Winston Godwin talks resiliency, going global—and how he’s making waves in his home of Bermuda
If you’re new to Ridley and find yourself poking around the stories of its various members, you’ll hear time and again how grateful Ridleians are to be part of a truly global community. Each year, international students from over 60 countries flock to the school to study, soon discovering a second family, forming lifelong connections and learning, not only from classrooms, but each other. The result? A broad worldview which helps inform each journey, lighting paths that take them far beyond the Marriott gates. For Winston Godwin ’08, his years spent on campus were some of the best of his life. “It’s certainly beautiful,” he smiles. “but it’s the people who make it special. When I go back to visit, it all comes rushing back.”
Winston grew up in Sandys, Bermuda, where he’s known widely not only for his work in the marine field, but as an important voice from Bermuda’s LGBTQ community. For years, the aquarist and his Canadian husband, Greg led the fight on same-sex marriage—a battle which still continues to this day. Winston’s clear articulation of the argument for equal rights, along with his perseverance and resilience, led to his being named Bermudian of the Year in 2017, and a Ridleian of Distinction the year that followed.
Born of hardworking parents, Winston’s father worked for years at the Bermuda Telephone Company, his mother a housekeeper at the Elbow Beach Hotel. “My dad always felt education was the biggest investment he could make for his children,” remembers the alumnus, who attended Saltus Grammar School before coming to Ridley. “He had always wanted us to go to Canada and believed sending us away to school would help broaden our horizons, our minds—ultimately the world.”
“My dad always felt education was the biggest investment he could make for his children. He had always wanted us to go to Canada and believed sending us away to school would help broaden our horizons, our minds—ultimately the world.”
After high school, Winston studied at the University of Guelph, graduating with degrees in Geography and Environmental Analysis and Geographic Information Systems. As someone who now works in the marine field, having joined researchers from around the world on The Turtle Project and clean-up crews on plastics research vessel, the Sea Dragon, he’s long been passionate about marine life, and has seen firsthand the human impact on our oceans. He now works as an aquarist, caring for animals at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo.
A British territory settled by the English in the early seventeenth-century, Bermuda is self-governing, a parliamentary dependency which sits under a constitutional monarchy. Its small population—around 70,000 people—lean toward conservative views. Shortly after the amendment of its Human Rights Act in 2009, which ruled it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation, Bermuda held a referendum to see where the public stood on same-sex marriage. Only 45 per cent voted, leaving the question officially unanswered, but of the voters, more than 60 per cent were opposed. “Bermuda’s LGBTQ community is only a small part of the population,” Winston explains. “And when you have the majority voting on the rights of the minority? It’s…problematic.”
Winston and Greg found themselves at the centre of an historic case when the newly engaged couple answered the call to challenge Bermudian law. At the time, living in Canada, they were largely out of the fray, far away from what was playing out in Bermuda’s courts. But when his post-graduate permit expired, Winston left his job at Toronto’s Ripley’s Aquarium and took a position back home. Suddenly, he was in the thick of politics, finding himself alternately challenged and supported, and moving awkwardly through the world on defence.
By May 2017, the court found with the couple, concluding that marriage is a right which all citizens are owed by law. The legal success was short-lived, however; Parliament put forth a bill (a challenge rooted in religion), which soon evolved into The Domestic Partnership Act. Though other LGBTQ couples had married by then—including Winston and Greg—the bill passed into law and, once more, same-sex marriage was illegal.
Since then, as other couples have come forward to appeal the decision and same-sex marriage has, again, been deemed legal by the Bermudian courts; the government has, again, stepped forward, taking its appeal all the way to Bermuda’s Supreme Court. After three separate cases, same-sex marriage is still legal, though Parliament continues to fight it. The final challenge, which will be heard December 2020 by the U.K.’s Privy Council, will be their final appeal, the fate of same-sex marriage in Bermuda decided once and for all.
Winston and Greg have now lived together in Bermuda for three years, Winston loving his work at the aquarium, Greg an occupational therapist at the mental health hospital nearby. Both miss the freedom they had in Canada, where it wasn’t such a challenge to simply be themselves, to simply be together. As Winston put it in an interview with The Royal Gazette, “My being gay: I have as much choice in that as I do being black. In being left- or right-handed. In being a woman or a man.”
“It’s all about being visible. Just showing who you are, speaking about what’s important to you, allowing others to see you. It shows people they can be themselves too—that’s a fight in itself.”
Change may be slow to come to the conservative islands of Bermuda, but it is coming. Like anywhere, the members of its LGBTQ community work hard to be recognized and accepted. Bermuda celebrated its first Pride this past August, hosting the largest parade the islands have ever seen. “We expected a couple of hundred people,” Winston reports, thrilled with the event’s success, “but 5,000 showed up. It was a celebration of everything that’s come before it.”
Winston, who was in his twenties when he first came out, losing the support of family and friends, found its other forms of strength where he least expected. Support can often come quietly, he’s learned over the years—a like on social media, a photo, an article shared by someone he didn’t know supports the same cause as he. “It’s all about being visible,” he imparts. “Just showing who you are, speaking about what’s important to you, allowing others to see you. It shows people they can be themselves too—that’s a fight in itself.”
Winston doesn’t know where life will take him, but he does know it’s getting easier. “It’s woefully optimistic to expect everyone to love you for who you are,” he admits. “And that’s ok too.” For the young couple, their lives together reaching out ahead of them, there’s still plenty of work to be done to ensure everyone’s rights are recognized—whether in the courts or on the streets. But for now, on the islands of Bermuda, they’re learning though the water’s surface may look still, there’s always movement underneath, and sometimes farther below that, common ground.
