It all started as part of the usual reminiscences to be expected at any reunion - it was the 1950s Decade Reunion in the spring of 2014. All I did was answer a question during lunch from Hugh MacDonald ’55, “Are you related to Admiral Hugh Pullen?” That question became the acorn from which the LCS Military History Project grew into a massive and spreading oak tree of immense proportion.
Over the ensuing months, Hugh began to uncover and collect a treasure trove of information about the role our little school has played in Canada’s military history.
The idea and mission was simple, take advantage of both the collective memories of our generation and the advantages of current technology to assemble and chronicle this history for the benefit of students for years to come.
I had to admit to myself, what did I really know of the actual exploits of my own extended families war efforts? Even though WW2 was the defining event of their generation, I grew up with the reality that they collectively never really wanted to talk about it. The fact that the war had happened and they had all been heavily involved or impacted was simply a given and a fact of life in the late 1940s early 1950s. When I was growing up, it was just the elephant in the room – a fact of our life but not to be talked about beyond necessity. Therefore, I was doubly sensitive to the appeal of the project.
The facts are that of the nine siblings on both sides of my parent’s extended Oakville/Lakefield family, six served with distinction in WW2 and one gave his life. Four of the six were Lakefield Old Boys.
For those of us from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s (and earlier) the LCS experience had four aspects: school, sports, chapel and cadets. Cadet training was an extremely important dimension of school life culminating in the much anticipated inspection and dance, usually held on the Victoria Day Weekend, which was one of the most important events of the entire school year.
I was approached to act as Chair of the committee and Hugh, with the help of Kate Ramsay (School Archivist) and the Communications Office, began to recruit a dedicated group of Old Boys including Jim DeWolf ’58 and Peter Ward ’49. The list of volunteers expanded with each email exploration and came to include, among others, Brian Hull ’63, Kim Little ’53, Frank Pearce ’53, Bill Rashleigh ’54, Alick Ryder ’55, Tom Ryder ’53, Donald Ross ’48, Kit Pullen ’57, Losel Tethong ’89, Jeff Agnew ’72 and Colin Tretheway ’87 – and the list of collaborators continues to grow – providing more leads to more lost connections.
With Hugh’s tenacity and leadership, we unearthed connections to eleven Admirals of varying stripes and associations with the school, either as old boys or fathers of same, and attention turned to other branches of the armed forces. More important, attention turned to the actual stories that gave context to their lives.
The stories are many, the history rich. I encourage you to read John Boyko’s, Values and Valued Service: The Military History of LCS. Please keep in mind the story is not complete – and it never will be. We continue to gather information and ask for your assistance to share your family stories, memories and experiences.
Tony Pullen ’63
Chair, LCS Military History Project