[Skip to Content]

Former Students

A+ A-

Dan Harris

“I was at Hillcrest from 3 September 1940 until 17 November 1944. There were four rooms on the lower floor. If you entered the school from the front door, Grade 1 was first on the left (Office Today) and grade 2 was on the same side (Room 5 Today). Grades 7 & 8 were in the classroom first on the right (Principal’s Office Today), from the front of the school and grade 3 was on the same side (Room 8 Today).

On the upper floor, again from the front of the building, the first room on the left (Room 26 Today) was not used. Grade 4 was on the same side (Room 25 Today). Grades 5 & 6 were in the classroom first on the right Room 27 Today). When I joined the school, the room at the right hand rear side of the building (Room 28 Today) was not used either. Probably around 1943 it started to be used as a woodwork class. The teachers were ladies!

Use of the front door by students was strictly forbidden. We never used the front door of the school. There was a walkway going from the sidewalk in the front of the building to the front doors, but the children entered by the rear door. The pupils entered the back door, which was accessed by walking around the right hand side of the building. In cold or wet weather, we assembled in the basement. On a slightly embarrassing topic, the basement toilet facilities were the one aspect of the school I didn’t like or could never get used to. There were no doors on the toilet cubicles!

Miss Glidden was my all time favourite teacher. She made school a joy. I can vouch that she taught music. One day in her class, she had us standing at the back wall of the class, doing choir practice. During one of the songs, she suddenly called out that someone was singing off key. She then pointed to me and told me to take a seat. She was right first time. It was me! On the day I left school, to come home to Scotland, I was in grade seven in Miss Thompson’s class. Everybody in the class signed a farewell note, including Miss Thompson. But there was one other signature. That was Miss Glidden’s. That was the type of person she was. We all loved her.

Most of the students who attended Hillcrest would have been grateful for a shower room. From Parkdale Avenue out from the City, there was no running (mains ) water, except for the school and Reid Avenue where I lived. We only had running water because we lived on the same street as the Airport. Even then, we didn’t have any sanitation, just a cold water tap in the sink. Like most of the boys in that area, I went for a bath by swimming in the Red Creek. We didn’t have any house numbers in those days; the houses were about 50 yards apart.

Perhaps it should be worth mentioning that at the back of the school, there was a baseball diamond on the left hand side of the playground. Miss Thompson took an interest in 1944 and started a school team. Up until then there was no school team.The first game was against Van Wagners at their place. I was extremely disappointed. I played shortstop but didn’t get picked for the team. the reason I didn’t make the baseball team was because I was at a disadvantage. I am left handed, and the school didn’t have any baseball mitts for left handers. So I had to throw the ball with my right hand. Pretty mean eh? No matter. I came home to Scotland a few months later and within weeks I was playing for the school soccer team. How is that for a transformation!

I recited In Flander’s Field at the school’s Armistice Day service from 1940 to 1944 inclusive, having been coached wonderfully by the Principal, Mr. John Cook. I stood on the stairs outside what was the Grade 7&8 classroom (Principal’s Office Today), and recited the poem. I still remember the silence and emotion when I was reciting the poem.

During the 1944 year, the school started to collect money in order to purchase War Savings Certificates. The way the War Savings Certificates system was conducted at school, was just an extension of what was available to the general public. Anyone could go to a Post Office and purchase a War Savings Certificate for 4 dollars. You were then guaranteed to get 5 dollars back after 7 years. It was one of the war time slogans in Canada, that 2 times 2 = 5 when you buy war bonds. Anyway, as not everyone was in a position to pay 4 dollars outright, you could get a savings book and purchase savings stamps. The stamps were then stuck in the the savings book until you had saved 4 dollars. These were then traded in for a War Savings Certificate, identical to the one I sent to Hillcrest. I am almost sure that the teachers then purchased, and gave the students their War Savings Certificates. The Canadian Government issued these Certificates in order to raise money for the war effort. In order to encourage the kids to come up with as much war savings that they could, a scheme was developed at Hillcrest. The idea was that we would pay what we would and collect savings stamps until we had sufficient to pay for a savings certificate ($4). On the wall at the back of the class, there was a chart. This chart showed the ranks of the Royal Canadian Air Force. The more you paid in, the higher became your rank. In 1945, I received a letter from my classmates after I had moved back to Scotland telling me that a boy named Roy Hinchcliffe was the highest contributor.”

In February of 2003, Dan made a very kind gesture towards Hillcrest by donating a War Savings Certificate dated November 15, 1944. He stated, “I noticed there is a mention that a total of $1441.93 was collected by the school for War Savings Certificates. I thought it would be nice to return one of War Savings Certificates to the school, so I have sent you mine.”

** 62 years after he left for Scotland, Dan returned in June of 2006 to attend the Hillcrest Closing Ceremony. Dan was a guest speaker, and talked about his memories and experiences while at Hillcrest.**

Jim McIntosh

“I was at Hillcrest first in 1952-53 in Grade 5 on the afternoon shift and my teacher was Don Mogg. Later in the year, we moved to Woodward School when it was built. I came back to Hillcrest for Grade 7 (54-55), and 8 (55-56) after the addition was built. Mr. Ernie Porthouse was my Grade 7 teacher, and Victor Kadonaga my Grade 8 home room teacher. Mr. Humphries was the Principal. Mr. Montgomery was my shop teacher. Mr. Hewitt taught us music and our school choir took part in a concert at Memorial School in Hamilton and we sang “Oklahoma”. I designed a couple of school crests at Hillcrest, which I may be able to find.”