This article was printed in the latest issue of Tiger magazine. Learn about our alumni, get community updates and find out where Ridley is heading next! Read more from our summer issue.
“If there’s anything our school’s history has taught us, it’s that these are the moments when fresh, new ideas are born, moments when we, together, rise to the occasion.”
As the world faces one of the largest global crises on record, one can’t help but reflect on our school’s history. From the Springbank House fire in 1903, to world wars, economic turmoil, and more, Ridley has, quite literally, risen from the ashes through more than 130 years of unexpected plight. Though it may feel as though the COVID-19 pandemic has dented our amour, we know our school will once again prove its resilience and persevere in the face of this significant event.
We’ve flipped through our anthologies to illustrate the major crises and challenges Ridleians have overcome.*
Springbank House Fire (1903)
It was a cold October morning when students were roused from their sleep by shouts of “Fire!” The boys jostled each other to get outside, grabbing a random assortment of belongings in their haste, as the fire-bell rang in their ears. They stood under the street gaslight, answering, one by one, as Headmaster J.O. Miller called the roll—thankfully, all were accounted for. By the time the firemen arrived, it was clear the building would be completely destroyed; spurred on by the wind, the fire had raced along the attic before turning its attention to the main school building. The firemen concentrated their efforts on protecting the adjacent houses, and what belongings could be saved were piled on the street and in the headmaster’s backyard. The Upper School students watched, helpless, as Ridley collapsed before their eyes.
But those who knew Miller, knew that he would not give up on his beloved school. The loss of the Springbank building, though devastating, only spurred on in him a determination to build the school he’d wanted all along. Boys were temporarily rehoused, and within a month of the fire, everything was relatively normal in the academic programme and general activities; there was even a gym of sorts. Miller got to work finding and securing funds to build a brand-new Upper School and chapel on the same land as the Lower School—finally bringing the schools together on the Western Hill in 1905.
“Those who knew Miller, knew that he would not give up on his beloved school. The loss of the Springbank building, though devastating, only spurred on in him a determination to build the school he’d wanted all along.”
The First World War (1914-1918)
When the Great War broke out, Old Ridleians immediately enlisted in military services, and the school was filled with the spirit of patriotism. But what started out as a feeling of adventure—the sound of marching infantry, bands playing martial music in the streets, and students filled with the rightness of the cause—by 1916 became grim, the realities of war all too real.
The Acta Ridleianas of the era published obituaries of Ridley’s dead, their names and photographs raised on panels along Chapel walls. Tributes also went up celebrating those who were decorated for valour and leadership. Students donated pocket money to social appeals, war relief funds, and hospital wards; and the boys held a minstrel show to raise money for the cause.
They were told it was their duty to perform well at school, and the students took it to heart. They found solace in music; the Glee Club was restored, concerts held, and the gymnasium was, on occasion, converted into a motion-picture theatre, where it would be filled with laughter at the slapstick comedy of film stars like Charlie Chaplin. On the ice, the hockey team was filled with a formidable fierceness, finishing the season with 16 victories.
“By the end of the war, the school had won a high place in public regard, and the mood on campus was one of confidence—that of a firmly established institution ready to grow and expand.”
Canada lost 61,000 lives in that war, more than half of Ridley’s 800 graduates were in active service, and of them, 61 died. The Old Boys proposed a chapel in honour of the Ridleians who had lost their lives and raised nearly $50,000 by the spring of 1919. By the end of the war, the school had won a high place in public regard, and the mood on campus was one of confidence—that of a firmly established institution ready to grow and expand. Canada’s attitudes toward school and higher education grew with it; the number of applications for admittance to Ridley rose.
Recession (1922) in the midst of Spanish Flu Pandemic (1918-20) & Encephalitis Lethargica Pandemic (1915-26)
The war years, and those that followed, were plagued by worries for health, as the Encephalitis Lethargica pandemic—a curious brain-attacking disease which left its victims still as statues, in a zombie-like state, or dead—raged worldwide.
During those same years, the Spanish Flu pandemic swept the globe, killing millions. In an effort to prepare for what they worried would soon come to campus, Ridley’s governors approached architectural firm, Sproatt & Rolph to plan an isolation hospital. Construction began behind Dean’s House that September, and the new hospital was dubbed “The Pest House” by its first patients.
By October, as many as 60 boys had fallen ill. The most serious cases were reserved for The Pest House, the dorms converted to hospital bays for the overflow. Football season was disrupted, and a 10-day holiday decreed in late October to help reduce human contact. Though Ridley lost one member of its faculty and one nurse, no student died during the pandemic—a testimony to the skill and care of its medical staff. The Pest House continued to serve as an isolation hospital until the Schmon Hospital opened in 1947. With increased enrollment in the decades that followed, The Pest House was converted into a residence and renamed Governors House.
The Great Depression (1928-1932)
By 1931, as Canada’s industrial and trade situation became more desperate, it was soon evident that Ridley could face a serious crisis. By fall 1932, enrollment had plummeted, and many questioned the wisdom in building the new dormitory (which would become Merritt House). Old Boys attending the annual meeting that December were worried about the cost of the forthcoming build. Though they acted confident, Ridley’s principal and governors knew the only way they could justify the spend was to find new boys to fill its dormitories.
