Thursday, June 09, 2005

It's A Small World After All

A couple of days ago, just outside the office building where I work, I bumped into Kate McColeman, someone I used to go to high school with. Yes, Levack District High School, (God rest its soul, it closed a few years ago), population approximately 300 students. Yet, here I am, about 5 hours south in one of Canada's most populous cities, working in a 5 storey office building (where, all around us, much larger office buildings thrust up into the sky), and who works in the same building as I but someone from my home town and high school. Small world.

It made me start remembering the ways in which Kate and I have crossed paths over the years. In high school, she was in the grade one year below me. We worked together on a stage production done for the local tourist association - Rainbow North (she was one of the actors, I was one of the writers as well as an actor), and then, shortly after high school, she worked in the Dowling tourist info booth the year that I was the Senior Travel Counsellor for Rainbow Country Travel Association. My job was to support the staff at booths from Manitoulin Island, up through Sudbury and the Highway 144 corridor and down to Parry Sound. Kate's booth won the annual award for excellence that year - it was a treat to present the award to her.

Kate's older sister, Jane was someone I also regularly crossed paths with. She was one year ahead of me in high school. When I was in Grade 12 (there was a Grade 13 back then - my class was the last Grade 13 class for our high school) Jane and I performed the "Islands in the Stream" Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers duet in an air band contest. (I had a beard at the time, so was able to dye it and my hair with flecks of grey for a proper Kenny Rogers look - Jane used balloon implants for the Dolly look). Later on, when I was living in Ottawa, Jane happened to also attend the same classes at Algonquin that my best friend Steve was in, so we had lots of fun times then too. At a party Steve and I were DJing, after a few drinks, Jane and I decided to re-visit our "air band" duet shtick - I didn't have a beard, but Jane was able to find some balloons for her role. Lots of laughs.

Kate & Jane's father, Gerry, also happened to be the principal of our high school, and another person with whom I regularly crossed paths. Mr. McColeman was (and is) a great leader - you don't always realize that authority figures are decent folk with a good sense of humour when you're a student, but I remembering being aware of this in Mr. McColeman even in my younger years. I had the pleasure of getting to know him well when I was president of the student council in my final year at LDHS. Also, it was a very pleasant suprise when Mr. McColeman showed up at my book launch for One Hand Screaming in Sudbury last October. He'd seen the article about me in The Sudbury Star and made a point of dropping in to say hello and get me to sign a copy of the book.

When we were chatting, Kate mentioned that she was heading up to Sudbury to see her folks this weekend. I suddenly felt a pang of homesickness (it might have just been the humidity or the Toronto smog) But in any case, this has been a fun trip down Mcoleman memory lane . . .


Jane McColeman-Farquhar said...

Hey Mark,
Don't ask me how I ended up on this page, but anyway, here I am! I can't believe the memory you have! I totally forgot about all that stuff! Kate did mention to me that she bumped into you.
My Dad actually gave me the signed copy of your book. I'm ashamed to say that I didn't read it, but my Mother-in-law did when she found it on my night stand. Congrats on the work!

Anonymous said...

By the way, Mark...we';re still in Ottawa (Orleans actually) and working at Cognos still. 2 daughters aged 11 and 9.

Mark Leslie said...

Great to hear from you Jane. Give my best to Neil (and the girls of course). Steve and his girlfriend Julia still live in Ottawa too, right downtown. Drop me an email any time at