Members of Summerland’s Class of 1959 will gather for their 59-year reunion at the Sumac Ridge Golf Course Restaurant later this month.
The reunion will be held on June 21, with around 25 alumni and spouses expected to attend.
“There were 42 in our grad class, which was the biggest class of its day,” said Vic Uegama, one of the reunion organizers.
He said the graduates had held a 50-year reunion and a 55-year reunion.
At that time, some of the alumni suggested having more frequent reunions. As a result, one was held last year, with the 59-year reunion planned for this year.
“We were always a little unconventional,” added Carole McCutcheon, another member of the graduating class.
Uegama and McCutcheon say Summerland has changed considerably since their high school days.
McCutcheon remembers Summerland as a closely-knit community.
“We used to have everything we needed right here in Summerland,” she said. “It was just a little town in those days.”
Barges plied Okanagan Lake, stopping at a wharf in Lowertown. Train service was still in place, and Uegama recalls taking the train when students went on a band trip to New Westminster.
Both alumni remember well-loved teachers, including former principal John Tamblyn, who also started the school band.
“He was a very favourite teacher of all of us,” McCutcheon said.
When they visit Summerland today, the most noticeable change they see is in the new developments and subdivisions.
“We always thought it would remain as farmland,” Uegama said of land now used for housing.
During their high school days, Uegama and McCutcheon said some of the land close to what is now Summerland’s downtown core was used as orchard land.
The focus on agriculture also meant students in high school and recent graduates could always find summer work in orchards.
“There was never a shortage of jobs for us,” McCutcheon said.
Since graduating, many of the students in the Class of 1959 went on to university and to excel in various careers and professions.