Dan spoke in Pictou, Nova Scotia, recently at a book launch for Cradle of Knowledge, the story of that shiretown’s famous Pictou Academy (PA), which celebrates 200 years of service in 2016. Pictou Academy jpgThe book, by prolific Pictou County author, Monica Graham, outlines the school’s difficult political-religious beginnings, the tenacity of its founders through amazing setbacks and interference, to its worldwide academic acclaim and a long list of internationally famous graduates and into more modern times with its own financial and political difficulties and on to continued academic strength.
Dan in PictouDan’s speech, entitled It Comes Down to People, delivered a number of personal stories about the people who taught at the Academy during his time there. He especially spoke about three staff members who had a pivotal influence on his career: a brilliant Scottish Headmaster, Robert Kennedy (most Headmasters were still brought over from Scotland at the time), a beloved History teacher, Mrs. Hugh Sutherland, herself a “Gold Medalist” as top student during her studies at PA and the first woman to be hired as an “academic teacher” there, and a new English teacher, George Graham, freshly arrived from New Brunswick who loved Shakespeare and quickly involved himself in school drama club activities.
Dan recounted how these special teachers recognized his talents and quietly arranged for the awarding of two scholarships, enabling him to enroll in a theatre course at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. It was the only such course available in Canada at the time and, with scholarships in hand, Dan hitch-hiked to the West Coast, finished the course and stayed to begin his long, solid professional career.

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