“We can only assume that a number of Ridley families made great sacrifices to keep their sons at the school.”
Old Boys were challenged to get to work as recruiters, and by the next fall, all heaved a sigh of relief when 27 new students started at Ridley. On campus, students became increasingly interested in current events, absorbed by questions of government, capitalism, and the various ‘isms of communism, pacifism, and fascism being debated around the world. Nevertheless, school spirit remained strong and, as early as 1933, enrollment began rising again.
Only one or two boys were withdrawn for economic reasons during the Depression, indicating that Canadians considered education important enough to be one of the last expenses to be eliminated. We can only assume that a number of Ridley families made great sacrifices to keep their sons at the school.
The Second World War(1939-45)
Still raw from the toll of The Great War, by the time the Second World War broke out, the hundreds of Old Ridleians who reported for active service did so with eyes wide open. Gone were the adventurous spirits of 1914; these men knew what it meant to be at war. Graduates of 1940 left the Prize Day presentation table went straight to the fighting forces. Many seniors didn’t even stay to graduate.
For Ridley, the war threatened to be an enormous burden; the school lost staff and students, had difficulty getting supplies, and there were problems of families divided. The mood amongst students was one of defiance, peppered by the occasional fierce display.
“During the span of the war, the administration recognized the great advances being made in industrial technology, and of the worldwide move toward science. Ridley got on board, creating the strongest physics and science staff they could assemble in order to adapt to the impending age.”
Though it was hard to concentrate—for both students and teachers alike—academic rigour was still upheld, and the boys were active in debate, public speaking, music, drama, and athletics. The new Iggulden Gymnasium revolutionized the school, the perfect site for performances and plays, and the state-of-the-art space made way for activities and sports beyond the traditional trio of football, hockey and cricket.
At the end of the war in 1945, a gesture to commemorate the dead, similar to the Memorial Chapel, was desired by all, and the Memorial Hall was planned. During the span of the war, the administration recognized the great advances being made in industrial technology, and of the worldwide move toward science. Ridley got on board, creating the strongest physics and science staff they could assemble in order to adapt to the impending age.
Recession (1950) and the Korean War (1950-53)
People had not yet recovered from the Second World War, when the Korean War broke out, and active service loomed yet again for Ridley’s seniors. The Cadets received new attention, now looked upon to train Canada’s soldiers of the future. A lavish provision of supplies filled the gymnasium’s armory with guns, rifles, drums, bugles, and signal radio equipment; the Cadet Bugle Band was upgraded with new artillery trumpets, cymbals and bell lyres. School time was spent on military training, able-bodied young men prepared to enlist for Korea or any other areas of conflict.
The numbers of Ridleians who were serving were troubling: 14 Old Boys were in the Canadian Army; five in the Royal Canadian Air Force; seven in Korea serving with the U.S. Air Force; 12 in the Royal Canadian Navy; three in the Royal Navy; and eight serving in the U.S. Navy. Though the school’s atmosphere didn’t have the same tension that was present during the major wars before it, there was a deep anxiety about what the future would hold and where communist aggression could go. Student enrollment numbers declined as the recession tightened wallets around the country but recovered in step with the war’s ending in 1953.
A Decade of Transition: The Hong Kong Flu and the 1970s
By the time the devastating Hong Kong Flu finished in 1969, it had killed over one million people worldwide, and helped kick a recession into high gear. Like many boarding schools, Ridley saw a staggering 14 per cent drop in enrollment, brought about not only by financial woes, but by major changes the country was facing at the turn of the decade: the dismantling of the conventional family; drugs; student resistance; egalitarianism; a diversifying society, and the start of the computer revolution.
“The question of the day was on everyone’s mind: how could Ridley preserve its 80-year heritage while adapting to these new realities?“
Parents were complaining, faculty and students expressed dissatisfaction, Ridley’s policies and systems seemingly out of date. The school was caught between its conservative traditions and a society which had increasingly progressive aspirations. The question of the day was on everyone’s mind: how could Ridley preserve its 80-year heritage while adapting to these new realities?
Its answer lay with a new, young headmaster, Richard Alan Bradley, fresh from the U.K., with experience leading schools that had been through similar changes. Buoyed by a willing faculty, a loyal and dedicated group of senior Prefects, and a $5 million financial campaign, over the 1970s, Bradley made changes which would pay off in the decades to come.
Aware it could no longer solely depend on expanding its boarding population, Ridley welcomed day boys to the Upper School in 1972. By the early ‘70s, Ridley went co-ed—arguably the single most radical change in Ridley’s history. Bradley’s argument was not solely based on numbers; he saw it as a logical step in a world where equal opportunities between sexes were becoming a fact of life. The first girls attended the school in 1973; by 1978, 26 female boarders were welcomed to the school, along with 18 day girls. Ridley’s numbers were rising.
Post-Gulf War Economic Slowdown Leads to Recession: The Early 1990s
There was a general restlessness that occurred in the 1990s, brought in part by the economic recession. Parents were dissatisfied, students impatient. Many areas of the school were showing signs of wear, resources limited, and renovations were slower than some would have liked. Financial aid was stretched thin and, as the demand for information technology increased, concerns about what it might mean for the school increased with it. Co-ed programmes had been launched at Lakefield, Trinity and Appleby Colleges, and Ridley’s administration was uncertain what the competition would mean for its future.
“The Planning Committee assessed all aspects of Ridley life, revisited the school’s mission statement and vision, addressed school spirit, and created a blueprint that would move the school into the 21st century.
