|The Reunion was held on the week-end of October
19th to 21st, 2001. We were blessed with wonderful Fall weather - clear
and cool for all 3 days. The rain held off until we were leaving the final
activity on the Sunday afternoon.
A total of 207 people attended and participated in most of the activities. They ranged in age from those in their early 50's to those in their mid 80's. One lady attended the school from 1931 to 1933 and returned to teach in 1960. Students returned from many places - all accross Canada from British Columbia to Nova Scotia; from the western United States such as California, Nevada, Arizona, and the eastern - from Michigan, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine. The traveller who came the farthest lived in Switzerland.
The reunion was held in a small country hotel outside Montreal but close to the site of the school property, museum, and church. The actual reunion started with Registration and check-in at the hotel beginning at 3 pm on Friday, October 19th. The registration fee included a Wine and Cheese party on Friday evening at 7.30 pm; the Banquet on Saturday evening; and a farewell luncheon after church on Sunday. All other meals were the responsibility of those attending.
The Wine and Cheese Party set the scene and atmosphere for the week-end. With the late starting time of 7.30 pm, everyone had already eaten so the food was more of a dessert. The hotel staff brought it out gradually ensuring that everyone nibbled instead of gorging themselves. Talk was plentiful with lots of hugs as old friends met each other once again - some renewing friendships forged while in school more than 40 years previously. By 10.30 pm, most were heading off to bed, only the 'night-owls' remained later, still wide awake and chatting.
After breakfast on Saturday, the men chose to try to play a Basketball game at the nearby community center. All those who wished to play gathered on the court at 9 am and divided themselves into 2 teams. It wasn't a traditional team of 5 players but rather half of those present on each team. If you can visualize the size of the court, it looked a lot bigger than we remembered it as youngsters. The game was hilarious to watch as the players, men and 2 Ladies in their 50's, 60's and 70's ran up and down the court, tripping over themselves, crashing into others, and trying to get the ball in-the-net. The total time played was less than an hour with breaks when needed. The final score - 8 to 6!! When everyone recovered, it was off to lunch or back to the hotel (or both).
Most of us went out to see the School Museum in the afternoon. It was housed in the original Log Cabin occupied by the founder of the school in 1836, a Swiss French-speaking Lady Baptist missionary. Her furnishings, old class pictures, and other memorabilia were placed round the walls. She had started the school with the children of neighbouring farmers wishing for a French Protestant education. Her first class had 4 students, I believe.
The curator of the museum, an student of Feller, lived just up-the-road from the school site. At 2 pm, she opened the church and gave us a talk on the history of the school. There were pictures on the walls of the chapel and sunday school in the basement showing more history of the church, school, and other French Baptist churches in Quebec.
Following the lecture, we wandered around the area, looking at the houses where the principal and vice-principal had lived so many years before. The gymnasium was now a medical center, but open to us for the day, showing the architects' drawings and pictures of the school being built in 1903 - a stone structure 4 floors tall with a wing for the girls and another for the boys. The central part connecting the two wings housed the school office, library, classrooms, book shop, and more bedrooms for the residents. Nothing of the building remains today as a fire destroyed it in December 1968 after the building had been sold.
We returned to the hotel to get ready for the 'main event' - the Banquet. Starting late at 7 pm with a fruit punch and canapes, we ate a 4-course dinner starting at 8 pm. The tables were organized by our year of graduation but some chose to sit with friends at other tables. At 11 pm, we had the entertainment for the evening - the comedy duo of "Bowser and Blue" who sang and talked about things political, age-related, and school. A great evening was had by all. George Bowser had gone to an English 'boys only' boarding school and Rickie Blue (real name Rick Elger) to Feller. Both lads had been born in England.
Sunday morning saw most of us at the Church for a very moving bi-lingual service. The Pastor, also a French Swiss person and the congregation, normally worshiped French only. For this occasion with people from elsewhere who didn't speak the language, everything was translated into English as the service progressed. The translator, a 1952 graduate who now lived in Seattle, Washington, USA, did the honours, practicing a language he hadn't spoken since his school days. Most of the songs were available in both languages too. The service was a very interesting experience for most of us.
Church was followed by a Special Lunch, held at a nearby Golf Course. We wanted to have the "Traditional Feller Sunday Lunch" - that of soup followed by roast beef, tinned peas, and potatoes and chocolate cake for dessert.Trestle Tables were set-up with 4 settings on each side and one at each end. During our 'school days', we sat this way with the person at the foot serving the milk and water, the person at the head of the table serving the meals, and 2 'runners' who fetched the food from the kitchen and returned the dirty dishes there. For this meal, it worked amazingly well. Everyone cooperated and the whole meal took just an hour to serve, eat, and clear. The restaurant staff were amazed.
Our final event at the reunion was a video presentation by Rick Elger. He called it "Feller Revisited" It was a collection of pictures of the school, students, staff, and activities. Also included were pictures of the school building burning. The presentation took about 15 minutes and there were no dry eyes 'in-the-house' by the end of it. After buying the usual souvenirs - Crests, Caps, Mugs, T-shirts, Video of 'Feller Revisited', we all said our good-byes many with hugs and tears; promised to write and keep-in--touch and stepped outside into the rain and ran or walked to our cars!
The Reunion was over, the reminiscing could begin. Everyone praised the the committee for organizing such a wonderful week-end! People left feeling felt like they were part of the 'Feller Family' even if they had never gone to the school.
For those interested, there is a School Reunion website at www3.sympatico.ca/relger where more information about the school, its' students, staff, and buildings can be found.
Peter (Backpack) Payan