Alma College lives again

By Lara M. Leitch, President, Alma College International Alumnae Association
Letter to the Editor, St. Thomas Times Journal
Tuesday June 12, 2007

The weather cleared, the sun shone to make this past weekend just wonderful for the 106th Reunion of the Alma College International Alumnae Association based this year in Port Stanley.

Alumnae booked into bed and breakfast establishments and inns in the area, cruised Port's boutiques and art shops, sipped drinks on the various patios and most of all rekindled friendships and reminisced about the days of yesteryear when they were students at Alma College.

At the old college gates, some with tears in their eyes, they joined the flocks of other tourists who came to gawk at the ruined splendour that was once their home.

Approximately 90 alumnae returned for the annual reunion weekend which included an opening Friday dinner and closing Sunday brunch at The Wharf in Port Stanley.

Saturday was mainly spent at the Kettle Creek Golf Club. Coffee at 10 am followed by the business meeting where the chairwomen of five active committees gave their reports. At the fine luncheon, Mayor Cliff Barwick brought greetings on behalf of the City of St. Thomas as did MPP Steve Peters on behalf of the province.

Special guest speaker Andrew Gunn, chairman of the Alma College Foundation, summarized the struggles of the past year to acquire the college property and to thwart the demolishing of the beloved buildings. The evening dinner featured speaker, author Mrs. Jennie Berg and musical entertainment.

Alumnae came as they always do because of the memories of their years at Alma. Friendships were forged with girls from around the world. They learned to live with individuals with different customs and philosophies but who became the Alma family. The teachers and house councillors became their substitute parents. More than solid academics were learned. Leadership, self esteem, respect for others and their faiths were acquired and bonds formed which still last even to this day.

The largest alumnae branches are in St. Thomas and London, but 15 official alumnae contacts are found around the globe from Britain, Trinidad, Mexico, Australia, and Hong Kong to major cities across United States and Canada.

Recently Alma alumnae travelled to Trinidad to meet alumnae there. This past January some cruised the Caribbean together and later reunited with Florida "sisters" in Miami. A trip is being planned for 2009 to visit others in Bermuda.

The official Alma website is

Yes, the Alma spirit lives on as evidenced in the website guestbook as girls seek girls separated by time and space. Reunions bring them back from Australia, Hong Kong; this year from Bermuda, the States, the Maritimes and of course, across Ontario.

The weekend ended with words from the college, song -- "Though we're far from thee, still we long for thee, ever loyal still".