NTCI Alumni Helping NTCI Alumni for Parkinson’s!

We all know that NT grads are out in the world making a difference. Just as we were finalizing our content for this issue, we received the following inspiring report from Harry McMurtry (’81) and knew it simply had to be shared among the NTCI alumni community:

My first day at NTCI was 40 years ago. These many years later, my connection to the school and its alumni remains as strong as ever. My NTCI roots run deep: I spent five years at the old campus; my mother attended the school as did all five of my siblings; and I keep in touch with dozens of its graduates. NTCI was (and still is) a special place. More importantly, it produces special people.

One of those special people is Sue (Lougheed) Thompson (’83). On May 7, 2016, Sue and I will embark on our quixotic journey from New York City to Toronto to raise money for Parkinson’s research. The walk is the centrepiece of a project called 500 Miles for Parkinson’s, which is also aimed at boosting awareness of this neurological condition. Both Sue and I have been diagnosed with Young-Onset Parkinson’s disease (YOPD). We will be joined on the 500-mile walk by Dr. Ross Sugar of Baltimore, MD, who also has YOPD. We created a video to promote the walk (https://youtube/WQSd4KjK4xI). (The video was made before Sue and Ross joined the team.) The walk will be preceded by a launch event in New York City on May 6, and followed by a celebration in Toronto on June 22. To learn more about the walk and related events, please visit our website: fivehundredmiles.org.
Few schools, public or private, can boast of more successful
alumni than NTCI. I do not think that this occurred by accident. I believe that the values instilled at NTCI serve its graduates well throughout their adult years: pursuit of excellence, creativity, diligence, community engagement, and empathy. All of these values have contributed to the creation, organization, and anticipated success of 500 Miles for Parkinson’s. 
NTCI alumni have infiltrated every aspect of 500 Miles:

  • Financial support: Ian Hull (’81), Janet (Macrae) MacInnis (’55), Andy Filipiuk (’81), Ria (Macrae) McMurtry (’52), James Swayze (’82)
  • Graphic art: Bernice Lum (’82)
  • Volunteer coordination: Kirsten Sixt (’83) and Julie Cowan (’83)
  • Administrative support: Lisa Pen (’82)
  • Organizational support: John McKay (’81), Adriana Christopoulos (’81), Ben Hawkins (’81), Phil Hargreaves (’81) and Geoff Linton (’81) 
  • One of our celebrity ambassadors, Ashley (Nicoll) Holzer, attended NTCI.
  • We are also receiving support from across the continent: Jim Maedel (’81) in Vancouver; and Harvey Levine (’81) and Simon Halls (’82) in Los Angeles.

You too can participate in this undertaking. You can become a sponsor, donate, buy tickets to an event, or volunteer. I believe that participating in charitable activities has concurrent benefits: it advances the cause; it makes your community stronger; it strengthens friendships; and it nourishes your soul. At the very least, it spreads a little of that Red and Grey magic.
—Harry McMurtry (’81)

The Archives: A Treasure Trove of History

For generations, people who care about North Toronto Collegiate have collected NT memorabilia. Each time I am in the Archives room, I try to lure in the students who have lockers nearby to admire the riches within. Just last week, I chatted with Sophia Rutherford, a second-generation NT student, and was able to show her the 1970s collection from her parents’ era. The Archives is mostly a mystery room to present-day students—but it is a fascinating trip down memory lane for alumni.

We have a remarkable collection, going back to 1912: photos, programs, plaques, trophies, uniforms, scrapbooks, pennants and crests, school pins, rings, hats, recordings, tapes, CDs, newspapers and yearbooks. And, of course, some unique items that would be the centrepiece of any collection. For example, we have Colin Farmer’s 35-mm camera, the footballs from the 1941 and 1944 Toronto City Championship games, and the shovel used to break ground for the new school. These resources were invaluable during the writing of the history of NT, Hail, North Toronto. They are also a wonderful resource for reunion materials and other research.

This Is Your Collection

Alumni frequently donate gifts that need to be incorporated into the collection. We recently acquired, for instance, more of Colin Farmer’s collection of photos, of which we already had quite a few. Colin and his enthusiastic Photography Club documented a huge swath of NT history in film and snapshots. The ever-important Maytime Melodies records and Kiwanis festival certificates were donated by the Music Department and digitized by Elvino Sauro, a very generous NT alum.

