It was a school reunion like no other, and in a town like no other.
On the 30th of June 2015, hundreds of former high school students [plus a handful of teachers] turned out for a special get-together in Campbellton, New Brunswick, Canada. The event was, well, beyond cool.
The two good-looking seniors on our cover mugshot: Ruby [MacCallum] Nugent and David Humphrey, former Campbellton High School Student Council Pres.
Before we go any further, let’s get groovin’ with a ’58 rock and roll instrumental — ‘Rebel Rouser’ by the master of twang, Duane Eddy! …
Speaking of rebel rousers, the five-hour affair at the Campbellton Memorial Civic Centre — billed as “Brian’s Dream” — was in memory of the late Brian [‘Fish’] MacNeish of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The former C.H.S. student died from a stroke on February 15, 2014 — his 64th birthday.
In the summer of 2013, Brian — just a year and a half away from retirement — organized an impromptu gathering of former students from the three high schools in Campbellton.
The man who became known and loved for putting others ahead of himself rented a small hall in town and ordered in finger food — all on his own dime. In a world that has gone ‘me,’ Brian MacNeish stayed ‘us.’ The man wasn’t here to take. He was here to give.
Towards the very end of this post is a special treat: a 24-minute slideshow produced by Susan Caron, one of the organizers of Brian’s Dream. Her presentation — a cool trip down memory lane, it is — features scores of old photos of former classmates and teachers. Check it out.
Gotta say, I was impressed with how things went that night.
Here’s my photo essay, with a few comments thrown in, two short videos … plus [drum roll please] … some oldies by two California-based pop groups, The Beach Boys and the We Five.
Let’s face it, no high school reunion would be complete without “oldies” …Song #1 … ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ by the Beach Boys … Click on the tiny white arrow to be transported back to CKNB, ‘950 on your dial’ … and 1964! …
To keep the corporate police happy, all songs on this post are available on iTunes. They’ll cost you a buck … or in today’s parlance, a loonie.
I graduated from Campbellton High in 1967 — Canada’s Centennial Year — and 48 years later, finally showed up for a school reunion. At this rate, my next school reunion will be in 2063.
A lot of work went into this event and the result was that the main meeting room at the Civic Centre was packed with some very satisfied folk.
Things were scheduled to get underway at six, but when Susan [Irvine] Caron arrived — 20 minutes early or so — more than half a dozen former students were waiting for the show to hit the road. Such was the interest that night.
From the moment I picked up my name tag at the front door, I could tell that Brian’s Dream was a class act.
I showed up with a CHS yearbook from ’67, an iPhone camera, some notes for a short speech … and memories that came back again and again, like waves crashing on the beach. That’s a nice tie-in to the Beach Boys, I know.
After just a few minutes in the room, I wasn’t sure of the year. My brain said 2015; my heart, 1967.
As Fraser Farquhar put it, there was an electricity in the air, not unlike that of a rock concert. People talked non-stop, looking back at all we’ve been through. Not surprising. A lot goes on in half a century.
They broke up into small groups and shared stories about their children, grandchildren, careers, stuff they did, where they lived and places they visited. But mostly they talked about the past, teachers they loved and appreciated … and the old days. Let’s be honest here, that era has gone forever.
In the audience of 250 was [second from left in the photo below] Shirley MacNeish, widow of Brian MacNeish. Shirley arrived with their daughter Avery plus Brian’s sister, Cheryl White and Brian’s cousin, Syd Demeau.
For those at Shirley’s table, it was a night of mixed emotions.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Fish’s spirit made an appearance as well …
More Beach Boys … “Surfer Girl” [1963 hit] … runs 2:28 …
A BIG FAMILY GATHERING
I spent the evening checking name tags, chatting it up with folk, collecting autographs and, of course, snapping photos. At times, I was torn from being a participant in an exciting event to a reporter covering it.
When we graduated we were fresh-faced, innocent teens who didn’t know much. We “grew up” and … 50 years later … walked into the Civic Centre as grey-haired and no-haired judges, lawyers, surgeons, nurses, teachers, principals, electricians, supervisors, pilots, engineers, environmentalists, you name it.
While some arrived back in Campbellton that night with luggage, no one had any baggage. That’s noteworthy because, let’s face it, life can be messy. I heard no one complain about the cards they’d been dealt. A cutesy way of putting it is that if anyone had pain, they sure weren’t one.
