St. John's Cathedral Boys' School of Manitoba Unofficial Page

This page is dedicated to all the students who have ever attended St. John's Cathedral Boys' School of Manitoba in Selkirk, Manitoba. This includes two members of the Bedard family, Marc and Pierre. The first of three penultimate Canadian boarding schools founded in the early 1960s by Ted Byfield and Frank Wiens, St. John's of Selkirk operated until the early 1990s. A sister school was founded and operated in Ontario. Today, St. John's School of Alberta, located near Stony Plain, Alberta, thrives.

St. John's Canadian-Anglican foundation was built on canoeing and snowshoeing and was spiced with the English Public School system of corporal punishment. Students were expected to clean kennels, cook and serve food, produce back bacon, chicken, and pork sausage (and pepperoni!), perform janitorial duties, and/or raise malemutes and huskies. Everybody hit the streets of Winnipeg in winter with a basket of back bacon, frozen chicken, and frozen pork sausage. At -40 below (where Celsius equals Fahrenheit), there was never any waste due to thawing. But I digress...

Look up an old inmate, ugh I mean student...
Rod Coates, a real old boy from SJCBS created this mailing list. If you aren't on here, sign up!
Before there were canoes, there were cutters
In cooperation with Mike Martyn, an old, old boy from the original Manitoba weekend school, is taking you back to 1962. Mike was kind enough to send me some very interesting scans that I now make available for your viewing pleasure. He is the boy standing in the cutter. I choose to post these documents because 1) I have the bandwidth, and 2) they are historically very, very significant to the early development of the school and to the exposition of the St. John's philosophy.
School memoranda from 1962 (pdf)
Spring 1962 was a busy time for SJCBS. A cutter trip was being planned along with the first canoe trip. Father Turney, the chaplain, was preparing boys for confirmation. The weekend school was in its last throes - it was announced that the 1963 class was slated to be full time only, hopefully turning the school into "one of the country's great religious and educational centres." This is a must read.
1964 School Report (pdf)
The 48-page St. John's Cathedral Boys School - A Report, June 1964 is an enlightening exposition of the school's philosophy written over forty years ago. Its a good read and explains the philosophy behind the school. Clearly written by Ted Byfield.
Macleans Magazine Article 1961 (pdf)
Macleans magazine wrote about the weekend school in November 1961. Note that the article is not complete, but the cover shot is first class!
Father Turney, Anglican priest, school chaplain, pedestrian anarchist!! (pdf)
We all know the Father Turney Road that runs behind the school, but do you know Father Turney? The school's chaplain, he passed away in 1962. Read his obit. According to an old boy from that time period "he was a real character and he made the Winnipeg Free Press in several occasions. The picture I recall is of an elderly priest in a black cassock wailing away with his umbrella on the hood of some hapless motorist ... He believed that pedestrians should ever and always have the right of way over mere automobiles and woe betide any errant motorist that crossed his path. Red light or green light, crosswalk or middle of the street, it didn’t matter to Father Turney."
Student Newspapers from 1962 (pdf)
Read some of the early school newspapers! Filled with inside jokes and bad puns.
Important Letter from the Canadian Canoe Museum
The Canadian Canoe Museum has recently acquired a craft significant to the history of canoeing and canoe safety. The Pere Lallemant was one of four Chestnut Selkirk canoes involved in the 1978 St. John’s School tragedy on Lake Timiskaming, and was given initially to Andrew and Barbara Greaney by St. John’s School, who asked for it and received it after losing their son, David, in the tragedy. In May of this year, the Greaney family gave the Pere Lallemant to the Museum, on permanent loan, with the understanding that it will be conserved and used to help educate people about the tragedy in particular and canoe safety in general, particularly the changes in canoeing safety standards and school canoe tripping policies that occurred as a result of Timiskaming. Read more....
Still shots from The New Boy
In the fall 1973, 31 years ago almost to the week, the CBC produced a half-hour series chronicling the English River "new boy" trip. I was there! Look back at a St. John's tradition that goes on to this day in the form of the new boy hikes.
Remembering Nancy Cox
Nancy Cox was a class act! Everyone else who met her, loved her. I was grateful to see her at the reunion.
Pictures from the '70s
A couple of pictures of the Stone Building and me as a St. John's student taken in the '70s.
Welcome to St. John's (pdf)
Fascinating documents from my "welcome" packet from St. John's. Included are my acceptance, letter, fees due, the clothing list, and the rules.
SJCBS 1974 Yearbook (pdf)
Written and produced by the Grade 11's of that year, it gives you a feel for what life was like in one of Canada's classic boarding schools. Great stuff about canoeing, snowshoeing, selling meat products door to door and the overall St. John's curricula circa 1974. Though I was at the school in 1974, you won't find me in any pictures.
Men Wanted (pdf) - Teacher recruiting booklet
This is a very readable copy of a St. John's recruiting brochure. Note that the file is a 40MB pdf. I went to great care to make sure all of the photos are top quality. There's a few good shots in there of Mr. Felletti, Mr. Wiens and others. Extremely well-written, the brochure goes into detail about the day in life of a master and follows the hapless journey of "that horrid Jones boy" as he wends his way through his St. John's education. Be sure to zoom in on the text when viewing with a browser. Give it some time if you aren't on a high speed line.
God Can Bring Good Out of It (pdf) - Reader's Digest
I wasn't working with original pages so I attempted to collate scans of the Reader's Digest article so it can be downloaded, printed, and read. Tough reading online, since I converted jpg to pdf, but legible nonetheless. Relatively lightweight (750K) but requires the Acrobat Reader.
Frank Wiens Video Available
I purchased the Frank Wiens DVD and you should too! Click here for details. Overall, it was well done and I pretty much agreed with everything Frank said except the doom and gloom part towards the end. But you'll have to see it to experience it. The soundtrack is great, and everything is pretty much believable except for Martin Denny, who looks no older than when I last saw him and lies just as well now as he did 30 years ago! Anyway, kudos to the intrepid team of Mackay, Benson, and Ingimundson. Cheer up Benson, someday Manitoba will go Dryden Liberal.
Governor General's speech (pdf)
I love the parliamentary system of government in Canada. Even when you lose an election, you win. There is no better job in government than being the Leader of the Opposition - you can be as lippy as you want without the responsibility. The Honorable Ted Byfield, the erstwhile Governor General, addressed the St. John's parliament on January 7, 1962. We have obtained a copy of his speech and faithfully print it here.
St. John's kicks Soviet Ass! Read all about it! (pdf)
Wiens and Byfield first love was the cutter. Young boys, proxy galley slaves, plied the Red River and Lake Winnipeg in these archaic vessels before the pairs' discovery of the canoe and voyageur lore. Like so many bad passages from a Francis Parkman treatise, this 1961 mock newspaper and promotional piece has classic lines like "Youngsters Redrew Manitoba Map and Answered Mr. Khrushchev." Note that this was written years before the first Canada Cup.
Snowshoeing instructions (pdf)
Some snowshoeing instructions prior to the races.
All About Deep Waters by James Raffan
In this section, I've posted reviews and interesting links I've found throughout the net about the Lake Timiskaming tragedy. Every once in a while, something new turns up. If you ever attended St. John's, this book is a must read, whether you agree with Raffan, or not. As with most nonfiction, there is a fine line between opinion and fact. Some may agree with him, some not, but James Raffan, on the whole, gives a fair account of what happened on Lake Timiskaming in 1978.

