Memory Lane: Happy days at school

Claremont School 1950
Claremont School 1950
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FROM Fisher Street to Pigeon Lake – that’s the colourful journey made by former Claremont Boys School pupil Matt Payne.

At his home in Alberta, Canada, Matt has been reminiscing over this 1950 class photograph, taken when he was 15 in the last year at his North Shore school.

He writes: “I am on the top row, third from right. The others have very familiar faces, but I am having difficulty remembering their names.

“The teacher was Mr Greenwood, and I remember we had a lot of fun during playground time, playing marbles, conkers, watching the girls over the fence and just being boys.

“I grew up in Fisher Street and some of my fondest memories are working the donkeys on the sands and spending time at Ronnie Clayton’s Gym.

“Some of my favourite pastimes were boxing and drama. I was a pretty good academic student too. There were a lot of rules and punishment was enforced if we broke them.

“If we didn’t behave it was usual to get hit with the cane or plimsolls.”

Matt went to Canada in 1951 to a farm in Saskatchewan, and admits: “This was a real shock to an English lad. After a couple of years there helping an uncle, I moved into town and worked in the automotive industry for 15 years. Until my retirement, I worked for the City of Edmonton for 23 years in the engineering department.

“Following my retirement, I joined my wife, Donna, in operating our retail store in Edmonton, Alberta.

“In 1995, we helped create the Village at Pigeon Lake with my brother-in-law, Terry Myers.

“Over the next few years, we opened three more retail stores at that location making the Village a wonderful attraction for tourists

“You can view the site at, and although we have now sold our stores, we remain involved in the Village as shareholders.

“We have a lovely acreage, where we enjoy our yard and spending time with family, grandchildren and friends.

“Please feel free to share my email address ( as I would welcome the possibility of hearing from other classmates.”

Matt also sent the picture to an old school chum Allan Birnie, with whom he was reunited after reading an earlier Memory Lane article online.

Like Matt, Allan – who is not on this photograph – made a new life for himself in Canada many years ago.

Allan recalls: “Pop Greenwood was a fair but no-nonsense teacher. He was a good piano player, and the rumour was he sometimes played in the local pub during the evenings.

“School dinners cost 4d (just under 2p) and Pop would line us all up, march us into the school hall, and sit us eight to a table.

“The drill was that after everyone had been served first course, we would sit with backs straight as a die with arms folded and the smartest table would be sent for seconds.

“All the food came from the School Board in aluminium containers, and no food was ever returned.”

*We would like to print your old school photographs in Memory Lane, so why not share these happiest days of your life by e-mailing them, with your memories, to