From Roy Hiir (’60) 2nd-fl-display-case-a-cwe received, among other things, a sweater crest in garnet and grey, the original NT colours before red and grey replaced them. Margaret Clarke contributed photos of the 1941 and 1944 football champs, which she had cherished all these years and which have finally come home to NT.

But not only alumni donate artifacts to the Archives. I have recently received material from Hal Brown’s family, including his famous red-and-grey coaching jacket, which still sports the muddy imprints of the equipment he carted around on the backfield of the old NT while coaching our athletes, among them Lucia Jenkins and Mary Nishio. Well after he retired, Hal continued to coach our track and field team, wearing that jacket. To me, it epitomizes his devotion to NT and is more valuable than jewels—a priceless, unique expression of the man Hal Brown was.

Are You a Closet Archivist?

It is my pleasure to be able to help acquire and conserve this bounty in the special Archives room at NT, but I could certainly use some help in making it accessible to anyone who wants to peruse it.

Nowadays, we can search online for NT memorabilia and acquire it if it is reasonable. That is one job to be done.

Former students and teachers are very good about leaving us their records, yearbooks and memorabilia when they are cleaning out their closets. These all need to be catalogued and integrated into the collection. Another project is trying to identify the activity and vintage or year of photographs— there are literally hundreds of them waiting to be dealt with so they can be properly catalogued.

So there is enough work to keep us busy for years to come! We have a wonderful record of the proud NT heritage right here in the school. It is indeed a treasure trove.

If you would like to help with this important work, please let us know by either post or email (subject line: “Archives”). Our contact information is on the last page.
—Nancy Baines, Archivist

Dragons’ Den: Putting Your Donations to Work

Last November, the Foundation invited students seeking funding for their various clubs and endeavours into the socalled Dragons’ Den. The evening of presentations, planned and executed both intelligently and professionally, made one thing very clear: the kids are alright! Once again, NTCI students proved that they are reaching for the stars as academics, athletes and musicians.

The groups applying for grants gave some background on their respective clubs, and explained what they hoped to do with the grant money and why they felt they deserved funding.:

  • The Robotics Club needed funds to purchase the materials for creating, constructing, programming and testing a robot. Most of us on the Foundation have a less than perfect grasp of the field of robotics, but we all agreed to partial funding. (Not surprisingly, the club did well at the VEX Robotics Competition.)
  • Graffiti, the newspaper we all remember fondly, has now expanded its scope to include a digital version and made two separate presentations. One came from Digital Graffiti, asking for money towards various technological resources, including camcorders and software, to help launch this new digital edition of the newspaper. Print Graffiti asked for help with its printing costs—difficult for a free school newspaper to fund on its own.
  • The Symphony Orchestra and Choral Ensemble asked for help in funding an enriched workshop, available to all music students, towards the goal of performing Mozart’s Requiem at this year’s Maytime Melodies. (It was the 70th edition and a landmark achievement, which you can see and hear at  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2nR66Y54e5Wzm-9z1mEJl6hJyYIGS12w.)

So what did the Dragons’ Den actually agree to? Because of
the generosity of your donations, the Foundation was able to
give Digital Graffiti $450.00 and print Graffiti $900.00. The
Orchestra and Chorus received $1,000.00, and the Robotics
Club $200.00. In all, the Foundation gave $2,550.00 towards
programs that were not only deserving but also representative
of the Foundation’s mission.

The NTCI Foundation Video

In the newsletter we wrote:

A three-and-a-half-minute student-driven video outlining the Foundation’s activities is currently in production. Its creator, grade 12 student Leah Meddaoui, who’s been head of video production for Digital Graffiti, designer for the NTCI Prom and student council video manager, dropped by our meeting in May and showed us an impressive sneak preview. Stay tuned—we’ll post details on the NTCI Foundation website as they become known.

Well here it is: 

Thank you to Kirsten Sixt for coordinating the production of this video.

