July 30, 2018

Summer Science I

Gordie Howe off the Ice

The telegram arrived on April 30, 1965. I had never before received a telegram, and it brought exciting news.


My application to participate in the Royal Canadian Institute's Summer Science Program had been accepted, and I became one of 35 high-school participants from across Canada in this six-week program focusing on mathematics and science.


There were three students from Toronto. I was about to complete Grade 11 at Harbord Collegiate. Ian Graham was in Grade 12 at Lawrence Park Collegiate, and Larry Kazdan was at Forest Hill Collegiate.

We three met for the first time in June, when we were invited to appear on a local afternoon talk show, accompanied by Dr. Charlotte M. Sullivan, a biologist at the University of Toronto. She drove us to the CFTO-TV studio extolling the virtues of her vintage Citroen, a type of car that none of us had experienced before.

Our interview went well, but I was even more thrilled with the chance to meet National Hockey League star Gordie Howe, who was a guest on an earlier segment of the show, and to obtain an autographed photo. And we got to sample desserts left over from a cooking episode.

The first five weeks of the program took place at the Lakefield Preparatory School (originally "The Grove Preparatory School for Boys" and renamed Lakefield College School in 1966), just outside of Lakefield, Ontario.


Entrance and roadway leading up to Lakefield Preparatory School, about a mile from the center of the small town of Lakefield, Ontario.

Ian and I came by bus from Toronto to Peterborough, just 17 miles from Lakefield, and were among the first of our group to arrive. We were sharing the campus with boys who were attending summer school, and we could take advantage of the school's classrooms, dorms, dining facilities (with waitress service), tennis courts, baseball fields, riverside beach and dock, and more.


Sleeping quarters.

We stayed in a campus dorm, with six people to a room. Our accommodations were very basic--a small, hard bed with a skimpy pillow and a thin mattress on a wood frame. We each had a small closet and a storage drawer under the bed.


Dining hall.

The dining hall was new and the food service friendly and accommodating. The food itself, however, usually left a lot to be desired, and we would joke and speculate about (and  try to analyse) mystery meat and other menu delights. As time went on, I found myself spending pocket money on snacks (mainly fruit) from town.

Another major expense was laundry. We had to do our own laundry via periodic trips to the laundromat and to cleaners in town for items like shirts. To save money, we often combined loads, but I eventually ended up with blue underwear. My other main expense was film for my camera.


Situated on the shore of the Otonabee River, the school offered opportunities for swimming and boating.

From the first Saturday night, the common room became our main social center, where we could enjoy playing cards, shooting pool, talking, and more talking, particularly in the evenings before lights out. Singing was also part of the fun. Hugh Laurence had brought his 12-string guitar and a large repertoire of folk songs and other ditties and was always ready to lead a singalong. Over the course of our five-week stay, we celebrated at least eight birthdays.


A cabin in the woods served as our common room.

By Sunday, July 4, everyone had arrived. As we talked and got to know each other during our common room sessions, we quickly realized that many of us had come with the sense that we would be out of place, completely left out among scientific and mathematical geniuses. The reality was quite different. Although everyone shared a strong interest in and some experience with science and we all had excellent grades at school, we had a wide range of interests and talents, a strong sense of curiosity, and a penchant for fun (with a touch of mischief).


Participants in the Royal Canadian Institute's Summer Science Program, 1965

Alan A. Adamson, Manotick, Ontario
John Atchison, Haileybury, Ontario
Bunty J. Bains, Victoria, British Columbia
Gordon Brown, Kingston, Ontario
Kim S. Cameron, Todd's Island, Nova Scotia
Susan Cochrane, Lancaster, New Brunswick
Patricia Cogan, Montreal, Quebec
David Cuthiell, Edmonton, Alberta
Diane Douglas, Fort Smith, Northwest Territories
William P. Falkner, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Ian R. Graham, Toronto, Ontario
Barbara Heller, Vancouver, British Columbia
Laurence Kazdan, Toronto, Ontario
Arthur Kidd, Windsor, Ontario
Fred Kosmolak, Neepawa, Manitoba
Peter Kowalczyk, Ladner, British Columbia
Gordon Langford, Fort William, Ontario
Hugh G. Laurence, Whitby, Ontario
Leontine A. Stewart, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Geraldine Logie, Calgary, Alberta
Brian C. Margetson, Frankford, Ontario
Elizabeth A. Meeds, Nipawin, Saskatchewan
Dorothy Miller, Markham, Ontario
Robert D. Nell, Francis, Saskatchewan
Desmond Norris, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
John A. Norton, Pakenham, Ontario
Ivars Peterson, Toronto, Ontario
Douglas Pritchard, Lively, Ontario
Richard A. Seary, St. John's, Newfoundland
Patricia Sheridan, North Bay, Ontario
Gino Tancon, Ocean Falls, British Columbia
Patricia Thorpe, Edmundston, New Brunswick
Dennis H. Waddington, Utterson, Ontario
Michael R. K. Waters, Owen Sound, Ontario
Margaret L. Wood, Drayton, Ontario

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