Diane McLaren

Profile Updated: January 26, 2011
Diane McLaren
Class Year: 1950
Residing In: Victoria, BC Canada
Occupation: retired teacher, poet, traveller, friend
Children: Shelagh, b.1956; Laura, b. 1957; Dylan, b. 1968 (adopted); five grandchildren, two great-grands.
Yes! Attending Reunion

Graduated at U.W.O. (Hons) English and French, 1954; married in 1955; began teaching high school 1960 in Toronto, later in Elgin Cty. Altogether I taught English,French and Library in Ontario for 10 yrs.
Rural life did not agree with me. My marriage (to Bob Campbell) ended and I went back to university to get an M.A. in French (1973), while teaching there (U.W.O.)until 1975. I studied for but did not complete my doctorate.
Because I am bilingual and also because university graduates of the day in my subject were all unlikely to find teaching positions there, my next opportunity was to be an executive assistant with C.I.D.A. in Ottawa on a one-year contract. Here I learned that civil servants are born, not made.
A few years teaching English and setting up a high school French programme in Alberta, followed. At that time, if one hadn't held on to a teaching job in the 60s', getting one again was impossible in Ontario. This is what lead to the Alta. adventures.
Ultimately I decided that the right place for me must be Africa! Off I went to Zambia for CUSO, starting with the national YWCA, and then taught in a boys' secondary school, again English and French. (Never got far away from my dear Robert Walton's influence, it seemed.)
On returning to Alberta in 1985, I entered the Comparative Literature Dept. at the University of Alberta to try for a Ph.D again, and taught French and English there for a few years while studying. When I was asked to teach Creative Writing at Western, I returned to London, teaching French there and also sessionally at Fanshawe College.
Eventually Africa called again; I went with VSO this time, to Egypt in 1973, to train English teachers at the Univ. of Minya, a beautiful place on the Nile. Within a short time, due to Islamist uprising there and the embassy's concern, I relocated to Cairo for a year. Fascinating jobs there in education until my contract was over.
Back to London in 1995, where again, teaching jobs were unobtainable, so I retired 'early'.
I moved a year later to Victoria. Here I have a nice garden, good friends, and have been very busy with the Unitarian church, and lots of other interests. I am usually away for several months in winter. The "wet" coast is just that, inclement for arthritics like myself. My usual winter home lately has been in Chiang Mai,Thailand. I also spent three winters in India, travelling around and as a volunteer at Child Haven in Ghandinagar. The next adventure awaits, but as you see, "Far away places with strange-sounding names" as the song has it, have always attracted me. My parents and siblings all have worked abroad too so it could be genetic!

School Story:

I loved to learn, and also to do well in my studies. Had no career goal for years, but took all the languages offered (French and Latin, and English),plus History, some maths, physics and chemistry, and graduating with high marks from those ultimate Departmentals. Robert Walton was for me "the Great One", though I doubt he played hockey. Before him Miss Park and Mrs. Willis, were the most influential Edith Cavell teachers, but important too were Mr. Trotter's lab as well as his prowess/coaching in badminton, and Mr. Mudry's Ancient and Medieval History course which lead to further studies (Russian History with Leonid Ignatiev and Canadian History with Hartley Thomas at UWO) I digress, as usual. The numerous scrapes we got into, are a joy to remember, and I must confess to having one cruelly amusing joke we played on a supply teacher. We supplied her with a class list, devised by me, with fake names like Prunella Mott and Lucinda McLean,etc. witht he correct seating plan. Of course it backfired as most of us Grade Tens coiuldn't remember to answer to "our" names.
I loved all the sports and played badminton most, winning team honours and a medallion for one field day, but didn't make the basketball team. In Grade 11 I decided, after having worked as a nurse's aide at East Windsor Hospital for the summer, to go back there on the night shift. It was hard to stay awake for the 12-hour shift and also through class next day, but I stuck it out until February. Mary Benson and I had gone on my day off to an opera in Detroit (she had moved back to the Detroit for high school) and shared coffee at a dubious cafe. My bad luck was to come down with trench mouth, at which Dr. Boyd learned of my horrifying schedule and put his foot down. He may have saved me from failing that year, and my health was much better.
I "fell in love" with Steve Smith the next year. It was a noisome joke on our street to see the red 1910-era restored Ford he drove me around in, which we called "Geronimo". My sister's beau had a similar one, but in modest black, with a rumble-seat. Steve was a graduate of another school -- he hadn't liked ours -- and was in the Essex Scottish reserves while working at Ford's.
One of the pleasures of RHS was the emphasis on theatre, or our amateur version of it, many scenes of which I still recall with pleasure. Ah, Youth! We lived a romantic version of life, partly influenced by literature, music, and by film to a lesser extent. With no internet, rare TV, a wall phone at home, our chief fun seems to have been outdoors. There were swimming in the Detroit River (or the YWCA in winter), tennis, board games, croquet, Hide 'n Seek,etc., such innocent past times that kept us busy all summer. It was a very safe town to grow up in, and we even went fairly often to Detroit to shop or see a show. Wintertimes were for study, part-time jobs (mine were baby-sitting, clerking Saturdays at Birks, or full-time at the nursing, as above), with occasional sports tournaments, dances, RUBC events. Idyllic perhaps, idealized certainly, but rich and memorable to me.

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Dec 15, 2020 at 9:35 AM

Posted on: Dec 14, 2020 at 11:53 PM

My dear Sally, no words say it. Brother John and Ken Caunce told me the pax vobiscum for dear Jack...ie. regrets fail us. I did have a Christmas card set aside this year. Loved ones leave when needs must.
Please visit at 78-1550 Arrow Rd. Or call. That's near UVic. Lots of love. Diane McLAREN.??

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