Category Archives: Alumni

Crawford Gordon ’56, August 29, 1938 – March 3, 2017

Portrait by: John Viljoen

Today, the Ridley community mourns the loss of Crawford Gordon ’56, who passed away on March 3rd in Toronto, Ontario at the age of 78.

Crawford was amongst the most loyal and generous of Ridleians; a former Vice-President and Chairman of the Ridley Board of Governors (2000 to 2004), an active Board member, past parent and alumnus. Up until his death, Crawford held position as the Vice-Chairman of the Ridley College Foundation. He attended our school from 1947 to 1956, was a decorated athlete, member of the Glee Club, Science Club and Student Council, a Cadet Corps Platoon Sergeant, and served as a Prefect in his final year.

After graduating, Crawford became a respected businessman. He began his career at Wood Gundy in 1966, later joining Burns Fry (now BMO Nesbitt Burns). During his 29 years with the firm, he became one of their top brokers, a Vice-President and Director and a 10-year member of the Chairman’s Council. In 1997, he joined Gordon Private Client Corporation, which was acquired by HSBC. In 1999, he co-founded McFarlane Gordon Inc. now known as Industrial Alliance Securities Inc.

To Ridleians, Crawford will be remembered for his kind spirit, philanthropy and unwavering dedication to our school. Outside of his leadership roles with the Board, he and his wife Eve generously sponsor the MGI – Gordon Distinguished Speakers’ Series, an endowed fund that helps to bring notable speakers to campus each year.

Crawford will be dearly missed by a far-reaching community. Our heart-felt condolences go out to the Gordon family. Crawford is survived by his wife, Eve, and children, Crawford Jr. ’04, Chloé ’05 and Parris ’08.

A memorial service will be held for Crawford Gordon ’56 on May 6th, 2017 at 2:00p.m. in the Ridley College Memorial Chapel. A reception will follow.

TransfORming Our Globe – Margaret Coons ‘08

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe series, we’re sharing the story of alumna, Margaret Coons ‘08, who has developed a unique alternative to dairy cheese using cashew milk and is now selling her products throughout Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes.

Margaret began her Ridley career in 2006, as a Grade 11 student. Passionate about sports, she joined the harriers, rugby and swim team; enjoying the physical activity that was and is such a crucial part of a Ridley education. After graduating from Ridley in 2008, Margaret attended the University of Western Ontario and pursued a degree in English Language and Literature.

It was while she attended university that Margaret found a job that combined her love of cooking, vegetarianism, and acute business sense. She began work at a vegetarian restaurant in London, Ontario and quickly assumed the role of chef and restaurant manager.

“I had the opportunity to perform cooking demonstrations on the local television stations and at the annual ‘Veg Fest’… in London and over the years of working as a chef greatly enjoyed creating recipes and alternative versions of more conventionally available foods” – Margaret Coons ’08

The retirement of the restaurant owner and the imminent closing of the restaurant granted Margaret the opportunity to begin designs on owning and operating her own business. The result was Nuts For Cheese, a product-based food manufacturing company that makes artisan dairy free cheeses from cultured organic cashew milk. Margaret was making many of these cheeses for the restaurant and for her own enjoyment so, in May of 2015, she decided to open a farmers’ market booth in London to sell the five varieties of vegan cheese.

The demand for this cheesy alternative was high and Margaret soon found she was renting out kitchen space late at night to make cheese for the farmers’ market and the retail accounts she had accrued. From there, Margaret has grown her business to include its own manufacturing plant distributing to nearly 50 retail locations across the country. Margaret hopes to continue to grow Nuts For Cheese into a product that is available in specialty food shops across the country as well as show people just how delicious vegan cheeses can be.

Margaret says her time at Ridley taught her a lot about discipline and focus.

