Stories – Saint John's School of Alberta - stories

By: Saint John's School Of Alberta  09-12-2011
Keywords: school, church, Chapel

Stories – Saint John's School of Alberta

Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category

November 2nd, 2011 by Barbara McKay

Doc Norquay’s Last Salute

(A story taken from the SJCBS yearbook of 1966)

“Don’t expect great things from me,” said Dr. John P. Norquay. “I’m not young anymore, you know, and besides you’re using the wrong boats.”

It was July, 1960, and the doctor was discussing the proposed 400-mile expedition from The Pas, Manitoba, to Winnipeg by rowing cutter. The school needed another man for the trip and had approached the doctor. Though over 50, he certainly looked tough enough.

The doctor, a veterinary inspector with the federal department of agriculture whose son was in the school, had agreed to come, but not without first protesting the type of boat then used by the school. The rowing cutters, he said, were ungainly, slow and European.

“What you need are canoes. They are the beautiful craft – long, light, fast and incidentally genuinely Canadian. One of the days you’re going to discover them.”

Having said this, he threw himself into the expedition with all his enthusiasm. It proved to be one of the school’s toughest. He endured mosquitoes so thick in the Summerberry marshes that he boys and men had to wrap towels around their faces as they prepared their camp. On a height above the old Demicharge Rapid, he astonished the crew by hoisting an 80-pound wet tent up a 60-foot cliff to a camp site.

Twice severe storms on Lake Winnipeg drove the cutters ashore, the second time onto the rocks of Wicked Point. Here “Old Doc”, as the boys called him, leapt out of the boat into the surf and helped brace the cutter against the waves as the crew unloaded it.

Each morning he was up before his youngsters, got the fire going and then awakened the crews with the same refrain: “It’s daylight in the swamp, gentlemen.”

When one of the two boats was damaged at Wicked Point, Doc Norquay volunteered to remain behind in charge of a stranded crew on short rations as the sailing boat St. Peter came north to pick them up. The other cutter pushed on and eventually reached Winnipeg.

The cutters, said the doctor later, were better boats then he thought. But he’d still stick with canoes and he thought the school should do the same.

Last November at Winnipeg General Hospital Dr. John Prichard Norquay died of cancer. He was 57. During his year-long illness there had been a pathetic incident.

Unknown to the school, the doctor had moved into a home in St. Norbert on the banks of the Red River. Here for months he fought his last fight. One fine June evening, he lay on a cot watching the old river when suddenly from far upstream he heard singing voices. Within minutes nine canoes appeared before him. He pulled himself to his feet and made his way to the edge of the river, waving his hand and softly calling.

But the wind was on the water and the paddlers didn’t hear. Some waved back but none knew who it was. Moments later they were gone.

They’d missed Doc Norquay’s last salute. But as he beheld those long, low craft, the joyful swing of the paddles, the yellow gleaming in the evening sun and the cross blazing on every bow, he knew at least that the day had finally come. St. John’s had discovered the canoe.

January 7th, 2011 by Barbara McKay

May 4th, 2010 by Barbara McKay

(-article from the Alberta Report magazine – 1975)

Chapel 1976

While rural areas are dotted with hulks of abandoned school houses, churches and farm buildings, the city usually dispenses with such remnants of Alberta’s frontier days with almost indecent haste. Surprisingly, then, one of the Anglican church’s original missions in this area lasted for 65 years in the north end of Edmonton before finally facing condemnation proceedings by the city’s engineering department.  And Edmonton’s Mission Chapel at 11725-93 St. may survive for another 65 years, if St. John’s School of Alberta can raise the $12,500 it needs to move the chapel 40 miles southwest of Edmonton to the school’s property on the North Saskatchewan River.

The chapel was originally built to serve English immigrants who settled just north of Edmonton during the immigration boom which followed the turn of the century. Thinly-populated areas of the new province could not support their own parishes, so the mission was staffed by 17 priests sent in 1910 by the Church of England. With the church here as headquarters, the priests served a wide area. Although all returned to Europe when World war I began, and 10 died in the trenches as army chaplains, the mission continued to serve the district in different capacities as the population and parish increased in size and wealth. Now, many other modern structures have replaced the little chapel, which stands empty on the ground the city wants to make into a “quiet area”. The Anglican diocese is also anxious that the church should quickly disappear since some of its outbuildings have been condemned as firetraps.

But an unlikely rescuer has appeared in the Anglican private boys’ school situated just west of the Genesee Bridge, half way between Warburg and Stony plain. The school since its construction in 1967 has been without a church of its own. Plans to build one of logs fell through only four years ago, when several logistical problems prove insurmountable. Then the school’s small library was remodeled to fill the role. “But it was never intended to be permanent,” says Bud Brooks, science teacher at St. John’s, the man charged with finding money for the moving project. “We’ve always had our eye open for an abandoned church, but all the previous possibilities fell through for one reason or another.” Mr. Brooks heard about the imminent destruction and persuaded the city to hold off until he could raise the money to move it.