Glen Treilhard's letter to the Globe and Mail re: Deep Waters Review by MT Kelly

Review of Deep Waters from Che-Mun, a Canadian canoeing magazine, by Michael Peake

Victoria, BC Online book review by Brendan Quarry, who attended St. John's of Ontario

Pierre's thoughts on Deep Waters

Other documents about St. John's
This section is a grab bag of interesting links and articles about all things St. John's.
History of the Old Stone Building
The old stone building, built in 1867, is a Provincial Heritage Site. Here's a great link detailing its history. The school site is now the Selkirk Healing Centre, a residential school now run by the Government. I don't think they snowshoe anymore :). One of the new teachers e-mailed me last year and was mildly amused at how we used to be.
Don't know this guy, but hopefully he's still doing time and his roommate's name is Bubba. A brief article about an ex-teacher from the Globe and Mail. Note: An update as of 1 January 2007. I won't post it here, but this guy got off with less than 2 years in slam. Not to hate on Canada - but some of your laws suck. This guy got less time than Ricky from the Trailer Park Boys!
Selkirk Canoe Study
The following report was first printed in CANEWS, newsletter of the Recreational Canoeing Association of British Columbia, in May 1979. It examines the "Selkirk" class Chestnut canoe.
St. John's of Ontario Yahoo Group
Justin Dube has started a Yahoo group for the St. John's of Ontario school. Odds are you know a lot of the members if you went to school in Manitoba, since many of the masters (teachers for you civilians) who staffed St. John's of Ontario did some time in Selkirk. Email if you are interested in participating in the group. Some of the postings are fascinating and there are lots of photos and things linked to this Yahoo group. You'll need to have a Yahoo account and the moderator's permission to join.
Pictures from the 2002 St. John's Reunion Banquet
Who says you can't drink through the night and still hold your hand steady to take pictures? Anything's possible with Photoshop!
Lawsuit City!
St. John's of Alberta sued after 27 years? I guess you can't please all the people all the time. And I thought it we had too many lawyers in California ...
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