“The skills that running my own business requires are backed up by an ability to be dedicated to my work and passionate about what I put my time into.” – Margaret Coons ’08

Working with food and creating new recipes are Margaret’s favourite aspect of her career. Having been a vegetarian since age 12 and having always possessed a love of cooking, she feels this is the ideal career for her to channel those passions. Margaret also enjoys working as a business owner with her great team and connecting with the “supportive and inspiring” small business support network. Her love of great vegan alternatives continues to motivate her personally and professionally.

“Consumers of products like ours have for a long time been faced with the decision to purchase low quality alternatives, giving vegan food products a bad name, or to forgo consuming a certain type of food for a variety of ethical or health reasons. Making cheese products available to people who can’t or don’t eat dairy for whatever reason is very exciting for us.”                        – Margaret Coons ’08

Margaret’s advice to any young Ridleans about to explore their academic and/or professional careers is to throw yourself at whatever you’re doing without overthinking it too much. While she says her unique career in vegan cheese was “almost by accident”, the success she has enjoyed thus far was a result of passion and deliberate dedication to her project.


TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing.

Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to development@ridleycollege.com.

Richard B. Wright – 1937 – 2017

Ridley is saddened to share the news that former faculty member, Richard B. Wright passed away suddenly this morning, February 7th, 2017. He was 79 years of age.

Richard was a distinguished novelist, member of the Order of Canada, and won three major Canadian literary awards – The Giller Prize, the Trillium Book Award, and the Governor General’s Award – for his 14 novels and published memoir.

He was also an outstanding and beloved teacher of English at Ridley from 1976 to 1980 and again from 1986 to 2001. During his time at the School, and as holder of the first Cronyn Chair, Richard made a tremendous impact, established Voices (the literary journal) as well as the Literary Dinner. He will also be remembered for his enthusiasm in coaching league soccer.

Richard will be dearly missed by a far-reaching community of Ridleians. Details of a memorial service will be forthcoming.

Our heart-felt condolences go out to Richard’s family; his sons Christopher (Vicki) and Andrew ‘90 (Wendy), and grandchildren Gage, Millie, Sydney, Abbey and Nathan.

Listen to the 610 CKTB Interview with Wendy Darby.

TransfORming Our Globe – Nate Houghton ‘07

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe series, we’re sharing the story of Ridley and double Ivy League alumnus, Nate Houghton ‘07, who has dedicated his life to helping Congo youth live flourishing lives through his not-for-profit, the Congo Leadership Initiative.

Nate began his Ridley career in 2005 and although his Ridley career only spanned two years, there was no shortage of lessons taught, skills learned and qualities formed. Nate came to Ridley because of the hockey programme, but soon discovered that more opportunities awaited him within the gates. As a Prefect in his final year, Nate played in the Jazz Band and went to the 2007 World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships in South Africa with his fellow Ridleians.

Ridley left Nate feeling well prepared for university. He had refined his time-management skills, found an interest in social impact, was held to a higher standard by his peers and teachers and the Ridley schedule had set him up for success as he moved on to his post-secondary career.

“Ridley helped me to create good habits in order to get things done… I think that a lot of the tactical habit forming things came from the rigor of the schedule.” – Nate Houghton ‘07

Nate went on to study at Cornell, where he studied economics and policy. While there, he took a trip to Congo. He had always had an interest in post-colonial Africa, and he wanted to learn more about their culture and if he could make a positive impact on the community. His visit left a great impression on both him and the youth he encountered on his trip.

It was this trip that inspired Nate to begin the Congo Leadership Initiative (CLI). The CLI is an organization that trains Congo youth to become the leaders of tomorrow – not too unlike Ridley. Through workshops, training and grants, the CLI provides individuals with the tools needed to succeed.

