime minister), Oliver Mowat (politician), Peter Milliken (Speaker of the House of Commons and head boy at KC, 1963 64), Hugh Dillon (CBC actor and musician), Simon Whitfield (Olympic gold and silver medallist), Robert Mundell (Nobel laureate and father of the ‘Euro’) and Diane MacMillan Polley (actor and mother of Sarah Polley, Canadian actor and producer. Diane was head girl at KC, 1953 54). Last but certainly not the least of celebrated KC alumni are the recently named members to the Order of Canada, the iconic Canadian band The Tragically Hip.
KC received a number of distinctions in later years. In 1990, through efforts of teacher George Dillon with the Heraldry Society, Ontario Lt. Gov. Lincoln Alexander awarded KC with its first coat of arms. It was the first such presentation in Canada. Two years later, in the school’s bicentennial year, Gov. Gen. Raymond Hnatyshyn presented the school with a new coat of arms to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the school. Later, KC was granted the right to offer the prestigious International Baccalaureate program. In 2012, the Fraser Institute ranked KC as the top performing high school in the Limestone District School Board and among the top 10 in Canada.
KCVI was the first high school in Canada to establish its own radio station, 91.9 FM The Cave,
in 1997. Just in the last few weeks, the CRTC approved the school’s application for a major boost in its transmitting power.
The reunion will take place in and around KC. For the past 225 years, KCVI, the second oldest high school in Canada and the oldest in Ontario, has provided generations of Kingston and area families with excellent education and fond memories. Because the building at its current location is scheduled to close in the near future, this reunion will be the last opportunity for former students to visit its cherished, hallowed halls. The school, as a concept separate from the building, will be moving to a new location to share a new building and name with another iconic high school, Queen Elizabeth Collegiate and Vocational Institute (1955 2016). It is hoped that the new school name will recognize and embrace both schools in some clear, visible way so that each school can continue to build on its history and traditions well into the future. At the same time, and on a solid foundation of the merging legacies of both historic schools, the new school will begin to build its own strong traditions and heritage. The late Ron Ede, former teacher and the KCVI archivist and historian in 1992, wrote:
“As the glass of time ekes out the few remaining grains of sand of another century, the KC alumni hope nothing unforeseen occurs to interrupt the flow, and that Father Time will, in his wisdom, invert the glass inaugurating the third century of KCVI.” Ron Ede, The KCVI Times, 1992.
Perhaps this thought still rings true as KC enters a new era.
The reunion committee has been busy organizing a long weekend of exciting activities brimming with nostalgia, memories and old friendships. Alumni from as far back as the 1930s and, in a handful of cases even farther back in time, are expected to attend.
The four days will be packed with numerous exciting activities that will cater to everyone’s taste. There will be sports events (or exhibits) such as volleyball, basketball, rowing, girls field hockey, boys football and a historic harrier race, et cetera. A golf tournament is being arranged at The Landings golf club by the airport. There will be a coffee house/wine and cheese event when some alumni may once again wish to display their talents on the stage of KC’s magnificent auditorium. Several areas of the school will be accessible to highlight student work and achievements, and there is to be a drama festival in the auditorium. A gala and talent show will be held at the Rogers K Rock Centre on the Saturday night, after which alumni reunion groups may choose to meet at various pubs and restaurants in the downtown Kingston area.
As one would expect, there will be an extensive collection of artifacts, photographs and other memorabilia of the school’s past on display throughout the weekend. Of special note are the memorial plaques in the main stairwell commemorating the sacrifices of former KC students,
who made the ultimate sacrifice in the two world wars of the last century. There is also a special display inside the entrance to the library highlighting images and short biographies of many former students who faced the perils of those wars.
The reunion will be a fitting way to bridge KC’s storied past with its future in the Kingston community. It should be an event that will be well remembered for years to come.