A Day in the Life of an NT Student

This is the fourth consecutive school year in which the foundation has had the benefit of direct input from current NT students. our student reps enliven our meetings with their perspective and help us keep the purpose of our endeavours fresh and real. We thought you might like to hear from Siobhan Kidd and Riley Scanlan.
A Day in the Life of an NT Student
Subway doors open, it’s time to get off,
You’ll work hard and play hard, to quote Gorenkoff.
You walk up the street, and pick up a green tea.
You thank the barista, and skip off with glee.
Approaching NT, Dan welcomes you in,
He gives you a high five and a great big grin.
You enter home form and you hear Hot Air play,
Your day has begun in a wonderful way.
O Canada blares as you look ’round the room;
You smile as your friendships are starting to bloom.
First period begins, the teacher presents
A lesson about a historical event.
An hour has passed and you start to pack;
You walk down the hall and say hi to prez Jack.
This period is spare, so you look for your friend;
You’ll go to the library and plan your weekend.
Lunchtime arrives, intramurals calls your name,
You grab a couple friends and start a dodgeball game.
It’s almost 3:15, the day has flown by;
Now you’ve got choir, time to sing low and high.
You finally get home, what a long day you’ve had—
No homework tonight, oh boy aren’t you glad?
Another day down, you get ready for bed
You’ve worked hard and played hard, just as he said.

2016 Maytime Melodies – 70th edition

The 70th edition of Maytime Melodies featured a wonderful performance of Mozart’s Requiem (Friday and Saturday) featuring  Emily D’Angelo (NT’12) who was a winner of the 2016 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Finals. . The Gala Event on Saturday (the first Saturday performance in a number of years) was hosted by NT graduates and included a song auction in addition to the class glee choirs.

All 3 nights of Maytime Melodies are available (as are the 2014 & 2015 performances) on Youtube:



  • Come celebrate Red and Grey Day at North Toronto with numerous sporting events, the marching band, the athletic assembly, a post game celebration and that famous NT school spirit!  Watch the outdoor games from the stands or from the comfort of the staff room overlooking the field with members of the NT Foundation.
  • Full details will be available on the school website, ntci.on.ca, shortly and an email will be sent out too!! Please feel free to spread the word and hopefully you can drop by the school.

Maytime Melodies 2016

  • We welcome back the 2015 music grads on May 12 & 13!

Hodgson’s 100th Anniversary – May 13-14, 2016

  • 2015-2016 is Hodgson’s 100th Anniversary year! Celebrations are scheduled for Friday, May 13, 2016 and Saturday, May 14, 2016.

Neal Irwin Steps Down as Head of NTCI Foundation

You can take the boy out of the school, but you can’t take the school out of the boy!

When Neal Irwin graduated from NT in 19neal-irwin-195050, he could never have predicted that he would return to his alma mater fifty years later to chair the North Toronto Foundation and lead it through its most challenging and interesting times. Neal joined the Board in 2000, became co-chair in 2003 and from 2009 served as chair  for four years. During that time, he patiently shepherded us through the challenges associated with moving to the new school and planning the 100th Reunion in 2012.

Neal provided a very strong voice for the Foundation and alumni on the Design Team, a committee composed of TDSB personnel, NT staff, parents, students and alumni working with the architects to shape the new school. He strongly advocated for the creation of the Heritage Courtyard to preserve the spirit and architectural features of the old building, and spearheaded the Red and Grey Campaign, which raised over $100,000—money that was dedicated to furnishing the Heritage Room, providing the playing-field scoreboard and turf, and upgrading display areas and the archives.

At the same time, Neal worked diligently to organize the 100th Reunion; that planning process took over four years. He played a key role in establishing the committees, finding volunteers and dealing with the financial issues.

Neal’s skills in these areas were developed at an early age. His father was the editor of Maclean’s magazine, and Neal grew up with a wonderful background in the exchange of ideas and the exercise of imagination, but with a very pragmatic bent. Postwar Canada offered exciting opportunities for a dedicated young man, and Neal seems to have taken every advantage of what was on offer. He studied hard at NT, played the violin, was active in student life and graduated with the Victoria College Class of 1921 Scholarship in Mathematics and Science. Wanting to broaden his scope, he took social and philosophy studies at Victoria College in his first year, then switched to engineering physics and graduated in 1955. The next few years were varied: two years on a fellowship with English Electric in the U.K.; a job with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., designing the Bruce Nuclear Power station; then a switch in focus—the new field of computer programming and traffic research. At KCS Neal worked with the recently developed mainframe computers, designing forecasting models to improve urban transportation. A new subsidiary was formed, and soon he was working for Traffic Research Corporation, which sent him off to New York in 1960 to open a branch there. He returned to Toronto in 1965, working for TRC as a consultant in city planning, urban policy and transportation. In 1974, he and an architect colleague formed IBI Group, focusing on urban development with other like-minded partners. The firm grew rapidly, expanded into the rest of Canada and the U.S. and is today a highly respected international company. Neal was managing director for about thirty years and continues to consult with them to this day. Carol, his wife of almost fifty years, died a few years ago, but he still enjoys the company of his four children and his grandchildren.