“We develop the next generation of leaders to be catalysts for peace and prosperity in the Congo…If you can combine leadership values with entrepreneurial skills, you have the engine for development. It unlocks the potential that a country really has.” – Nate Houghton ‘07

CLI young leaders in a training session at our Kinshasa Lea CLI young leaders at the PEREX Leadership Institute site

For two years (2010 to 2012), Nate was dedicated to establishing a firm infrastructure for the CLI. With that, he felt confident that he could divide his time to explore his other passions. He worked in New York and studied at Harvard – where he is set to complete his MBA in September – and is currently working for the investment firm, NextGen Venture Partners. Despite his busy schedule, Nate still finds time to work and connect with CLI every day. He has recently been focusing his efforts on fundraising and operations. He hopes that the CLI will be able to extend their efforts and make a larger impact by partnering with other organizations who could then administer training to those in Congo.

Nate possesses the true spirit of a Ridleian and of our school motto – Terar Dum Prosim. He saw a community in need and has ever since dedicated his life to bettering their lives and showing them their potential. To other Ridleians who are unlocking their own potential, Nate has no shortage of advice.

“There is no reason that you can’t do these [kinds of] things. There is nothing that was different about me that made that possible. Anyone can start something…The best decisions I have made are the ones where I am thinking about what is best for other people. Whether it is within the organization or more broadly in the world. The worst decisions I have made are where I knowingly or unknowingly tried to make myself look a certain way… Just being yourself and doing things for other people is really the only thing that matters.” – Nate Houghton ‘07

For those interested in supporting the Congo Leadership Initiative, there are a number of ways to give.


TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing. 

Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to development@ridleycollege.com.

 

 

TransfORming Our Globe – Bethany Pile ‘12

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For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe series, we’re sharing the story of alumna, Bethany Pile ‘12, who has found her passion and is now establishing herself as an artist, first locally and then internationally.

Me in studio

Bethany began her Ridley career in 2010. She took full advantage of the many different opportunities the school had to offer. Bethany was a member of the swim team; traveling to the OFFSA championships twice. She was a school Prefect in her final year; displaying leadership and acting as a role model for the younger students. Embodying the school motto, Terar Dum Prosim, Bethany also traveled to Jamaica twice with the volunteer programme.

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During her first year at Ridley, Bethany was awarded the Barbados National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) Prime Minister’s scholarship for demonstrating “the greatest potential for training and development in [her] discipline”. This, in turn, paid for the first two years of her schooling at Trinity College at the University of Toronto, where she graduated with a degree in Visual Studies and minors in Psychology and Art History. During her summers, Bethany’s commissioned works were garnering attention in her home country of Barbados. As a result, Bethany moved back home and along with operating her own art practice, she began developing and producing murals for RC Designs & Decorations.

Bethany is often motivated when she sees her paintings come to life. With as much time as some of her pieces take, the thrill of finishing a piece makes it all worthwhile. Of course, listening to what others think and feel when presented with her art also keep Bethany motivated to continue her amazing works.

Tracing Time
‘Tracing Time’ by Bethany Pile
Treacherously Sweet
‘Treacherously Sweet’ by Bethany Pile

I enjoy creating paintings that elicit powerful responses from people. I either paint in my studio with my music, thinking about inspirations for my next piece, or I am working with Rosalie, painting murals – which is a lot more of a social experience. Especially when we were painting a public mural for Barbados’ Independence! Lots of people came and said hello or commented on our work every day. Both aspects of my work complement each other well. – Bethany Pile ’12

Bethany cites Mr. Duane Nickerson as “one of the best art teachers” she has ever had and is someone who made a positive impact on her career path. According to Bethany, she produced some of her best work in Mr. Nickerson’s AP Art class.

“He saw what I was capable of and pushed me, and encouraged me to do better.” – Bethany Pile ’12

It was her experiences at Ridley that helped Bethany come to the realization that art should and would become her ultimate pursuit professionally.

To those beginning their next academic or professional journey, Bethany has a simple message: do what you love. In addition to capitalizing on something you are passionate about, she also suggests enrolling in a diverse set of classes as you begin university – “there is the opportunity to dabble in many subjects that can either streamline or completely change your career choice”. For Bethany, this solidified her decision to study art and become an artist. While her parents worried at times that she may soon embody the “starving artist”, it is clear Bethany has made significant steps towards her goal of becoming an internationally acclaimed artist.


TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing. 

Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to development@ridleycollege.com.

 

Board Chair Named One of Canada’s Most Powerful Women

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Georgina Black ’85, Ridley’s Chair of the Board of Governors and Old Ridleian, was recently and unequivocally named one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women of 2016. Launched in 2003 by Women’s Executive Network, this award has been showcasing the accomplishments of professional women in Canada and has celebrated 939 inspiring individuals to date.

In light of this most recent achievement, we wanted to celebrate the profound impact Georgina has had on both Ridley and the globe, since her time on campus began in 1982.

“We are very proud and grateful to have Georgina as an active and engaged member of the Ridley family. As the first female Chair of the Board, parent and alumna, she is continually offering her leadership, guidance and support. Georgina is a shining example of what it means to be a Ridleian and we congratulate her on this incredible achievement.” – Headmaster, Ed Kidd

As a student at Ridley, Georgina excelled in academics, athletics and co-curricular activities. She engaged in new experiences and broadened her horizons at every opportunity. By the time Georgina had entered her graduating year, she had built friendships, learned the importance of gratitude and discovered what it takes to be a leader.

Georgina went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University and her Certified Management Consultant designation. She also graduated from the Institute of Corporate Directors. Currently, Georgina is a Partner and the National Industry Leader of Health and Life Sciences at KPMG. While her career has led her down a path of great success, she has not since forgotten about Ridley.

Nearly two decades after her own Prize Day ceremony, Georgina found herself once again immersed in orange and black, when she joined the Board of Governors in 2005. After nearly a decade serving on the Board of Governors, Georgina was named the 19th Board Chair in 2014; which was a historical year for Ridley, as our school celebrated 125 years and it saw its first female Board Chair in history. Now, halfway through her term in this notable role, it is clear that Georgina has already left her mark on Ridley in more ways than one.

Georgina Black ’85 was paramount in building of Ridley’s Strategic Plan, that focuses on enhancing the student experience, mobilizing Ridley’s mission and strengthening our community. Though the Strategic Plan was officially launched in 2014, Georgina’s efforts did not end there. She has since been an active member in our community, her own community and has taken action in communities abroad. A perfect example of her dedication to Ridley’s motto, Terar Dum Prosim, was her recent service trip to India in 2016, where she chaperoned a group of Ridleians and helped build a home for a family in need. After this experience, she expressed feeling not only gratitude, but also pride for having witnessed the leaders of the tomorrow, our students, making a difference in the world.

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“As an OR, parent and Chair of the Board, I was so proud of our students… Each one demonstrated grit, perseverance, kindness and a commitment to serving others with tons of Ridley spirit.” – Georgina Black ’85, March 2016

Outside of her duties as Chair of the Board, Georgina continually displays commitment to her alma mater, by frequently attending and hosting school events, judging student competitions, and acting as a Ridley ambassador at international receptions.

While her dedication remains steadfast, it is her drive, passion and success that will live on at Ridley, inspiring students for years to come. This recent recognition does not come as a surprise, but Georgina’s appointment as one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women of 2016 solidifies her embodiment of our school’s mission and vision, as she is truly living a flourishing and meaningful life, while transforming the world in which we live.

“I think it is important for the future female students of Ridley to be able to look up and see a woman’s portrait among the rest of the school leaders. There’s a first for everything, and the women who are the first to do something are brave and necessary role models for young girls everywhere.”                          – Hannah Bradley ‘17

We congratulate Georgina on her inspiring achievement. It is our hope that the Ridleians of today and tomorrow will follow in her footsteps, and face their challenges with the same determination, confidence and grace.

