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East Pictou high school organizers seeking athletes from yesteryear

The EPRHS boys rugby team in the early 1970s. In front from left are Lloyd English, Mike Hecimovich, John Weir, Randy Kellock and Bobby MacKay. In middle row are: Terry Cameron (manager), Roy MacDonald, Robert MacEachern, Ivor MacDonald (whom the skating rink in Thorburn is named after), Keith Murdoch, Danny Walsh, Greg Williams, David Paris and coach Keith Melanson. In back row are: Percy Paris, Clarence Izzard, Kairens MacDonald, Doug Green, George Mason, Art Forsythe, Syd Smith and David MacKay.
The EPRHS boys rugby team in the early 1970s. In front from left are Lloyd English, Mike Hecimovich, John Weir, Randy Kellock and Bobby MacKay. In middle row are: Terry Cameron (manager), Roy MacDonald, Robert MacEachern, Ivor MacDonald (whom the skating rink in Thorburn is named after), Keith Murdoch, Danny Walsh, Greg Fraser, David Paris and coach Keith Melanson. In back row are: Percy Paris, Clarence Izzard, Kairens MacDonald, Doug Green, George Mason, Art Forsythe, Syd Smith and David MacKay. - Contributed

SUTHERLAND’S RIVER, N.S.

When East Pictou Rural High School has a celebration July 19-20, organizers also hope to have a gathering of all the teams that won provincial championships in the 50-year history of the school.

The first graduating class of EPRHS was in 1953, its final one was 50 years later, in 2003. The teams will get together on July 20, from 1-4 p.m. as part of the weekend events.

One of the teams that is to be celebrated is the powerhouse volleyball squad of the early 1970s, which won three straight provincial titles from 1973 through 1975.

“They went undefeated those three years and never lost a high school match anywhere,” said Keith Melanson, who coached the team at that time.

Then there is the 1959 boys’ hockey team that won a Nova Scotia title, led in part by Lowell MacDonald, who would go on to play in the National Hockey League.

“That was big stuff in Pictou County, eh?” Melanson said.

Neil MacKinnon was a stalwart with the volleyball team in the early 1970s and later taught at EPHRS for 20 years.

“That volleyball team was a close-knit group,” MacKinnon recalled. “We were the best of friends in high school and spent a lot of time together. I guess you could say we grew up together.”

He went on to say the weekend of July 19-20 is a good chance “for us all to get together. I won’t say for the last time, but we’re all getting older, I guess. It’s a good opportunity to renew old friendships.”

BANNER YEARS:

Provincial championship teams that came out of East Pictou Rural High School:

1959: Boys hockey

1968: Boys rugby

1971, 1972: Boys rugby

1971, 1973: Cross country/track and field

1973, 1974, 1975: Boys volleyball

1977, 1979: Boys volleyball

1993: Boys volleyball

1980s: Four high school hockey provincial titles.

NOTABLES:

A few of the notable athletes out of East Pictou Rural High School:

Lowell MacDonald (retired NHL hockey player, Masterson Trophy Winner)

Doug Campbell (track and field, cross-country at EPRHS and Dalhousie University)

Rod Walsh (spent eight years with Canada’s men’s volleyball team)

John Bannerman (Played for Canada in world Over-55 volleyball championships in Italy)

Jamie Sangster (Canada’s nation Armed Forces volleyball team)

Neil MacKinnon (Canada’s national junior volleyball team)

• Nine members have played at Canada Games

• Rugby players contributed to the formation of the New Glasgow Rugby Club

The former East Pictou Rural High School.
The former East Pictou Rural High School.

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