Brian’s Dream was all positive and like the old-time music playing that evening — very upbeat.
Those at the reunion were certainly on a high, though not from booze or dope. There was a magic in the air, not unlike the joy of a Christmas morning. Sorry for getting touchy-feely on you, but that’s how it was.
Not only did I feel good [and, yes, stressed about being in a room with so many people; sorry it’s a silly condition I have], I was proud to be back in Campbellton and at the school reunion.
Oh. One more thing, three really. There was no rap music, no one hid their face with a hoodie … and if anyone wore a baseball cap, they had it on straight.
Here’s a short video clip of the bubbly scene that evening. Recognize anyone?Song #3 … ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’ by The Beach Boys …  Song #3 … ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ by the Beach Boys … 
A YEARBOOK AND AUTOGRAPHS
Our fourth and final tune is a 1965 “smash” hit by the We Five … ‘You Were On My Mind.’ David spun this record a LOT when he was a DJ at CKNB in the mid-1960s.
One of Canada’s youngest radio announcers became a lawyer.
COMMENTS ON FACEBOOK …
‘When I stopped for gas this morning on Roseberry Street, it was the talk between workers and customers. Yesterday when I was at the Village, it was the upcoming news event. The [Organizing] Committee has much to be proud of. This memory is now imprinted forever, and it’s a great one.” [Rhea Gagnier Whalen]
“The sun is up and finally so am I! My memory bank is full of faces, facts and memories. Such an amazing job of keeping the event building over so many months. Arriving there was more electrifying than any Rolling Strones concert! God Bless my Campbellton!” [Fraser Farquhar]
“A time to remember, for sure. Amazing party. Kudos to the organizers and to Brian MacNeish who is probably still rocking!!!! Bless him.” [Pam Allain]
‘OMG! Wasn’t that a party?!?!?!?!” To use a phrase from the 60s, RIGHT ON!! [Penny Adams]
‘Great to see you Penny’ [Mike Day]
“Penny, it was so much fun! Seeing you again, it was like old times.” [Liliane Thomas]
“What a nice time warp!” [Katy Gillan]
“Great party!” [Carmel Roy Dumont]
“Thanks everyone, organizers and attendees, for the great time last night. I’m not sure which amazes me more … how much I remembered about the good old days, or how much I had forgotten.” [John Hutchinson]
“It was a fantastic, fun event … from start to finish. Music was great and today I’m hoarse. Thanks to the Organizing Committee. Hope there’s another one sometime.” [Christy English]
“I guess I’m not the only one who ended up being hoarse. We certainly did lots of talking! What a night to remember! Hats off to the organizers. Many thanks to those who made Brian’s Dream a reality.” [Ann and Bob Melville]
“I want to thank you all for all the work you did for the party. Thanks everbody for the great memories and for bringing up the past memories — the ones I remember and the ones I forgot. It was soon nice seeing you all again. What a gift to have been there.” [Audrey Brown]
“Last night was sheer happiness, loved seeing everyone, and was so happy to see Brian’s family there, friends we haven’t seen in so many years and new friendships forged. It was better than I could have possibly dreamed!! Thanks everyone for being you … you’re all incredible. Maritimers are special!!!” [Marlie [Dow] Wirtanen]
“Wonderful! Thanks to the organizers.” [Dan MacDonald]
“I am good vibrating from the night and expecting tremors for a while. Bravo organizers and special mention to Fred.” [Richard J. Blaquiere]
“What a crowd out last night. Had a fantastic time. Congrats to everyone that put it all together.” [Ken Day]
“Had a great time and so nice to see the expressions when people were looking at the name tags.” [Doris Pollock]
“It was a beautiful evening. It had love written all over it. So much work from this Committee.” [Fred Durette]
“Great time! Thanks to all who organized!” [Barbara Methot]
“That was such a terrific gathering and so much fun!!! Thank you to each one of the organizers for the wonderful job you did. So much effort you all invested in getting us all together!!! I’m thrilled to have attended our ‘do’ and had a great time.” [Maxine MacMillian]
“Nice to see Marian Humphrey hasn’t changed since she taught me in high school!” [Colin MacMillan]
“Marian Humphrey should be studied because she has not aged a day since she taught me in high school!!! What a beautiful lady!” [Nancy Margaret Firth Glidden]
“Fun! Fun! Fun! So exciting to see people we haven’t seen in years!” [Bev [Conners] Mailloux]
I gave a short talk — though not everyone could hear it. That’s because some were so excited to see old friends that they couldn’t stop yakking!
