It’s Tra­di­tion

Cel­e­brat­ing 60 years of friend­ship and ca­ma­raderie

More of Our Canada - - Content - By Bruce Cum­mings, Kanata, Ont.

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. ■

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