“Society needs more of this: women recognizing women for the amazing work that they do. Having one of Canada’s most powerful women to look up to in my community, in a world where women are not always respected the way they should be, is truly an honour. Congratulations Ms. Black!”                                 – Amelia Ritchie ‘17

 

TransfORming Our Globe – Ransom Hawley ‘04

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016_0539 - Version 2For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe series, we’re sharing the story of alumnus, Ransom Hawley ‘04, who forged
his own path to success with his app, Caddle, that allows users to earn money by engaging with the brands they use on a daily basis.

Ransom began Grade 7 at Ridley in 1998 and quickly involved himself in all of the facets of the school available to the student body. While here, he played football, basketball, and rugby. He credits Ridley with providing him with an excellent network with which he was able to establish himself professionally upon graduating. Additionally, Ransom’s strong work ethic was developed at Ridley, which he says helps tremendously with the long hours and determination his company employs on a daily basis.

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After graduating from Ridley, Ransom initially attended St. Francis Xavier University and studied marine biology. His love for scuba diving and interest in the subject matter led him to believe it would be a good fit. However, after enrolling in several business electives, he quickly realized there was another career path for him. He transferred to the University of Western Ontario and completed the Honors Business Administration program at the Ivey School of Business. Having completed his programme, Ransom began work at SC Johnson (SCJ) in their sales and marketing department.

He worked with several coupon apps while at SCJ and came up with the idea for Caddle when he began to wonder if these apps could incorporate more features – both for the consumer and for the company advertising. After seven years at SC Johnson, during which he had moved back to St. Catharines, Ransom gave himself a deadline. He had been developing his idea for Caddle for two years and while on a flight back from a business trip in April of 2015, a chance encounter with the co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak, finally tipped the scales. Ransom soon left his job at SC Johnson to pursue Caddle. Not only was Ransom spurred on by Wozniak’s advice, but he also motivated by several other factors, including potentially regretting not seizing this opportunity and ensuring a feeling of pride when looking back on what he’s done.

Caddle has essentially taken coupons and interactive advertising digital and put it at the fingertips of consumers. Caddle allows brands to capture more of the total dollar share they spend on marketing. Meant to fill an unproductive amount of time with a productive action, users can log in to the app and take a survey, watch an ad, leave a review, or simply provide a picture of a receipt – and earn money doing so. Caddle’s clients – among them, giants such as Pepsico and General Mills – are able to engage and educate customers while deriving instant consumer insights that gather real-time feedback; a valuable currency to any brand. Caddle earns money on processing fees, as well as by charging clients every time a user interacts with their specific brand. No half measures either; users have to complete the entire survey or watch the whole video to get their money.

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In addition to recently earning a Canadian Grocer Generation Next Award, Caddle was also on CBC’s popular entrepreneurial TV show Dragons’ Den. This appearance on a national television show provided significant exposure, spurred growth and initiated a spike in users of the app. Ultimately, the ‘Dragons’ thought it was an excellent idea, with Dan Warner, co-founder of a similar couponing platform ‘SnapSaves’, coming on board as a consultant for Caddle.

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Ransom would like to see Caddle become a platform that changes the way customers interact with brands. As an entrepreneur, he enjoys creating and operating something he can call his own. In addition to being a local company (Ransom still lives in St. Catharines) and partnering with many local businesses, Caddle also donates 10 percent of their pre-tax profit to Canadian charities.

Ransom’s advice to Ridleans considering an idea or thinking about taking the leap into entrepreneurship? “If you have an idea, take it to your local innovation hub. They will be an incredible resource and help determine if your idea is feasible.” Ransom used Innovate Niagara a great deal with looking for developers, applying for grants, and gathering constructive feedback regarding Caddle. Ransom reminds us that everyone has ideas and it doesn’t serve you well to just keep thinking about them – act on them. He encourages Ridleans to take calculated risks, “It’s only money. You will make more of it.” Finally, he says “make your future self proud of you.”


TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing. 

Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to development@ridleycollege.com.