For students, things were becoming stricter. A dress coded was enforced and rules were tightening in response to a feeling amongst faculty that the honour system was being disregarded. Spirits declined as many students chafed at the new rules; seniors felt they were losing status and privilege, and everywhere on campus people seemed to complain—whether about lagging technology, long construction projects, a disappearing Old Boys system, or something else entirely.
Students needed to feel heard and Ridley needed an ongoing, focused plan—a review cycle which would examine the school’s nooks and crannies, and take into account changing environments, new technologies, competition, and new demands. The Planning Committee ensured a wide range of Ridleians were involved in the process. They assessed all aspects of Ridley life, revisited the school’s mission statement and vision, addressed school spirit and the perceived lack of student enfranchisement in Ridley’s affairs, and created a blueprint that would move the school into the 21st century.
Changes were soon made. Seniors were given more control, more time was spent on arts and activities, Chapel service was moved to a more-convenient Friday slot, academic programmes reviewed, and changes made to student schedules. And, as the calendar pages flipped toward the late 1990s, Ridley recovered its numbers. By 1998, the school population—along with its spirit—had bounced back.
Now, another moment in time, a moment when our world feels a little off kilter, our community just a little bit raw. But if there’s anything our school’s history has taught us, it’s that these are the moments when fresh, new ideas are born, moments when we, together, rise to the occasion. Each time we’ve been shaken, we’ve stood firmer, only inspired by another opportunity to grow.
We’re wishing a fond farewell to one of our most valued colleagues, Director of Development, Susan Hazell, who will be retiring from Ridley this summer. Susan first came to our school in 1979 to teach French and Spanish; returned in 1984 as a teacher and swimming coach, becoming the official Housemaster of Arthur Bishop East the following year; and, in later years, made an enormous impact as Ridley’s Director of Development. For decades, Susan has been an integral part of our community, and we couldn’t be more grateful for her experience, leadership, vivacity, and warmth.
We asked Susan’s close friend and former colleague, Vera Wilcox—another long-time member of our community—to reflect on Susan’s career in Canada’s independent school system—and to give us a peek into what’s next. But if you’ve met Susan, you’ll know that wherever this next stretch of the journey takes her, it’s almost certain she’ll be smiling.
Sue and I first crossed paths in January 1980 when, at the suggestion of her tennis-playing fiancé Mike Hazell ’73, she came to take lessons at White Oaks Tennis and Racquet Club, where I was the tennis pro. I had met Mike a few years earlier, when my husband and I played tennis with him in Stratford.
“My first impressions include how Sue’s smile lit up her entire face, making me feel great just being around her; her eagerness to try something new—and how hard she worked to learn the skills; and her strong determination to excel.”
My first impressions from those lessons include how Sue’s smile lit up her entire face, making me feel great just being around her; her eagerness to try something new—and how hard she worked to learn the skills; and her strong determination to excel. I soon realized these were not just impressions, but Sue’s inherent essence, the enthusiasm which she brought to everyone and everything in her life. In 1984, Mike was hired to run Sports Ridley, and the couple returned as teachers and housemasters of Arthur Bishop East. The move rekindled what came to be a lifelong friendship and, for me, started a period of mentorship, as we worked together in independent schools for more than 35 years.
“Teacher, coach, housemaster, parent, administrator, mentor, friend – through her warmth, enthusiasm and her strong sense of doing what is right, Susan Hazell’s contribution, not only to Ridley but to independent schools across Canada, is immeasurable.”
— Trish Loat
As Sue moved through her career—at Ridley, The Bishop Strachan School, and later at Lakefield College School—she held a variety of leadership roles, ranging from Head of Residence, to Dean of Students, to Assistant Head of School Life—always dealing with staff, students and their families. In each role, she brought with her a curiosity and love of learning (Sue is a voracious reader and researcher), sincere listening skills, and a passion for helping others to improve and get the most out of their experience in their environment.
Sue provided opportunities for people to voice their ideas, concerns and dreams, and she would always listen intently. She made them feel validated when she integrated this information into a vision, presented the group with a plan to evaluate, and then looked to each member for ownership—not only during the plan’s implementation, but its success. A consummate team player and leader, Sue always stood in front of, beside, and behind her team, whether it was made up of students, families or staff. Her passion for teaching continued with her involvement in the Independent School Management (ISM) Summer Institute, where she worked as a workshop leader alongside Ellie Griffin, presenting sessions such as “Balance Your Contrasting Roles as Dean of Students” and “Power and Influence: Women and Leadership”.
“Thinking about my relationship over many, many years with Susan, reaching back to when I was a student at Ridley, babysitting the boys, housesitting the pets, working for her at Bishop Strachan School, working in the Hazell family business, connecting with Susan in a variety of professional roles, and recently in her capacity as head of Development, simply brings a smile to my face.
Every experience has felt like its own little adventure full of friendship, optimism, energy, laughter and purpose. Susan lifts up everyone and everything she touches with humility and heart. I am one of many women who have benefitted from her mentorship and friendship over the years.”
— Georgina H. Black ’85
Sue’s role changed in the early 2000s, when she became the Executive Director of CAIS, working with heads of schools from across Canada. Three years later, her career took another turn when she was invited to become the first Executive Director of Advancement at Collingwood School in Vancouver. Both moves were built on a solid foundation of knowledge and deep understanding of the independent school system—along with her valuable hands-on experience working with staff, students, families, and alumni. And, along the way, Sue took courses in fundraising and strategic planning, earning her IAP-S and CFRE certifications. Because she was such an effective and inspirational teacher, Sue continued to teach at ISM—now as a member of the Advancement Academy, where she worked with mentees developing action plans for capital campaigns and strategic planning.
