Arthur Pitman attended grade 9 at GCVI in the new school that opened in 1923 and he left in 1926. In the new high school he enjoyed attending classes in the woodworking, machine shop and electricity rooms. These rooms had all new equipment for students to use. He also remembers taking spelling and writing.
When they laid the corner stone of the Collegiate in 1923 many of the students were grouped around and singing. At one time both buildings, the old limestone building and the new brick building, were side by side but Arthur never attended classes in the old limestone school building.
Arthur remembers the old school bell that hung in the bell tower of the old school. He even heard the old bell ring on occasion.
Mr. John F. Ross was the Principal at the time and Arthur remembers that Mr. Ross was a nice man, a strong man and well respected. Arthur was never sent to the Principal’s office but he recalls that one day Mr. Ross came into his class and picked up one of the students by the shirt and lifted him out of his seat to take him to the office.
Arthur Pitman lived next door to the Collegiate at 45 Arnold St. This address does not exist today. Norrie Ryde was an older student, friend and next-door neighbour of Arthur Pitman. Norrie’s father was the caretaker of the Collegiate. The new school had a pool in the basement and when the pool was first filled with water Norrie’s dad asked both Norrie and Arthur to stir up the waters. Arthur was the first of the boys to dive into the pool and remembers the water was cold. To this day Arthur’s claim to fame is that he was the first person to swim in the pool. At one time the school also had a rifle range set up in the basement of the school. Arthur received a bronze pin for his marksmanship. He can look at his pin at any time, because he has kept his pin all these years.
His school day ended at 4:00 pm and sometimes after school the boys would play baseball on the playing field behind the school. There was creek that ran under the playing field and under the school and eventually flowed down to the river. Arthur laughingly remembers when they played baseball and hit the ball beyond the playing field and onto the roadway. The ball would sometimes fall into the creek. Someone would have to run and take off one of the 2 manhole covers that were on the playing field at that time. As the ball floated down the creek and underground towards them, they would then be able to reach down to retrieve the ball as it floated by.
In the winter time there was a skating rink out behind the school and Arthur remembers skating many times after school on that rink.
Usually in the summer time he would help Norrie’s dad with some caretaking duties in the old Collegiate. He would help by taking out the inkwells from the desks and washing them out. He would also go outside and slap the chalkboard brushes together to get rid of the chalk dust.
During his final year of high school, Arthur received an offer to work at Loblaws. Arthur returned his books to school and left high school around mid June and started working at Loblaws. He became Assistant Manager within six months. Because Arthur left during his last year of high school he never received his diploma.
Arthur attended the Saturday and Sunday events of our 150th reunion in May 2004. Arthur has a son, Philip who is a great help to him and 2 grandsons.
After our interview, G.C.V.I.’s Principal, Judy Sorbara, presented Arthur Pitman with an honorary diploma from The Guelph Collegiate-Vocational Institute. We extend our congratulations to Arthur (who was in his 98th year.) Thank you Arthur for sharing your memories of the Collegiate.
This interview took place in December, 2006.