History book records South Vancouver school story

Comox Valley residents Ken MacLeod and Linda Graceffo have produced a monster book.

Two locals, Ken MacLeod and Linda Graceffo of Sparkling Graphics, have combined to produce a monster book — an 848-page hardcover book.

It’s called The Story of South Vancouver and John Oliver High School. The book is an exhaustive record on the history of South Vancouver from its beginnings in the early 1860s and now the largest part of present–day Vancouver and the high school, which was once the largest high school in Canada.

The book is based on more than 200 interviews and numerous other resources, including old newspapers and earlier publications that attempted to record the history of schools and districts such as Collingwood and Cedar Cottage that were part of South Vancouver.

MacLeod started the work 12 years ago from his home in Langley. On various visits to the City of Vancouver Archives, he had noticed very little about the history of the former municipality. He was also concerned that the memory of high school life in a large city such as Vancouver would be lost to history if someone didn’t record some of these memories.

He and his wife Cheryl retired to the Comox Valley in 2007. MacLeod was formerly a teacher in the Abbotsford School District.

Linda Graceffo has operated a graphic design business in the Comox Valley since 2003. She began working out of her home for the first couple of years until she established an office in downtown Courtenay.

She is originally from Grand Forks and previously lived in Kelowna and Vancouver before moving to the Comox Valley. Graceffo took her graphics training at Excel Career College in Courtenay.

She is a talented and hard–working designer who is able to keep her cool during the inevitable stress–filled periods that accompany such a work as this, which involved 590 photographs.

Until she took on the work of designing MacLeod’s project, the largest book that Graceffo had done was 280 pages. Her work includes “a combination of both yearbooks for local elementary schools and books for a combination of local and Vancouver Island self-publishers from biographies, fiction and non-fiction.”

She offers a wide variety of services that include logo, business/rack cards/brochures, print and web advertising and web advertising, publications and magazines, newsletters, signage for trade shows, website design and management “that caters to entrepreneurs and non–profits, providing cost-effective design solutions.”

Linda is also thinking of expanding Sparkling Graphics into the self–publishing business.

The first printing of the book has sold out. MacLeod is now taking names for a second printing. If anyone wishes to pre–order a copy, contact Ken MacLeod at 250–338–9241 or KenMacLeod2@gmail.com.

MacLeod is a regular contributor to the British Columbia History magazine. His article on the history of John Oliver High School appears in the fall of 2012 edition.

He was also the military subject adviser to the Encyclopedia of British Columbia (Harbour Publishing, 2000). MacLeod has conducted 24 military and veterans tours to Northwest Europe and Italy since 1995, revisiting the Canadian battlefields, cemeteries, and commemorative sites and establishing extensive relations with people in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy.

MacLeod is an admirer of the late Barry Broadfoot, who produced several books beginning with Ten Lost Years (Canada and the 1930s) that are based on interviews that he made as he criss–crossed Canada during the late 1960s to the 1980s.

His next work is an aural history of the West Coast salmon–fishing industry. MacLeod began interviewing oldtime fishermen along the B.C. coast in the mid–1970s.

— Ken MacLeod


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