Huntingdon Academy Tablet Erected
to Memory of Founders
is Unveiled
[May 24, 1928]


Town En Fete

Graduates from all Parts of Dominion Attend Ceremony


HUNTINGDON — MAY24 — (Star Special by Staff Correspondent) —

With students, townspeople and residents of all the municipalities of the County of Huntingdon attending, the 75th anniversary of the founding of Hungingdon Academy was celebrated today with the unveiling of a handsome tablet erected to the memory of the founders and placed on the wall of the old school house facing King Street and overlooking the picturesque park laid to the memory of Prince Arthur of Connaught, in 1879.

Graduates of the old school who are achieving international reputations for themselves came long distances to take part in the ceremonies; others wired in their regrets.

Dr. Robert Walker who came from Chicago, and Prof. Percy E. Corbett, one of the Academy’s most brilliant pupils, were present. Prof. Corbett, now Professor of Roman Law at McGill University, matriculated from Huntingdon to McGill with highest provincial honors, won a Rhodes scholarship while there and later spent two years at the League of nations headquarters at Geneva as legal adviser to Sir Herbert Ames.

Prominent graduates who wired their regrets at being unable to attend, but who desired to be there in spirit, were: Lord Atholstan, Chief Justice Brown of Saskatchewan, and Hon. J. A. Robb, Federal Minister of Finance.


            To David Shirriff, a son of the late Dr. Shirriff, a founder of the Academy, whose name comes first on the scroll, fell the honor of unveiling the tablet. Mr. Shirriff came from his home in Brandon, Man., to Huntingdon to perform the ceremony.

            Included in the devotional exercises were Psalm 127,1, “Except the Lord build the House they labor in vain that build. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” Then was read Ecclesiastes [sic] 44, verses 1 to 14, beginning, “Let us now praise famous men and our fathers that begat us.” It concludes “Their bodies are buried in peace, but their name liveth forevermore.”

            Preceding [sic] the unveiling of the tablet in the afternoon, a parade of the 500 pupils of the Academy and many scholars from the different municipal schools of the county was held.

            The unveiling ceremony took place in the school grounds. In the evening at O’Connor Hall, a concert was held pupils and graduates of the Academy contributing to the program followed by a ball given by the students and graduates and their friends. The whole town was “en fete,” with the principal thoroughfares flagged in tribute of the occasion and in commemoration of Empire Day.

            The pupils’ parade was a mass of color and aroused the keenest enthusiasm among the spectators who crowded the line of march. J.B. MacMillan principal of the Academy arranged and directed the parade. Mr. MacMillan has been connected with the Academy during one-third of the 75 years of its existence. He was a student there for eight years and has been on the teaching staff for the past 17 years, the last 10 of which he has been principal. 


             The parade was to start at 1 o’clock, and march through the principal streets of the town and arrive back at its starting point in time for the beginning of the unveiling ceremonies at 2 o’clock, weather permitting.

            The Union Jack, carried by Stanley Perry, was to lead the parade. He was to be followed by the Valleyfield band and behind the band the picturesque school banner bearing the school arms in the school colors of red and black on a background of white felt, above the arms were worked the figures 1852 to 1928, in commemoration of the school’s birthday, and below the arms was the school motto, “Meno sano in coporea sane” — a sound mind in a sound body — indicative of the school’s policy of encouraging the physical as well as the mental development of its pupils.

            Two high school students, C. Tedstone and Stanley Smaill, were flag bearers, while four of the little fellows acted as pages to carry the ropes. These were Billie Boyd Finlayson, Coon Ross, Buford Webber and Reggie Daniel. Clad in white with sashes of red and black over one shoulder the 100 girl students of the Academy were to parade each one wearing a skull cap with a pompom, also in red and black.


             The piece de resistance of the parade was a beautifully arranged float bearing the Queen and her 11 attendants.

            The body of the float was in white trimmed with red and black poppies, emblematic both of the school colors and of Empire Day. The Queen, Miss Viola Clark, and her attendants, were all dressed in white, each carrying a bouquet of poppies. Above the Queen and her attendants, was a dome, also in white and trimmed with poppies.

            The rear guard of the parade was composed of pupils of the other municipal schools of the county, including Hinchinbrooke, Godmanchester, Dundee, Stanstead, and others.

            Dr. R.N. Walsh, chairman of the school board, presided over the unveiling ceremony, which was opened with devotional exercises led by Rev. Hugh Cameron, B.A. of Ottawa. The fact was emphasized that all those taking part in the ceremonies were either graduates or students of the Academy. The speakers were: M.T. Robb, of Huntingdon, a brother of Hon. J.A. Robe; David Shirriff, of Brandon, Man., who unveiled the tablet; Prof. Corbett, who was a classmate of the present principal; Dr. Robert Walker, of Chicago; R. Watson Sellar, of Ottawa, secretary to Hon. J.A. Robb; Alexander Chalmers, who was present at the opening of the school and one of its first pupils; and Major Francis Whyte, another of the school’s oldest pupils. Mr. Chalmers indulged in reminiscences of the school’s early days.

