Shawnigan alumni flooded back to campus on Saturday, October 22 for the first in-person Founder’s Day since 2019.
All alumni are welcome back every Founder’s Day, but this year’s event was specifically focused on those who graduated in 1952, 1962, 1972, 1982, 1992, 2002 and 2012, as well as the Class of 1997, who returned for their 25th anniversary. Founder’s Day gives alumni a great chance to catch up with each other and their former teachers, and to see their old campus, which, for several grads, has undergone many changes since they left the School.
The oldest graduate who attended this year’s Founder’s Day was Tom Goodenough ’52 (Groves’), marking 70 years since he graduated, and the youngest were from 2019. Mr. Goodenough was one of four former Board Chairs who attended Founder’s Day, joining current Board Chair Fiona Macfarlane. Also in attendance was Richard Lonsdale ’62 (Groves’), a great-nephew of Shawnigan’s founder, C.W. Lonsdale.
The Class of 1972 marked the 50th anniversary of their graduation with the traditional Gold Club Luncheon, and announced the creation of the Spirit of ’72 Foundation and a scholarship to support students who need financial assistance to attend Shawnigan. The stated goal was to have everyone in the class participate in raising money, regardless of how much they were able to donate, and they were able to collect around $210,000. A tree was also planted on campus to honour the Class of 1972. Notably, one member of the class had saved the banner from their graduation, and he brought it along for the reunion.
Two members of the Class of 1972 — Hamish Angus (Ripley’s) and Len Chaston (Lonsdale’s) spoke in a special Founder’s Day Chapel service. Mr. Angus noted that there were some from his class who hadn’t been back to campus since they graduated, and how much things had changed in the ensuing half-century.
“One thing that hasn’t changed is that little twinge when you come through the front gate,” he commented. “Whether you are a current student or one who’s been around for 50 years, you know what I mean; it’s still there.”
In announcing the Spirit of ’72 Scholarship, Mr. Angus talked about the importance of giving back to the School and the inspiration behind the class’s foundation.
“Giving back is one of the biggest responsibilities of the alumni,” he said. “In giving back, someone once said, some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their own lifeblood, but everyone has something to give.”
Mr. Chaston said the most important thing he learned at Shawnigan was not something taught in classrooms or coached on the sports fields: the value of friendship. Friends, he said, are the foundation of life.
“If you have an awesome family, that’s great, and that’s one of the blessings you will always enjoy,” he said. “But you don’t choose your family, and sometimes your ideas on what you want to get out of life will be different from theirs. And when that happens, you have to make the brave and sometimes lonely choice of going in a different direction from your family, and that is when your friends are going to be the best allies that you have.”
Founder’s Day also featured Shawnigan’s Annual General Meeting, and a wide range of activities for alumni, including tours of the campus, boarding houses and Growing Dome, an art class, a rock band performance, a robotics demonstration, and paddling the Thunder Indigenous Rugby canoe. There was also touch rugby and rowing for alumni that coincided with signing of renewed Memoranda of Understanding with both Rugby Canada and Rowing Canada.
The afternoon saw Shawnigan’s Grade 9 rugby team take on St. George’s School, and the evening featured a U15 Prep ice hockey game against the North Shore Warriors, part of a Canadian Sports School Hockey League Showcase at the Charlie Purdey Arena.
We acknowledge with respect the Coast Salish Peoples on whose traditional lands and waterways we live, learn and play. We are grateful for the opportunity to share in this beautiful region, and we aspire to healthy and respectful relationships with those who have lived on and cared for these lands for millennia.
Shawnigan Lake School is an independent co-educational boarding school for ages 13 –18 on Canada’s beautiful West Coast. Our diverse, interdisciplinary and innovative programming helps shape the next generation of global leaders.