It’s been 87 years since Bill Neal first stepped foot on campus but he remembers it like it was yesterday.
The 100-year-old graduate of the Class of 1934 flew solo to Aurora last week from his home in Newfoundland to attend the 50+ Year Reunion Dinner and Annual Cadet Inspection. On Friday afternoon, he dropped by the School to give a brief but fascinating talk to the SAC community, including students from grades 5 to 12, Old Boys, faculty, and staff.
With his eyes sparkling and his voice strong, Bill began by relating the story of the long journey in 1929 from his home town of St. John’s to the recently built St. Andrew’s College in Aurora. He recounted the six-day journey with his mother, as they travelled by boat, train, and private vehicle and how he felt like a mouse upon meeting the “imposing” Headmaster Dr. D. Bruce Macdonald.
He described watching the Chapel and Macdonald House being built. A drummer in the Cadet Corps in his day, he captivated the audience by the scope of his memories and the detail of his recollections, as he recalled the names of teachers, the amount of weekly pocket money (75 cents), the sports he played, and the long-held regret that he didn’t receive his first-team colours. Prefects Arthur Chiu and Vitaliy Shevchuk were enthralled by his descriptions of Flavelle House, their house, both believing that Bill was formerly a resident in their room.
Bill said he has visited about 25 times since he graduated, taking pleasure in driving around the campus to see the changes. He remains connected to SAC through is great grandson, current grade 12 student, Jack Irwin.
To hear more about SAC life over eighty years ago, click here to listen to Bill’s talk.
Story by Sue Hayter