About the Community

We are the students who attended the elementary and high schools at 1 Air Division Headquarters, Metz, France during the 1950’s and 1960’s.  For the most part, we were the children of R.C.A.F. servicemen.  There were also children whose fathers served in the Canadian Army, the Diplomatic Corps, who worked for Canadian corporations or were dependents of American servicemen.  As well, several of the students were Canadian servicemen and women.

In those days, the Cold War was intensifying and Canada was building up armed forces as a part of NATO.  A European transfer was exciting for our families:  a desirable posting, 7 days on a luxury ocean liner for many, an introduction to a new culture and lots of travel around Europe.  All this at a time when many Canadian youngsters never got past their city limits!

Most families lived in the PMQ apartment blocks; others chose to live “on the economy” in and around Metz.  We attended the D.N.D. elementary and secondary schools, where our teachers made every effort to follow the prescribed Ontario curriculum (including teaching Ontario “book French” in France). They sponsored a number of extra-curricular activities, including major sports, student council, debating team, drama and glee club. Our school was small but active. 

We became aware of the historic value of our adopted city.  We passed under the Roman aqueduct, walked over medieval gates that spanned the city moat, prowled around WWII bunkers, gazed out the classroom window at a chateau, marvelled at the grandeur of the cathedral and saw the graves of soldiers from the Franco-Prussian War.  Our city lay in the path of centuries of invading armies and bore the scars. We were, also, acutely aware of the war in Algeria and how it spilled over into our city.Unlike high schools in cities in Canada, our teen club and after school entertainment usually involved our classmates.  We all left Metz at different times and went to different places all over North America and Europe and thus, many of us lost contact with each other.  Later on, many of us felt a strong urge to re-connect with high school friends, but this was difficult to achieve.  Paul Blackwell began the effort and built a list of about 40 names.  This list has now grown to over a hundred and fifty names, thanks to the Internet and the networking of dozens of Metz alumni.

Our school is not a place to which we can return, but that doesn’t matter.  We have the essential element of that school, the renewed contact with a group of school friends who have turned out to be a very interesting collection of characters.  Our first reunion was held in 2003 in Ottawa and a second in Vancouver in 2006. We are planning the next reunion for 2009 when we hope to return to Metz.