Part of the problem also was that the acoustics in the room weren’t the greatest. The result was that those at the podium could not be heard that well — especially by people milling about near the main door.Back to the speech … I began by telling the crazy story of what happened on Sunday afternoon in Prince Edward Island when I mistakenly walked into the wrong cabin which — unfortunately for the middle-aged couple in the sack — was unlocked. Ooops. Won’t get into details because I have no idea how many nuns check out this blog.
Christ, what do you say when something embarrassing like that happens? “Don’t get up? …”
The focus of my talk was about how proud I was to be from Campbellton — and why. I talked about how, just two days before, an excited youngster at the Hopewell Rocks in southern New Brunswick showed his parents a small stone he’d found on the beach. Said he was keeping it as a “souvenir” … and with a grin that only a kid can flash, he slipped the stone into his pocket.I explained that when I left town — long, long ago — I too kept a piece of Campbellton. It wasn’t a stone, but a touchstone: memories — some very fond ones of growing up in a small town in Northern New Brunswick.
And so I tucked these memories away in my heart … and when I traveled far away and got homesick, these wonderful reminiscences made me glow, giving me confidence and peace. In the blink of an eye, and sometimes a wet one, I was magically transported thousands of miles to God’s Country.
I also pointed out that I was very proud of Campbellton, in part because of the many successful people who call it ‘home.’ Just scratching the surface here, there are a number of National Hockey League players, Peter Maher [Hockey Hall of Fame], Patsy Gallant, Charlie Van Horne, Tom Wright, Don Hume, Stephen Wetmore [CEO of Canadian Tire], Marc Chouinard, Mike Day, a Rhodes scholar or two … and of course Brian MacNeish. Again, just scratching the surface … there are more of course. Many more. [I’ve not included them all because I’m trying to cut back on the size of these posts.]
Some of our heroes lived thousands of miles distant, but not all. Some lived just down the street, or at the other end of town.
That tells you everything you need to know about why people who originate from Campbellton still call it home, even though they’ve been away for decades.
THE MAGICIANS WHO MADE IT ALL POSSIBLE
A six-member committee [all women!] organized Brian’s Dream. And they did a wonderful, wonderful job. Like Brian MacNeish, we owe them so much …
- Susan [Irvine] Caron
- Marlie [Dow] Wirtanen
- Ann [Butler] Power
- Doris [White] Pollock
- Susan [Wood] Porter
- Penny Adams
SUSAN CARON’S SLIDESHOW [runs 24:05]
A cool trip down memory lane — without any speed bumps …
ORIGINAL STORY ON BRIAN MACNEISH [February 2015]
CHS & AAC MEMORIAL LIST …
Want to read the names with — or without — music? Your choice. Click on the white arrow to hear the Theme from The Cider House Rules by The Soundtrack and Theme Orchestra. It’s an instrumental piece and runs 2:06.