“For over forty years, Susan has devoted her professional life to advancing independent schools, especially Ridley. I’m personally grateful for her guidance and the ways she has bolstered our school’s fundraising over the past six years. Susan’s ties to our community run deep and her daily presence on campus will be missed. I have no doubt she will remain connected to the RCA as she enters into a much-deserved retirement.”
— Ed Kidd, Headmaster
This period led Sue full circle back to Ridley College in 2014, when she became the school’s Director of Development. During her time at Ridley, Sue has not only worked in Development, but has shared decades of experience in helping to develop a number of the school’s areas, such as residential life, student leadership and more.
Not one to sit still, in addition to tennis, walking, hiking, biking, spinning, and golf, Sue has now added curling and rowing to her ever-growing list of activities. With her retirement, not only will Sue now have plenty of time for these active pursuits, but she’s looking forward to spending time with family and her boys; connecting with friends near and far; planting, working and harvesting her garden; travelling; and any other new adventures that come her way. Sadly, Ridley’s loss is everyone else’s gain!
I’m sure I speak for many when I say, thank you, Sue, for sharing your passion, your wisdom, your joy in mentoring others, and your life’s journey with all of us.
— Vera Wilcox
This article was printed in the latest issue of Tiger magazine. Learn about our alumni, get community updates and find out where Ridley is heading next! Read more from our summer issue.
How Ridleians Are Embodying Our Motto During COVID-19
During these uncertain and challenging times, it can be hard to find the points of light, those moments when the sun spills in through the cracks. However, since the onset of this global pandemic, we’ve heard countless light-filled stories of our own alumni working on the frontlines fighting COVID-19. Their contributions are sure to fill you with pride and hope.
Check back in for updates as we bring you the stories from alumni who are working to make our world a better place, at a time when things may seem a bit dark.
As the pandemic threatens the health of people all over the world, our frontline workers are responding with care and working on a solution.
Sir John Bell ’71, one of the U.K.’s leading immunologists and life science champions, has been named to Britain’s COVID-19 vaccine task force. The Canadian-born Oxford professor and physician has been making headlines for his leadership in improving testing practices and for his cutting-edge immunization research. Knighted in 2008, Bell also continues to be a key parliamentary advisor.
New York State has been hit particularly hard during this pandemic and its healthcare workers are working around the clock to care for their patients. One of those workers is Joshua Miller ’04, an E.R. nurse at Kenmore Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, NY — the embodiment of our school motto, Terar Dum Prosim.
Local alumna, Ellen Stevens (Went) ’07 is stepping up to support our community. The Public Health Nurse is serving the Niagara Region as part of its COVID-19 response team. Prior to government recommendations that healthcare providers should only work at one facility during the pandemic, Ellen spent her days off working at the local hospital NICU.
Sisters NurNisa (Nuri) ’21 and MehrNisa (Mehri) ’25 couldn’t be prouder of their father, Dr. Mamoon Bokhari who’s working bravely on the frontlines in both Canada and the US.
A warm thank you on behalf of our community goes out to anesthesiologist, Jordan Meyers ’12. Jordan is busy caring for patients in the Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Room at Vancouver’s St. Paul Hospital.
Food banks, health care workers and underserved communities are needing help more than ever, and our savvy alumni are stepping up in generous—and ingenious—ways.
When Christopher Edwards ’87, along with co-owners of their newly expanded Dallas clothing company, was forced to lay off workers, he knew they had the means to help. The trio soon re-tooled the manufacturing side of their 13,000 square-foot store and got to work producing face masks. What started as one or two soon turned to 100 face masks a day. “We still can’t keep up with the demand,” he reports.
Clean Works co-founder Paul Moyer ’84 is using a machine built to safely and effectively sanitize fruits and vegetables to sanitize the personal protective equipment (PPE) worn by health-care workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. The company’s Clean Flow machine can sanitize as many as 1,200 masks—including N95—an hour, destroying up to 99.99 per cent of pathogens on surfaces. Learn more.
The Giffin family, which includes Alison ’98 and Doug ’07, are working hard to support the COVID-19 effort. Their solutions-based business has teamed up with the Ford Motor Company to help convert Ford’s Michigan-based components plant, so that its employees can safely work to produce 7,200 ventilators per week. Doug has proudly joined his father, CEO and Founder, Don Giffin in the family business. Learn more.
Rally and Rise
It’s easy to feel helpless during times such as these, but these motivated alumni are raising funds and finding ways to ensure communities have the resources they need.
Megalomaniac winery owners, John Howard and daughter, Erin Mitchell ’90 are helping us raise a glass to our brave frontline workers. Proceeds from their new wine, Much Obliged will be going to Food Banks Canada—but they aren’t stopping there. The Beamsville-based duo will soon be out delivering 720 bottles of their best to workers at hospitals and care facilities across Ontario. Learn more.
Kelsey Peters ’10 has written and illustrated a children’s book, Where Has the World Gone? to help explain the pandemic to little ones. All proceeds raised through Amazon sales will be donated to charitable organizations requiring an extra boost during COVID-19.
