Principal Brian D. Webb welcomed the staff to school with screwdrivers instead of pencils. Their job was to assemble desks, chairs, and tables for the 234 students registered in kindergarten through to grade nine. Pat Berlinguette and Lionel Campeau spent many months designing and planning the Home Economics’ and Industrial Arts room, while Beatrice Fotty spent much time ordering furniture and supplies. The school was ready and only one week late.
Officially on March 5, l982, Superintendent Gary Kiernan opened the new school. It was named “H.E. Bourgoin School” after Henri E. Bourgoin, one of the first teachers at Duclos School.
Mr. Henri E. Bourgoin was born on April 4, 1897 at Pointe-Aux-Trembles, Quebec. In 1917 he enlisted in the Canadian Army. After serving, he entered McGill University and graduated with a B.A. and Teacher Diploma in1923. Mr. Bourgoin taught in the Montreal area. On June 25, 1925 he married Lucienne Seguin. In 1926, Mr. and Mrs. Bourgoin moved to Bonnyville. In January 1929, Mr. Bourgoin opened Duclos School where he taught for 20 years. He later taught in Glendon until his retirement in 1963. Mr. Bourgoin passed away at the age of 98 in 1995. Mrs. Bourgoin passed away at the age of 99 in 1999.
“Henri was so proud,” Mrs. Bourgoin used to say. Yes, Mr. Bourgoin was very honored and humbled to have a school named after him. Mr. Bourgoin would often say, “I am so proud (and he would pause) to be alive to celebrate and visit my school!” He often visited our school to share his stories of the war during Remembrance Day Service, to watch our Christmas Concert, to celebrate his birthday, and he was always there to participate in our Awards Ceremony. Mr. Bourgoin would arrive driving his huge medium brown 1969 Buick LaSabre and Mrs. Bourgoin was always by his side. One day Mr. Bourgoin was maneuvering this Buick ever so eloquently in front of the school, knocking down a few pylons the students set out as a parking area, coming to a halt right on the sidewalk, inches away from the concrete stairs. As if this were a normal routine, he then proceeded to walk around to the passenger side of the car and assist Mr. Bourgoin out of the car, then walked arm in arm to the gymnasium to the shouts and welcome from the students.
Our first school colours were brown, orange, and white. As the years went on, it was incredibly difficult to order sports uniforms so we changed to brown and white. Then when we became a middle school, we changed to black, white, and blue. Those are our colours today. Perhaps we should have stayed with orange because it is back “in style” today (2007).
And so, the generations of children of the first students of 1981 are now enrolling at the H.E. Bourgoin Middle School. This truly is a school of great learning and it is indeed a pleasure for us to be part of this history and legacy and we are proud to be part of keeping Mr. Bourgoin’s memory alive. Each day as teachers we work together to help students learn and excel. Mr. Bourgoin would have it no other way!
We continue to honor the memory of Mr. Bourgoin through academics, drama, music and art. The school population peaked in 1989 with over 525 students and 28 staff members. In 1995 H.E. Bourgoin School became H.E. Bourgoin Middle School (grades 5-8) and consisted of 393 students. In the year 2000 H.E. Bourgoin Middle School was a place of learning for 294 students and in 2004-2005 we greeted 274 students, with a staff of 15.5 teachers. Mr. Walter Ogrodiuk became principal in September 1983, followed by Mrs. Barb Spilchuk in September 1994, Mr. John Orr in September 1999 as acting principal and in the year 2000 as continuous principal. Mrs. Maureen Ference became principal in September 2004.