Ian ADAMS – Marcia ADAMS – Jack ALLANACH – Denis ALLARD – Bill ALLEN – Daryl ANDERSON – Judy ANDERSON – Vance ANDERSON – Bryce ANDREW – Marina ARSENAULT – Paulette ARSENAULT – Jocelyn ARSENEAU – Randy ARSENEAU – Dennis AUCOIN – Shane BARTON – Robert BECKER – Douglas BARRON – Lester BENWELL – Raymond BERNIER – George BERUBE – Margot COLE–BILLINGSLEY – Allan BLACK – David BROOKS – Charlie BROWN – Lois BUCHANAN – Marion BUTLAND-COOL – Gary CHARLONG – Roger CHEDORE – Lynn CHESSER-GODBOUT – Jay CHESSER – Bob CHESSER – Bill CHESSER – Gayle CHESSER – Marc CHOUINARD – Ruth Ann CHRISTOPHER-BEALS – John CLARK – Darrel COCHRANE – Helen COCHRANE – John COLLINS – Gordon COMEAU – Robert COOK – Dennis COOLING – Kay DAWSON-TAYLOR – Heather DICKSON-BAUM – Mary DISBROW-MACLEAN – Alexander DOUCET – Lloyd DOUCET – Eva DUBE – Warren DUNCAN – Bill EDMUNDS – Bobby EDMUNDS – Christine EDMUNDS-BUJOLD – Gary EDWARDS – Bobby ELIAS – Lauren ELIAS – Jim ENGLISH – Jock ENGLISH – Roger ESSIEMBRE – Harry FERGUSON – Madeline FIRLOTTE – Rick FIRLOTTE – Margot FLOYD-MAHONEY – Stephen FRASER – Sharon FRASER-JELLY – John FRENETTE – Peter FRENETTE – Charlie FURLOTTE – Ron FURLOTTE – Anne-Marie GALLANT – Jo-Ann GALLUP – Walter GLOVER – Gloria GOUDREAU-MCILVEEN – Sharon GREGOIRE-STEINER – Valmond GREGOIRE – Greg GUIDRY – Terry GUIDRY – Theresa GUIMOND-POLEY – Robert HAMILTON – Barry HARQUAIL – Lee Murray HAWKINS – Ron HENDERSON – O’Leary HENNESSEY – Bonnie HILL – David HOYT – Martin HUIBERS – Elizabeth HUM – Roger HUM – Donald HUMPHREY – Judith HUNTER – Barbara HUNTINGTON – Ann HUTCHINSON-CHEDORE – Terry JAGOE – Jeff JARDINE – Sandra KEAYS – Ken KEELEY – Heather KELLY – Mike KELLY – Rick KIERSTEAD – Terry KIERSTEAD – Doug KINGSTON – Raymond LAGACY – Reggie LAGACY – Jacques LANTEIGNE – Ed LAPOINTE – Bob LARLEE – Wanda LAXTON-CYR – Alan LEGACY – Brenda LEGACY – Laurie LOUDEN – Bill MACCALLUM – Bob MACCALLUM – Dave MACDONALD – Rick MACDONALD – Ron MACDONALD – Elizabeth MACFARLANE ANSLOW – Gary MACKAY – Sandra MACKAY – David MACKENZIE – Jane MACLENNAN-DUTTON – James MACMILLAN – Brian MACNEISH – Brian MAHONEY – Dan MAHONEY – Ronald MAHONEY – Harry MAISEY – Mitch MAISEY – Bernie MALTAIS – Lornie MANN – Murdock MANN – Stephen MANN – Paula MARTIN – Tom MCBREARTY – Gary MCCULLY – Dale MCDAVID – Duane MCDAVID – James MCINTYRE – Sandra MCKIEL-ROSS – Rick MCRAE – Lorna MILLER – Mary MILLER-MENZIES-LYONS – Gilles MANVILLE – Michael MORRIS – Keith MUNDLE – Allan MURRAY – George MURRAY – Gail NEILSON – Jimmy NICHOL – Helen O’BLENES – Danny OLSCAMP – Dina OLSCAMP – Molly O’TOOLE-DESROCHER – Linda OUELLETTE – Barbara Ann PARENT – Ida THOMAS-PARENT – Jean PARENT – Don PARKER – Steven PARKER – Gary PAYNE – Helen PAYNE-MAHER – John PAYNE – Maureen PAYNE – Bill PAYNE – Gary PERKISON – Jean-Paul PICARD – Gerry POLEY – Jackson POLLOCK – Joanne POLLOCK – Sherry POLLOCK – Marc RIOUX – Delta ROBERTSON – John ROBINSON – Jackie ROBINSON – Maurice ROY – Yvette ROY – Roland ST. LAURENT – Barry SANSOM – Jacques SAVOIE – Sonny SAVOIE – Stephen SAVOIE – Wayne SAVOIE – Mondo SERVANT – Frederick ‘Rick’ SHALALA – Mike SHALALA – Raymond SHALALA – Stephen SHALALA – David SHERRARD – Barbara SMITH – David STEEVES – Holly Jean STEEVES – Fred STEINER – Ann ST. LAURENT-DURETTE – Roger ST. LAURENT – James SULLIVAN – Vaughn SULLIVAN – John SUTHERLAND – Robert SUTHERLAND – Donald TARGETT – Howie TAYLOR – Charlie THOMAS – Keith THOMPSON – Ritchie THOMPSON – Stewart THOMPSON – Clares TRITES – Karen TRITES-HENKEL – Michel VERMETTE – Brenda VICK-FIOLA – Jimmy WADE – Ken WALSH – Cindy WHALEN – Beecher WHITE – Carol Ann WHITE – Kathy WIRTANEN – Donnie WOOD – Kenny WOODS.