A conversation on dwindling PPE compelled community member Ryan Dorland, (son of Scott ’73), to get involved. Ryan set up a Go Fund Me page to help purchase 3D printers which can, in turn, produce the bands used to hold the plastic shields for protective masks in place. He’s raised more than $5,000 so far, has donated hundreds to Toronto East General and Milton Hospital, and currently has eight machines running. Future funding will go to pay for the plastic rolls the machines require. Learn more.
With her new album recently released, singer-songwriter, Jane Lewis shares how she found her voice—and is helping others find their own.
The chapel light travels
warmly along the pews, coming to rest on the rich curves of the piano. A woman
sits at its keys. She’s slight, fair, her face framed by a riot of silver
curls. Her eyes are closed, fingers moving deftly along the instrument as she
sings, softly at first, then with increasing emotion: “Here we are at the end,
here we are, no regrets, just gotta take that one last step off the edge.” Above
her, the stained-glass beckons, a reminder of things beyond the chapel space.
The singer in the video is
Jane Lewis ’90, and the song, Carry You Home, is dedicated to her late father, Paul, a teacher, coach and historian
whose name many Ridleians will recognize. For the daughter of two long-time faculty
members—her mother, Janet was the first housemaster of Dean’s house the year
girls started boarding and eventual Assistant Head of Upper School—it was the
perfect place to be. “I started writing it when he was sick, and we knew his
time was limited,” Jane responds, when asked about the song. “It was really
special to be able to film it in the chapel.”
The girl who once wrote
poetry and was one of Ridley’s first environmental activists is now a musician
based in Guelph, Ontario. Her passionate vocals and piano accompaniment have been
compared to legendary singer Carole King, her songs described as “intelligent,
poetic and cinematic.” (You’ll want to get to know her playful Beatles cover of
Together—it won the Independent
Music Award for Best Cover Song in 2015.)
“It might not be the way you initially imagined, but if you have a passion for something, if it’s authentic to you, you’ll find a way to manifest it.”
Speaking to her, it’s easy to see why. She’s thoughtful, reflective, empathetic—and if you read through the yearbooks, you’ll see that early writer’s voice slowly take shape; listen to her lyrics now and you’ll still find those echoes. It’s unsurprising that she finds inspiration in confessional songwriters like James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, and perhaps even less so when she says she’ll often choose silence, as it gives space for the ideas to come. When she’s not busy writing, singing solo, or teaching vocals in the popular workshops she runs, Jane is half of award-winning folk duo Gathering Sparks. Their compelling new album, All That’s Real was just released this fall.
For Jane, the road to music
was a winding one. A philosophy major in university, she was already working in
publishing when the opportunities to perform started popping up. And, by 2009, Jane
found herself wandering a different, surprisingly natural path—“a decision that
came out of what was already happening,” she eloquently puts it.
As someone who herself was at
first shy to perform, Jane kept hearing from people who wished they could sing.
She soon realized she could fill a need. “If you don’t go to church or aren’t a
musician yourself, if you don’t have a family that sits around the piano, then
where’s your outlet for singing?” she asks.
Jane founded All Together Now, a singing workshop
series in Guelph. There’s no pressure to attend, no public performance; it’s
simply about being in the moment, about embodying music. “It can be a powerful
thing to get in touch with your voice, or the reason you’ve felt blocked,” she
says. “But to share your authentic voice as a human being can be an act of
courage. That really motivated me.” For some, these workshops have become a place
where they learn to use that voice; for others, it’s a place to stop in and just
let it all out. “I’ve had people say this is better than therapy,” she laughs.
Jane is also co-founder of
the Women’s Music Weekend, an annual retreat where women of all musical
abilities can perform in a supportive, inclusive community. There are powerful moments
at these events, moments where a woman gains confidence, where she feels brave
enough to step out front and sing on her own.
“It can be a powerful thing to get in touch with your voice, or the reason you’ve felt blocked. But to share your authentic voice as a human being can be an act of courage.”
The Women’s Music Weekend also
has a bursary
programme, now in its third season, where women can apply for financial aid.
Having herself received assistance for a workshop she’d once found challenging
to attend, the musician quickly saw an opportunity to pay it forward. “That definitely
ties back to my time at Ridley,” she recognizes. “The motto, ‘may I be consumed
in service’—that’s important.”
Ridley feels those ties
pulling right back. Last year, Gathering Sparks performed as part of an
artistic lineup at the Toronto Branch Reception at the AGO. “It was a
celebration of the arts,” remembers Jane, “and felt like a recognition that
this is an important career path a lot of people are taking.”
When asked what advice she
has for Ridley’s budding musicians, she takes a moment to reflect. On where she
came from. On the work she puts in now. On the new album that’s taken years to
come together—and the recognition that’s already trickling in. “It might not be
the way you initially imagined,” she muses, “but if you have a passion for
something, if it’s authentic to you, you’ll find a way to manifest it.”
And, if she’s learned
anything, it’s that you never know what’s next. Looking back at the road which
led her to this point, in some ways not where she thought she’d be, in others
right back here at home, Jane seems content.
“Maybe the road is still
This article was printed in the latest issue of Tiger magazine. Learn about our alumni, get community updates and find out where Ridley is heading next! Read more from our winter issue.
Award-winning actor, Colm Feore ’77 talks Canada’s arts scene, giving back—and how his time at Ridley helped give him his start.