After fourteen years of giving generously of his time and experience, Neal has resigned from the North Toronto Foundation, which has benefited greatly from his business, managerial and personal skills and— most importantly—his exceptional level of commitment to the school. It is due in large part to him that we have a new school that honours its heritage and that the 100th Reunion was a success. It was entirely fitting that, when he stepped down as chair of the Foundation in 2013, NT students presented him with the John “Coach” Taylor Award, in appreciation of his dedication and passion for NT. His generous spirit and inclusiveness continue to be deeply felt by everyone on the Foundation, and we wish him only the very best for the future.

And the Band Plays On…

Thanks to the initiative and talents of NT alumna Jennifer (Jenny) Peace (’71), Ontario’s City of Burlington is now home to a New Horizons Band—a musical group for mature adults who have always wanted to play a band instrument and for those who once played and want to again.

Maytime Melodies fanfare, 1969. Jenny is on the bottom left.

Jenny was bitten by the music bug in Bud Hill’s music class, where she chose the trumpet and, never one to pass on a challenge, stuck to it—determined, to quote Bud, not to “play like a girl.” At Queen’s University, she started out as an English major but switched to music education after spending most of first year hanging around the music building. Now retired from an illustrious teaching career with the Halton District School Board, Jenny continues to pursue her love of music as a performer in the Oakville Symphony (and other groups) and as Clarkson Music Theatre’s music director. Through her commitment to music education and lifelong learning, she connected with the New Horizons International Music Association (http://newhorizonsmusic.org/concept-and-philosophy/). Inspired by their inclusive philosophy that “every person has musical potential that can be developed,” Jenny brought the program to Burlington in 2012.

In January 2015, she and her twenty-six-member band were featured in an article in the Hamilton Spectator (http://www.thespec.com/news-story/5295921-it-s-never-too-late-to-join-the-band/), and since then more budding musicians have joined to swell the ranks. For Jenny, the reward is “seeing people accomplish something they thought they couldn’t do” and sharing her passion for music—a passion that began at NTCI.



WWII Pilot and North Toronto Grad Received Prestigious Military Honour

pilot-officer-douglas-bainFlying Officer Douglas Bain (’39) was killed in action on May 30, 1942, and posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in March 1944. The DFC, presented to his next-of-kin and long treasured by the Bain family, was recently donated to NTCI by his nephew (and NT alumnus) Don Norval for safe-keeping. We are honouring that responsibility; both his Distinguished Flying Cross and military letter are on display in the main hall.

Flying Officer Bain, who served with the RCAF and became one of the Allied Forces’ most outstanding pilots during the Second World War, was recognized during the school’s 2013 Remembrance Day assembly. As Principal Joel Gorenkoff reported, Private Officer John Douglas Norman Bain left NTCI after his final year of high school to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces when war first broke out in 1939. He was formally enlisted on October 8, 1940, finished his training on February 11, 1941, and was then commissioned for the war effort.

His military records contain the following description:

One night Flying Officer Bain piloted an aircraft to attack Aachen along the western tip of Germany. While over the target area, his bomber was seriously damaged when engaged by an enemy fighter. Despite this, Flying Officer Bain made several determined runs over his target. On the return flight, two more enemy fighters were encountered but Flying Officer Bain out-maneuvered them. By superb airmanship and great tenacity he succeeded in flying the crippled bomber home. He displayed commendable courage and a fine fighting spirit in circumstances of great difficulty.

Flying Officer Bain, awarded the DFC for this and his thirty-seven other successful sorties during the war effort, is buried at the Canadian War Cemetery in Noord-Brabant, Holland.