Eden Christian College

The days were great at
Eden Christian College

My time at Eden was probably the best years of my school life. I stayed at the dormitory from Sunday nights or Monday mornings until after class on Friday. One of my parents would then pick me up and I would return home for the weekend. The years were 1965 and 1966.

Although the primary function of school, of course, is to be taught, to study, and learn, I spent waaayyyy to much time ‘having fun.’ Yes, I did learn, but having fun became the main event. I’m sure the dorm parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wichart, had their hands full trying to keep my energies and humor in check. I’m sure I couldn’t take anything seriously (a trend yet today). Between the principal (another Mr. Wichart - the brother), and the teachers, I’m sure they had their patience tested by me more than once. Even my first room teacher made me write out two thousand plus times, “I must not be late. I must not be late. I must not be late.” You get the point.

That does remind me of a story though. It’s titled BE ON TIME

A priest was being honored at his retirement dinner after twenty-five years in the parish. A leading local politician, a member of the congregation, was chosen to make the presentation and give a little speech at the dinner. He was delayed, so the priest decided to say his own few words while they waited.

“I had my first impression of the parish from the very first confession I heard here. I thought I had been assigned to a terrible place. The very first person that entered my confessional told me he had stolen a television set and, when questioned by the police, was able to lie his way out of it. He also had stolen money from his parents, had embezzled from his employer, had an affair with his boss’s wife, had taken illegal drugs, and had even looted a house while the owners were away, and didn’t get caught. I was appalled. However, as the days went on I knew that my people were not all like that and I had, indeed, come to a fine parish full of good and loving people.”

Just as the priest was finished, the politician arrived full of apologies for being late. He immediately began to make the presentation and gave his talk.

“I’ll never forget the first day our parish priest arrived,” said the politician. “In fact, I had the honor of being the very first one to go to him in confession.”

The moral? Don’t ever be late. But back to my story.

You see, after all, I lived on the school premises. I just had to cross the football field to get to school. Somehow I always managed to be the last one into class. Again, I’m sure Miss (or maybe Mrs., I don’t remember) Dirkson had had enough of me by the end of two years.

I always would manage to come in through the classroom door just as the starting bell was ringing. I also had one of the first desks just inside the door so I could slide into it if I had to. I considered it ‘on time,’ she usually didn't.

Living at the school gave us lots of time to be rambunctious. I was a kid with oodles of energy. I just couldn't sit still, had to be moving all the time. I'm not sure how I even sat through class. (Am I still 'On Time'?)

In the spring we would finish class and go next door to a vineyard. They would pay us to tie the vines to the wires and we were able to earn a few dollars. It is interesting to note that I drove a tour bus to the wineries for six years, and still do on occasion for private tours and groups (Contact me, Harvey for your tour).

We would play in the school gymnasium after supper. We also had access to the outside for soccer or other activities. I had a roommate each of my two years there. The first year my roommate was a David Schmitt, who had come from Hong Kong. He was a couple of years younger than I, but in grade nine the same as I. The next year I had another roommate, Helmuth Penner. He was from Kitchener, Ontario. Interestingly, I ended up in Kitchener in 1969.

We did many things in and around the school. We also would (horror of all horrors) hitchhike into Niagara-on-the-Lake, or into Virgil after school. Then we could spend our vine tying cash. And we often hitchhiked back to school in the dark. It was never a problem. Nobody harmed us, or kidnapped us, or any of those things. Those were the days.

While I was at Eden I took up archery. No, it wasn't a course offered at the school. I just decided to take it up. I became quite good with a bow and arrow too. I could hit a target still or moving. I just used it for fun though. I sure wasn't a hunter. If I had to catch my food to eat, I'd be a whole lot slimmer.

Anyway, one day Helmuth and I were out and down the hill from the school with our bows. We were climbing trees and picking and making targets to hit. We were actually pretty good. Helmuth climbed this one tree and getting behind it said, "Bet you can't get me." Up came my bow and without half a thought (a problem sometimes with young people), I pulled back the string and let it go.

Lucky for Helmuth, lucky for me, I ‘missed’ him. I did, however, pin him to the tree. My arrow went right through his left foot just where it was around the trunk, the only part of him that was showing. The rest of him was behind the tree. Why do I say I ‘missed’ him? My arrow went through the top of his shoe, between his big and second toe, through the bottom of the shoe, and into the tree. He had to tug and pull to get it out. He climbed down the tree and we carried on as if nothing had happened. We were just 'kids' out having fun. He didn't even get mad at me. He said, "Good shot," and we carried on, but after all, I missed him.

At the end of one of the years there was a dinner held in the lower (basement) hall of the school. The locker rooms were also on this level. The boys locker room was on one side and the girls were on the other (yes, there was segregation). The plan was to have all the girls on their side and the boys on theirs. They would start filing out (the exit doors were side by side) and pair off as they came out.

My future wife also attended Eden Christian College (we did most things together) and was on her side, I was on mine. As instructed the groups started to file out. Guess what? I came out and was next to Patricia. No other 'couple' ended up together, just us. Everyone just couldn't figure out how that could happen. I told everyone it was 'magic.' I was doing magic at that time in my life as a magician, and it seemed to fit.

As an interesting side note, French was not taught here as the second language, German was. Does this mean, after two years of German, I can speak German? I don't think so. The other students used to laugh at me trying to get my tongue around some of the words, but again, it was all in fun. I passed the class by a squeak, but haven't used it since. When we have tour guests that are speaking German, however, it's surprising how much I can pick up, but answer them? It never happens.

There are many stories of getting into trouble, having too much fun, running around the halls and in and out of windows, swinging from ropes, breaking in after curfew, and generally being an active, overly energetic kid, but as I now am able to look back on those years, the fun was innocent, nothing was destructive, and there was respect for both faculty and other students. Yes, I will repeat, I probably spent my best school days at Eden Christian College.

The building that was my school on Hwy 55, Niagara Stone Road, in Niagara-on-the-Lake was demolished in 2011. It appears the property is turned into a seniors type residence. It is called Stone Road Village.

My days spent at Eden Christian College were fun, educitinle, and overall, great. It was 'suggested' to my parents, however, that I should seek my furthering educitin in another school (get it? educitin?). So I went back to Niagara Falls for school in 1967.

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