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This article was published 18/4/2012 (1895 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Unable to find a piece of its history, Kelvin High School has opted to recreate it instead.
One of two memorial books showcasing the names of all Kelvin students who had served in the army, navy or air force in the Second World War, disappeared from a display case in the late 1980s. The school offered a $500 reward last year for the return of the leather-bound, handprinted book -- which contained the names of graduates with last names from M to Z -- hoping it might be found in a former student's basement, but it never materialized.
The well-publicized search, however, prompted many of the school's alumni to get out their chequebooks to pay for a replica, which will be unveiled during Kelvin's 100th anniversary celebrations next month.
"The response was overwhelming and immediate," said Susan Bolton, public relations chairwoman for the school's three days of festivities, May 25-27. "Alumni didn't want it done in a digital fashion, they wanted the names written in calligraphy."
Kathie McIlvride, a professional artist and calligrapher, is replicating the hand-decorated book, which will cost more than $11,000,
The project is important because Winnipeg's second-oldest high school seemed to lose an inordinate number of graduates in the war, Bolton said.
Her mother, who went to Kelvin in the 1940s, used to get especially emotional on Remembrance Day, she said.
"She used to say, 'So many of my classmates are gone.' There was such an excitement because they were going to fight for democracy and defend England and Europe and then they never came home," she said.
John Perrin, a member of the school's class of 1968 who is helping to organize the book project, said it will be finished in time for the reunion. A dedication service will be held at noon on the Saturday, he said.
There is no ranking of which Canadian high school lost the greatest number of alumni to the war but Kelvin suffered at least its fair share, he said. It was enough to prompt infantry commander Cliff Chadderton to produce a movie titled The Boys of Kelvin High, after discovering 50 of his classmates were killed in Bomber Command, one of the war's most dangerous occupations.
Perrin said he received a very moving email in favour of reproducing the missing book from Bruce Pickersgill, whose uncle, Frank Pickersgill, a Kelvin graduate, was parachuted into France as a spy in 1943 but was ultimately captured, tortured and hanged by the Nazis.
He said that has prompted him to consider a followup project -- talking to families of soldiers, documenting their stories and leaving them as a legacy to the school.
Bolton said enough money was raised that organizers are considering producing a book to commemorate Kelvin students who served in the First World War, too.
Thousands of Kelvin alumni are expected to descend upon the Winnipeg Convention Centre when the centennial celebration gets underway. Graduates will also be able to tour the school, check out their old homerooms and lockers and see if the cafeteria's fries and gravy are still as delicious as they remember.
Principal Jim Brown is encouraging all alumni who are planning to attend the reunion to register with the school as soon as possible so events can be set up to handle the appropriate number of people.