My first meaningful encounter with Halifax, other than as a capital of a province on a map hanging on my childhood bedroom wall, was reading a book, Barometer Rising, in Grade Nine. The novel was written by one of the early luminaries of Canadian fiction, Hugh McLennan, and was set against the backdrop of the explosion in Halifax harbour in 1917: 2,000 people died in this explosion of a French vessel carrying munitions for the war in Europe. Prior to the detonation of the first atomic bomb in 1945, the Halifax Explosion was the largest man-made explosion in history.
I have now been to Halifax several times. I recommend it: one of Canada’s oldest cities, with an impressive working harbour, friendly and scenic. I am here now for the annual conference of our national body of independent schools, Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS). For the past six years I have been on the board of the organization, and yesterday was my last board meeting, so it is a milestone of sorts. Our school was the first independent school in BC to be accredited by CAIS and its predecessor, CESI, in 1999. We have long felt it was important for SMUS to regularly hold itself up to the scrutiny of knowledgeable external eyes: our next accreditation visit will be in the fall of 2017.
On Tuesday I was in Toronto, where we held our annual Toronto alumni reception. The turnout was excellent. I observed last spring in Vancouver that now when we hold an alumni reception, the majority of attendees are alums who have graduated since 1995, when I became Head of SMUS. A healthy contingent of very recent grads comes from University of Toronto. The rest are now carving their own lives, having settled in the city. I tell them how wonderful it is to see the paths they have chosen across a swath of careers from law to politics to health care to business. Among the alums in attendances was Simon Ibell, whom I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, who chairs the Ibellieve Foundation. Also present was our Distinguished Alum of the year, Michael Code, class of 1967. Michael has had a varied and significant legal career, and is now an Ontario Supreme Court judge. He will be at the School next week, speaking to students, visiting classes, and addressing our Founders’ Dinner next Thursday night. I hope as many people as possible get a chance to see him.