Even when he’s travelling, he’s working. But after forty odd years in the business, Colm Feore ’77 will tell you it’s the key to his success. With Stephen Greenblatt’s Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics at one elbow, and a thick history of the Bard at his other, we spoke with Colm this past August when he was visiting his wife—acclaimed director, Donna Feore—while she directed Bernhardt/Hamlet at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. “She promised me a birthday dinner,” laughs the Stratford-based actor, who just turned 61. “So, I came to collect.”
These days, Colm is delving into the ways in which Shakespeare explores the lust for power in his plays—and how society suffers at the hands of his ‘fictional’ kings. One of Canada’s most celebrated actors, the proud Old Ridleian has played many of Shakespeare’s leading characters at the Stratford Festival, and will be taking on the role of Richard III this upcoming season. The play is poised to inaugurate the Tom Patterson Theatre Centre, a stunning, 100-million-dollar space that positions the Festival at the forefront of theatrical innovation. For artistic director Antoni Cimolino, choosing Colm to utter the powerful first words at the new theatre was easy, touting the thespian as “part of the Festival’s DNA” in a recent press release. And, though rehearsals are still months away, for Stratford’s latest king there’s plenty of reading to be done.
But if you haven’t seen him on the stage, you’ll know him
from the screen. “To make a living in Canada as an actor, you have to be able
to do everything,” Colm imparts—and over the years he’s proved he has the
chops. His impressive career has taken him from stage to film, television and
Netflix, where you’ll catch outstanding performances in everything from Chicago,
Bon Cop, Bad Cop and Thor; to the critically acclaimed Thirty-Two
Short Films About Glenn Gould; to his award-winning performance as Pierre Elliot
Trudeau. You’ll also find him capturing TV audiences in a number of popular series:
think The Borgias, The West Wing, House of Cards, 24,
The Umbrella Academy and more.
“The whole point of my job is to disappear,” he says simply. “That’s the job. Be something else.”
It’s a diverse body of work that reflects his mantra—just
show up—in many ways developed here at Ridley. “That was always the lesson:
you’ve got to be here to play,” he reflects. “And it became a very simple
mantra. If you show up, you’ll learn; if you learn you’ll get better.”
Though Colm had a diverse career on campus—becoming a Prefect,
taking an active role in public speaking and debate, participating in a range
of sports, and becoming editor of the Acta’s sports and literary sections—it
was the acting bug that got him. Colm credits Ridley’s teachers with instilling
in him a genuine love for words and the stage. “We weren’t just doing the
standard production of West Side Story, or whatever was making the
rounds at school gymnasium plays,” he remembers. “They engaged us in a serious
commitment to drama, and to the idea that there might be a life in the arts.
And when you have masters and students, fellow students, above and below you,
who are all into the same thing…” Colm trails off. “Well, a guy could dream.”
“That was always the lesson: you’ve got to be here to play,” he reflects. “And it became a very simple mantra. If you show up, you’ll learn; if you learn you’ll get better.”
And as his parents returned to Ridley time and again to see
him act, they were learning just how good their son really was. “Once someone
leaned over to them during a play and said, ‘This is very good, but it’s not
really fair for them to bring in professional actors,’” he smiles.
But it was when he was applying to post-secondary school
that Colm really received their endorsement, learning they’d accepted an offer
from Montreal’s National Theatre School on his behalf—and suddenly the dream
was off and running.
That Ridleian mantra kept Colm showing up right through theatre
school and onto stage and screen, helping him navigate the requisite ebbs and
flows of the biz. “Ridley’s a school that’s based on hard work and
determination—your effort is going to matter just as much as your talent,” he
shares. “Because for every six miracles in this industry, there are a thousand
people behind them who just keep doing the work. Professionally, that pays
And as the accolades keep coming, with peers and critics alike
applauding his ability to “disappear into roles,” it’s clear both talent and
hard work pay off. In 2002, Colm received a Gemini for his performance in Trudeau,
and the Gascon-Thomas Award by the National Theatre School of Canada in 2013. That
same year he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, for “bridging
Anglophone and Francophone cultures as a fluently bilingual performer.” This
past spring, Colm was recognized for Lifetime Artistic Achievement at the
Governor General’s Performing Arts Gala in Ottawa. But the popular actor takes
his success in stride. “The
whole point of my job is to disappear,” he says simply. “That’s the job. Be
“There’s a great application of these skills we learn communicating in the arts: speaking to one another, showing and telling our stories, exploring each other’s histories and lives. We learn from each other. And one of the best ways to do that is to take a risk, to stand up in front of people and to say, ‘I think this’—and I trust that you will find some value in it.”
In true Ridley fashion, Colm is also giving back, raising awareness of the importance of studying Shakespeare as a guest in Marvin Karon’s summer camp, Shakesperience, and as a board member of REEL CANADA, a unique programme which engages and inspires youth, and promotes Canada’s cultural identity. “REEL CANADA brings Canadian film into Canadian classrooms,” he explains, clearly passionate about the project which connects students with directors, writers, actors, and producers. “It says, ‘Here’s our story. Here’s who we are—and you’re going to see yourselves reflected in these spaces.’”
And as he sits in his Chicago hotel, thinking back to his time on the Ridley stage, of the hallways he once walked, Colm hopes his story will inspire the students who walk them now. Because he knows, perhaps more than most, that telling stories is what brings communities together. “There’s a great application of these skills we learn communicating in the arts: speaking to one another, showing and telling our stories, exploring each other’s histories and lives. We learn from each other,” he concludes thoughtfully. “And one of the best ways to do that is to take a risk, to stand up in front of people and to say, ‘I think this’—and I trust that you will find some value in it.”