May 4th, 2010 by Barbara McKay

(Article from the 1970-1971 Annual Report of St. John’s School of Alberta)


St. John’s School of Alberta urgently needs a chapel and has no money to buy one. A chapel was not included in the original construction of the school as it was expected that the boys could worship in classrooms or the library until a proper chapel could be built. This has proved a delusion. Attendance at religious services in the Manitoba school has quadrupled since an abandoned church was brought onto the site to serve as a chapel two years ago. Last summer, the Alberta chaplain, Rev. Stanley Isherwood, examined three abandoned churches in the school’s vicinity. Two were too small, one too expensive to move. With a clampdown on all capital spending a new one cannot now be erected and paid for.

February 22nd, 2010 by Barbara McKay

(- taken from an article in the 1969-1970 St. John’s Report)

For St. John’s Schools the past two years have been a time of escalating publicity, some bad, most good, but plentiful enough to send a story a about the schools into scores of Canadian and American newspapers, one national TV program and, most recently, towards the international edition of the Reader’s Digest.

What began the boom was the publication by St. John’s two years ago of a 40 page teacher recruiting booklet called “Men Wanted” that was sent to a dozen Canadian newspapers. Two of them, the Victoria times and the Ottawa Journal, did stories on the place.

February 16th, 2010 by Barbara McKay

Battle of Maldon the Year 991

We have had many requests for copies of the Green Literature Book. Plans are in the works for a limited reproduction – but here is one of the favourite poems from the book.

February 11th, 2010 by Barbara McKay

52,000 Pounds Last Year

(article from the 1970-1971 Annual Report for Saint John’s School of Alberta)

Honey Production in 1971

Apris Melliferain its uncounted thousands has provided the base for a program at St. John’s of Alberta which enabled students to gain some special knowledge and experience and also returned a cash profit to the school.

January 22nd, 2010 by Barbara McKay

Recruiting Pamphet

In 1956, as a result of a frustration with the way society was moving toward more secular attitudes, Ted Byfield and Frank Wiens began a Sunday school program for boys who sang in the choir at St. John’s Cathedral church in Winnipeg. The Sunday school program did not work – irregular attendance, amateurs teaching a subject that would tax professionals, teachers constantly changing, facilities bad – but beneath all this was what they felt was the true reason for the failure – children were not being taught to think. The habit of reasoning from premise to conclusion had played little part in their education. Also, the new generation lacked some old instincts; to Christians, life is a pilgrimage, an adventure, a voyage into distant lands with great dangers, arduous difficulties and indescribable rewards. But their students had been somehow trained to believe that the good life consisted of social security, physical comfort and physio-psychological thrill.

January 22nd, 2010 by Barbara McKay

In September of 1968, Saint John’s School of Alberta opened it’s doors. The following is the story of how and who was involved with this happening:

January 21st, 2010 by Barbara McKay

(article from the St. John’s annual report of 1969-1970, author Ted Byfield)

“Men wanted for hazardous journey, Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success”. – Sir Ernest Shackleton

The information in this article was current at 06 Dec 2011

Keywords: Chapel, church, school

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Included in the crew are; Richard Bird SJCBS’67, Jim McKay SJCBS’67, Mike Solmundson SJCBS’79 and his sons Kyle and Kevin, and Danny Lynes SJCBS ‘80. Whether it was the work program, outdoor experiences, in the classroom, or on honey sales, skills were being learned. So they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and He delivereth them from their distress. In the early hours of September 13, 2011, Nancy Wiens surprised us with her passing.


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James has been a member on the Inter-municipal Negotiating Committee, Protective Services Committee, High Prairie & District Sold Waste Management Authority & Northern C.A.R.E., High Prairie & District Community Health Council, Finance and Personnel Committee and the Affordable Housing Committee. 2010 the members of the Company of the Cross renewed their vows at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Edmonton.


Stories – Saint John's School of Alberta

2011 Rodrigo Anaya (SJSA 92-95) wed his fiancee Alejandra in San Juan Cosala (a small town south of Guadalajara located on Lake Chapala). The service took place in a beautiful church built in 1740. Stories – Saint John's School of Alberta.


Updates – Saint John's School of Alberta - updates

Keith & Barbara McKay along with son Robert and his girlfriend Joanna enjoyed a great visit with alumnus Glenn Wallis and his wife Kelli. Richard Bird SJCBS’67, Jim McKay SJCBS’67, Mike Solmundson SJCBS’79 and his sons Kyle and Kevin, and Danny Lynes SJCBS ‘80. There were a few Canadian SJSA alumni in attendance (Mike & Kristin Jaskiw, Keith & Barbara McKay and Jay Berg).