Wendy Knapp

“I was at Hillcrest from 1956 to 1963. When I went to Hillcrest, it was a school for grades kindergarten to grade 6. I have a black & white photo taken of my grade one class where we had made life size drawings of ourselves. Those were the days where teachers encouraged parents to send their children to Sunday school. Recess was a big event. There were separate playgrounds….one for boys; the other for girls. When it was over, there was a bell where we all had to stand still, then another where we had to walk into lines (boys & girls separately, I think). In grade six we went on a wonderful trip to Pioneer Village.”

Gordon Smith

“When I was at Hillcrest in the late 1950s, the new section had just opened up to give us the workshops and extra classrooms. We also started the experiment of class rotation using different teachers for different subjects. It was interesting as we had to keep in single file lines and were ordered not to speak to those that passed us going the other way. Those were the days when we looked forward to the one day a year teacher study days. We were all pretty close to each other as we were in a small community at that time. I am sure it has changed by now. It was nothing for us to go home and back for lunches we just lived at the other end of the old airport runway (3-4 minutes). We had a good school athletic program at that time, and had in general a very good group of teachers. Some that stick out in my mind are: Miss Green, Mr. Sitler, and Mr. Allan.”

Al Pace

“I attended grade 6 and half of grade 7 at Hillcrest. That was 1957, and 1958. Before that I went to Parkdale from grade 1 to 5. After Hillcrest, my family moved to Burlington where I attended grade 7 and 8 at Clarksdale PS and 9 to 13 at Nelson High School.

At Hillcrest I remember Mr Batchelor in grade 6 and Mr. Brown in grade 7. Also Mr Sittler for art. I can’t remember the Phys Ed. and Health teacher, but he taught us how to keep a baseball scorecard which I found invaluable in later life as I played and coached a lot of fastball up until I was 42 years old.

At Hillcrest, I remember playing rush touch football at noon. It was an organized league and pretty rough. I played on the line and got a few bruises on my arms to show for it. I also remember spending a lot of time in Red Hill Creek chasing garter snakes. There were quite a few of them then. I also attended the cub scout group and went to church in the church just behind the school. Another thing, the street in front of the school was called Barton Street back then, not Melvin. Times change.

I’m in Alberta now working for the City of Calgary in their Information Technology department and raising Siberian Huskies for a hobby.”

Janet Garnier (Salmon)

Janet attended Hillcrest from 1957-1960. In September of 2002, she had the opportunity to visit Hillcrest with another former student, and here is what she had to say:

“If you think things have changed, you can imagine how Lindsay and I felt when we were there for a visit. When I went to Hillcrest, the girls were on one side and the boys on the other and never the twain should meet. Nobody left the classroom unless it was a washroom trip or to the Nurse. In fact nobody got up from the desk once they were in class until the teacher dismissed us. No stage in the gym was a shock, I was in a few plays and 2 musicals while at Hillcrest and of course the school choir. We had the best music teacher Mr. Hewitt.”

Michael Andrews

“I attended Hillcrest for only one year — Kindergarden. That was in 1963-64. I remember the large air-raid siren on the top of the school that never seemed to be used. I vaguely remember my teacher, Miss Wiersma. I remember there was a drinking fountain on the sidewalk in front of the school. My class was where the library is today. I remember having immediate access to the playground. The national flag at the time was the Union Jack – we had to colour it in as an activity. I also remember historical events – coming home from Hillcrest and learning that JFK was shot. I also remember watching a film in one of the “grown-up” classes, because we got to sit in “real” desks, and when the lights came on after the film, a mouse scurried across the floor. That seemed to scare all the girls and our teacher.”

Yvonne Wotherspoon

“When I was at Hillcrest from 1964-1969, I was one of the first set of cheerleaders, as well as President for a term as well.”

William Jensen

“Just like to say that this web site is looking good . It is a very good documentation on the history of Hillcrest. It turns out my father attended Hillcrest in 1946 and is in the picture of the grade 7& 8 class of 1946. I myself attended Hillcrest from 1967 to 1976 all except grade 4 that I spent in the brand new Hillsdale, then back to Hillcrest until graduation in 1976. My father would tell me how in 1946 lunch time was spent swimming in Red Hill Creek. He would hide his lunch in the bushes so the teacher would think they were going home for lunch. If he had taken lunch to school he would have had to spend lunch time at school. I have the very first Hillcrest year book 1973-1974, also 1974-1975 and 1975-1976. 1 of my favorite teachers was Mr.Stewart who taught history and who’s favorite saying was “When I was a boy”, then he would begin our history class.”

Julie Wilson

“I attended Hillcrest during the years of 1968 to 1973. The principal at that time was Mr. Walker. I had quite a few teachers while there but the one that stands out in my mind was my grade 5 teacher Miss Bone, later to become Mrs. Bridges. Her love for teaching was obvious in her kind and friendly manner and I enjoyed her class very much.

I was in a portable for grades 3 to 5. If I am remembering correctly, there were three on the west side of the school and three more along the back. Grades 6, 7 and 8 were in the main building.

There used to be a variety store directly across the road from the school. Students used to go there at lunch time for treats. I remember one time in particular I was coming back to school at lunch time and I guess I crossed against the light and the principal caught me. I had to report to the office for a lecture on rules of the road. Going to the principal’s office in those days was a much more frightening experience than it is today especially with that leather strap hanging on the wall behind the principal’s desk.”

Updated on Wednesday, February 28, 2018.
Back to the top