Celebrating 60 years of friendship and camaraderie
Kemptville Agricultural School, or K.A.S. as it became known, was established in September 1916 in Kemptville, Ont., for the purpose of providing practical agricultural training to young men. There were also courses offered in home economics to female students. The school remained in operation until 2016, when the last class of graduates completed their studies. There was one exception. During the war years from 1942 to 1944, studies were suspended when the facilities were used by the Department of National Defence.
Over the years, the school earned the reputation of being a quality educational facility for teaching practical agriculture; it was the only one in eastern Ontario and was attended by students from all areas of the province. There were a few international students as well.
In October 1955, I along with 26 other young men, who were strangers to one another at the time, became K.A.S. students. We were there to study agricultural practices in the fields of animal husbandry, orchard management and care, crop production, meat production and agricultural mechanics, as well as learning good business practices. The same year, 14 young women also enrolled in the home economics course, learning homemaking skills such as menu planning, dietary benefits, nutrition, catering, first
Left: The graduating class in 1957 (Bruce is second from the left, back row); bottom: the graduates reunite at their annual reunion in September 2016. (Bruce is fifth from the left, back row.) aid, sewing and cooking. All the training, for both women and men, was of the highest quality.
Emphasis was also placed on leadership skills with the purpose of sending these young people home, better able to enrich the social and economic life of their respective farms and communities. Many of these graduates returned home and became instrumental in the everyday functions and improvement of their communities.
We completed our courses and graduated from the school in April 1957. In the fall of 1958, at the urging of one of our classmates, we held a reunion of students from our year. These reunions have continued every year since that time and we are extremely grateful to have been able to carry on what has become a tradition and an event not to be missed.
We’ve also had the pleasure of having one of our instructors join us most years.
The reunions are held at various locations across Ontario and are hosted by a different graduate each year, who decides where it will be held.
It must be noted that over the years we have come to be more like family than classmates. The friendships made during our Kemptville days have cemented themselves over the years and as we are now seniors, these reunions are even more special. This year, K.A.S. ’57 will hold our 60th reunion in Lombardy, Ont.
It goes without saying that over the years we have lost some of our treasured classmates, but we have been very blessed to have been able to carry on many of our friendships and we hope to continue to meet for years to come.
When we consider that 2017 is Canada’s 150th birthday, we realize that we have now been getting together as friends for more than a third of that time. ■