This article was printed in the latest issue of Tiger magazine. Learn about our alumni, get community updates and find out where Ridley is heading next! Read more from our winter issue.
Driven, ambitious and passionate are a few words you may use to describe an inherently inspirational woman in your life. Today is International Women’s Day and we’d like to celebrate a few of Ridley’s alumnae who have made their mark on the world.
Georgina Black ’85: As the first female Chair of the Board of Governors at Ridley College, Georgina has paved the way for young women to succeed in both leadership and governance. In addition to her role at Ridley, she is a Partner at KPMG Canada and was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women in 2016.
Michele-Elise Burnett ’86: Michele-Elise founded the Indigenous festival, Celebration of Nations, which takes place every September. In addition, during the 18th annual Women in Business Awards this past November, Michele-Elise Burnett ’85 was recognized for her commitment to helping the arts thrive in Niagara; winning the Cultural Arts Award.
Sarah Eyton ’86: As Vice President of Fund Development at Special Olympics Canada, this alumna has dedicated her career to supporting those with intellectual disabilities in realizing their dreams of competing in sport. In addition, she serves Ridley College as a member of the Board of Governors and the Advancement Committee.
Nadine Karachi-Estrada ’87: Passionate about social justice, this alumna was appointed the Honorary Consul for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2016. In addition, she has served on a number of Boards, including Ridley College, Patrons of Contemporary Art in Mexico and MEXFAM. She was also a founding member of Camp Deen, which is a camp that empowers Muslim Canadians to be proud of their heritage.
Wendy O’Brien ’88: This alumna started her own casting company in Los Angeles, Wendy O’Brien Casting, and has been the Casting Director for hit television shows such as: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Sons of Anarchyand Prison Break.
Hilary Caters ’89: Hilary was once an entrepreneur and marketing agency owner, until she realized her path was leading her down a different direction. Now, she is a passionate life coach and motivational speaker. During the Niagara Leadership Summit for Women in October of 2018, Hilary spoke to aspiring leaders about taking control of ones’ life and the importance of seeking and uncovering both passion and purpose.
Jane Lewis ’90: This Canadian singer-songwriter has always been involved in the arts. While she began her career as an author and editor, she shifted towards music in 2009. Since then, she has honed her skills, released a number of CDs and launched both a solo career and her band, Gathering Sparks. She will be performing at our Toronto Branch event, Curating Connections, on April 2nd.
Alison Loat ’94: This alumna co-founded Samara Canada, a charitable organization that works to improve political participation in Canada. In addition, she has published several notable books, is the Managing Director at FCLTGlobal, serves on both Ridley’s Board of Governors as well as Ai-Media and has been named one of WXN’s most influential women in Canada.
Jeanette Stock ’09: This alumna is paving the way for a more inclusive and diverse tech landscape through Venture Out. Venture Out is an initiative launched by Jeanette and her peers in 2016, with the goal of connecting LGBTQA+ people, working in technology, with career and networking opportunities. In 2017, Venture Out held its first conference; welcoming over 450 individuals to Canada’s first conference for LGBTQA+ students and professionals, seeking careers in the tech industry.
Laura Court ’14: After a unanimous vote, former Ridley rower and current Brock Badger, Laura Court ’14 was named Brock University’s OUA Female Athlete of the Year—the first coxswain to receive this honour. With a number of gold medal wins behind her and a promising future ahead, it is no surprise that she was recognized for her grit, determination and skill.
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.
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.
This past weekend, Ridley graduates from far and wide returned to campus for HomeComing; where they had the chance to see friends, reminisce about old times, and make new memories.
This year in particular, we celebrated classes whose years ended in 0’s and 5’s, and honoured the class of 1965 as 2015’s Golden Tigers.
Friday’s events began with the Golden Tigers luncheon with Headmaster, Ed Kidd and his wife, Hanna, followed by a tour of the new buildings on campus. Later in the evening, OR’s, Governor’s, faculty and friends gathered in school house to watch the unveiling of the 125 Donor Wall, which proudly displays the names of those who made major donations to the school during the 125th year. The Governors’ Dinner rounded out the day’s events with OR’s from 1945 all the way up to 2010 dined in the Great Hall.
Saturday began with Alumni Rowing, where twelve OR’s took to Royal Canadian Henley Regatta to row with the current Ridley Crew. The rain did make a brief appearance, but the rowers had smiles on their faces nonetheless.
Back on campus, OR’s began to fill up the tent, tour their old houses, visit with their old teachers and enjoy their time back on the Ridley grounds. The bleachers in the Griffith Gym were filled to capacity, as the inaugural “Athletes of Distinction” presentation began. This was an opportunity for us to celebrate some of Ridley’s greatest athletes, such as Fiona Milne ‘90 (Canadian, Olympic rower) and Alexander Hayes 30’(Grey Cup Champion). Luckily, the sun came out just in time for the OR’s to enjoy some afternoon sports.
On the final day of HomeComing, OR’s sat down in the Memorial Chapel for the “Founder’s Day” service, followed by Prayers of Remembrance and a dedication in the memory of John Stevens, ’42. Our last item of the Weekend was an alumni soccer game.
Thank you to all who attended and participated in another successful HomeComing weekend.
For all the photos from HomeComing weekend, check out Ridley’s official Flickr page!
“There’s nothing half so pleasant as coming home again” – Margaret Elizabeth Sangster