            The evening function in the nature of a grand reunion is being held in O’Connor Hall, Dr. Walsh presiding. Contributing to the musical program [word missing] Mrs. N.W. Reese, vocal solo [word missing] Reese and Mrs. Fortune, vocal.




[This follows a missing paragraph]

 … able to attend the ceremony in person. So anxious had Mr. Robb been to be present, Mr. Seller said, that only yesterday afternoon the Prime Minister had personally requested Mr. Robb not to leave Ottawa in view of the pressing business on hand. Mr. Seller continued:

            “The Academy is now completing its 75th year and, as the average generation spends 10 years in school, we may presume that seven generations of school children have passed through its courses of studies and taken their places in the every-day life of the world. Some have wandered to other climes, but the greater number have remained close at home and it is the graduates of the Academy, with its problems and its progress, who have developed the institution to its present stage of efficiency.”

            “Perhaps those representing the older school generations find the greater pleasure in the celebrations of the day, for it offers a gathering place in familiar haunts. The intimate side of school life can never be satisfactorily recorded on paper. Those personal recollections must be lived over by those who participated in them and the ideal rendezvous [sic] in the old school ground.”

            “Those of us who belong to a recent school generation live, as yet, too close to our scholastic years to feel the thrill of chronicling past experiences, but perhaps we enjoy a preferential position in respect to the Academy’s future. We have the benefit of the guidance of those who are older; we have had some actual experience with the every-day world; we have learned to look up to our elders; we have the ambition of youth with its idealism tempered by practical experiences of the business world and are ready to help in the expansion of our Academy so that it may hold a proud place in the educational system of our province.”

            “There was a day when Huntingdon Academy ranked first in the province both in scholarship and in organization, but other places have grown in size and have outstripped us. Not because we have fallen back but because they have gone ahead more quickly. Tradition and public recognition of status make a school, and perhaps Lord Atholstan had our physical limitations in mind when he generously endowed the Academy with a $1,000 scholarship with the hope that we would be able to develop both the size and the mental talents of those classes leading up to the universities. The progress made in this respect has been excellent and will continue in the future, for ours is a good environment with good homes and children healthy both in body and mental outlook.”

            “At the same time, can we afford to forget that hundreds of children must come to the Academy for their education and that their schooling will cease when they leave its doors? Their interests cannot be sacrificed; their education must be practical and complete as far as is possible.”


             Some reminiscences of the early days of the school and the difficulties of raising sufficient funds for its establishment, prepared by Alexander Chalmers, were read by his daughter Mrs. F. T. Braithwaite.

            J. A. Cameron, M.P., introduced by Dr. Walsh as a grandson of the man who made the motion for the founding of the school, after eulogizing the founders, voiced his regrets that the name of Rev. Edmund Doyle, the parish priest of that day, had been omitted from the tablet. He felt that Father Doyle had been a worthy co-worker of the other founders.

            Rev. Mr. Shearer also spoke, and Rev. Hugh Cameron, of Ottawa, led in divine exercises.

            Inscribed on the tablet are the following names of founders of Huntingdon Academy:

Dr. F. W. Shirriff
R.B. Somerville
Col. Jas. Reid
Joshua Lewis
S.H. Schuyler
Archibald Henderson
Rev. A. Wallace
John Morrison
William Lamb
Alexander Anderson
Jas. Botham
W.H. Bowron
Rev. P.D. Muir
John Hunter
William Graham
William Marshall
Alex. Stevenson
James Davidson
John Whyte 

The Seigneur, Ladies
and others.  [sic]

 A list of prominent graduates compiled by some present at the ceremony follows:
 Lord Atholstan
Sir John Rose
Sir William Hingston
The late Chief Justice MacLaren
The late Chief Justice Davidson
Chief Justice Brown
Judge Delorimier
Hon. J.A. Robb
Prof. Percy Corbett
Dr. John Elder
Dr. Robert M. Walker
Rev. Walter Brown

Seated on the platform with Dr. Walsh, the chairman were:
David Shirriff,
Major Francis Whyte
Alex. Chalmers
Rev. M.N. Naughton
Rev. J.B. MacLean D.D.
Dr. Robert Walker
Prof. Percy Corbett
R. Watson Sellar
M.T. Robb
Mayor D.J. O’Connor
Miss Louisa Graham
Mrs. Cameron
Mrs. Thomas Kelly
Mrs. Robert Seller
Mrs. F.T. Braitwaite
Mrs. J.C. Boyd
Rev. Mr. Shearer
Rev. Hugh Cameron
J. Alexander Cameron, M.P.

Note: Selwyn Wesley MacDiarmid transcribed this 1928 commentary on the 75th anniversary of Huntingdon Academy, Quebec.

The original newspaper article was written May 24, 1928 and probably published in the Huntingdon Gleaner. My grandfather Delton Percival Shaw, wrote on the school photograph “I attended this Academy in 1919-20.” My grandfather’s original clipping does not contain the newspaper name and is missing a few paragraphs. January 12, 2001

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