Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — Do old photos tell the whole story?

While the country reels over racist school photos by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a group of 60-year-old GHS grads were sharing their past and present on the weekend at a birthday reunion around town.

Photos from more than 40 years ago were a fun part of the celebration as more than 40 former students hugged each other and laughed about growing up in Gravenhurst in their formative teenage years.

School yearbook photos from the Tatler revealed a pre-selfie glimpse into the lives of a few dozen young small-town Canadians — some of the Class of 1977 who have now retired.

None of them were bad. But lots of new photo-ops and selfies.

“I can’t imagine my students retiring,” said Cyril Fry, a popular former teacher who was treated to rock star status.

“I retired 33 years ago,” said Fry, who was chauffeured around to events by “Cyril’s Girls” Sharon Mah and Michele Carrick, quaffing a pint at a Sawdust City Brewery welcome Friday night and Saturday afternoon social at the gazebo at Gull Lake Rotary Park.

Where did they go? Where are they now?

Many came from near and far — while some built happy lives in their hometown.

Those are the questions on everyone’s lips.

Shaun Corbett, too, is a retired teacher, like Fry. But only for a short time now after teaching in Halton Hills. He lives in Georgetown. He comes back each summer to a family cottage belonging to his wife south of town.

Chris Nielsen works across the country building Walmarts, out of their Canadian head office in Mississauga.

Ron Taylor’s worked for Bell for 35 years and is in IT in the GTA.

Charles Kennedy is retiring at the end of the year from the federal government, where he was a meat inspector with Agriculture Canada, working in abattoirs and now trains inspectors across the country.

Mark Holland lives in Belleville, where he is an electrical engineer, building hydro substations among other large industrial projects.

Corrinne McDonald left high school and became an optician in Barrie.

Mark Appleton, an electrical work, came from Aldergrove, B.C., where he is an IBEW union safety inspector. He did a lot of work in Fort MacMurray.

He told his friends about a workplace fight he is undergoing over the death last November of his son, Nathan, 28. He died on the job when a wall being lifted by a crane fell on him after he was seconded to the task without proper training first, says his father.

Karen Tomasetti was there with her husband Phil. They are pastors at the Gateway Worship Centre on Muskoka Road, where they’ve recently some nice renovations to the front of the main street church.

Mah, one of the organizers, came from Toronto, where she has her own international head-hunting business after working for Korn-Ferry, one of the CEO recruitment firms in the world.

She made time Friday for a dinner the Rickshaw Restaurant, where she and her siblings worked with their late parents Chung and Chow Ham Mah, who sponsored numerous Chinese immigrants many of whom attended their funerals in Toronto.

Bubbly Michelle Carrick (Mah’s BFF) was also there. She’s been a dental hygienist in Toronto for 40 years.

Fellow organizer Lori Miller Anderson flew up from Florida, after just avoiding hurricane Dorian.

She’s a certified public accountant and has her own clothing design business, Sweet Violet, named after her late mom Patricia Violet Miller.

Her dad, Mike, a prominent Muskoka musician and lumber store operator in West Gravenhurst, predeceased her.

Lori has put down her clarinet for the time, after playing seriously in churches and locally in Florida.

Blake Johnston, the son of another popular local pianist and singer, Orville, came from his Nova Scotia cranberry farming baring a bushel full of berries for Saturday night’s dinner at Dock on the Bay.

Blake’s dad was the founder of the Bala cranberry empire, now run by brother Murray and his wife Wendy.

Director Annie Bradley (Miller’s BFF) made it up for Saturday’s dinner, along with fellow organizers Peggy Prindiville and Sara Christensen who put on a fun night.

They were just a handful of the gang who enjoyed three days of reminiscing, which included a number who gathered around a bonfire at a separate event in town Saturday night.

But most were up early at 9 a.m. for breakfast at the Old Mill (formerly Sloans) where some had worked.

It was a weekend that rekindled old friendships and sparked new ones.

And that are certain to fuel their Facebook page with more photos and memories.

See the FB page for the GHS Classmates 60th Birthday Reunion at:

Former GHS teacher Cyrle Fry, centre front, is surrounded by his former students, some who surprised him by being retired.
Karen Thomasetti, left, Corinne McDonald and Mark Appleton look through their 1977 school yearbook The Tatler.
Organizer Lori Miller Anderson, centre left, was welcomed back to Gravenhurst by Karen (Sopher) Tolton, left, and Karen and Phil Tomasetti, who still live in town.

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