A group of old friends from Miles Macdonell Collegiate is proving old friendships can last a lifetime.
Though they graduated their Grade 11 year 60 years ago, six of the seven women still meet regularly at the Nor Villa Hotel for lunch. The June 17 meeting had a special guest — Joyce Francis (nee Aherne) flew in from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (located about 45 minutes east of Los Angeles) to help mark the anniversary of their graduation.
Ina Drummond (nee Alexander) said while some stayed in contact with each other on personal levels, the group dissolved for decades before reforming.
"It was the usual thing, after we graduated and that, we lost contact," Drummond said. "We got back together about 12, 13 years ago, and have been together ever since."
Francis recalled the gang getting back together at the school’s 50th anniversary celebrations. When the old friends all went out for lunch, they realized it would be worthwhile to meet regularly and keep the friendship going.
Drummond said keeping in touch outside of the lunches, which take place about every five weeks, is often done over the phone or by letter.
Group members said with a giggle that grandchildren, health issues, and sharing news stories about other old friends in the community are common topics of conversation.
The wide range of topics helps the group heed its own advice for long-lasting friendships.
Members agreed that being able to avoid bickering is a cornerstone of a friendship that can sustain itself over several decades.
"We don’t really get a chance to argue," Francis said. "One of my fondest memories is whenever we’d walk to school, we always held hands."
Francis was sponsored by Trans World Airlines to come work as a Los Angeles-based flight attendant in the United States shortly after graduation, and left Winnipeg to train in Kansas City before moving out west. Though she was excited to leave Winnipeg at the time, she still visits regularly and was glad to return for the anniversary this time around.
"The year we had 114 inches of snow is when I decided to leave," she laughed. "But I’m still a Canadian. I have dual citizenship."
The group was part of Miles Macdonell’s second graduating class — and several remembered the school’s struggles to open because heavy winds damaged the roof of the building.