Chris Batty
Chris finishing the 2006 half marathon in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Risinghill Islington to Edmonton Alberta
1960 - 2009

After my last day at Risinghill I landed a job with Tersons Ltd as a Buyers Assistant at Finchley Central. At Tersons I learn office procedures, purchasing procedures, etc. While at Tersons I try to go to night school but the travel times from Plumstead to Finchley Central and return, etc. were not conducive to going to night school and learning. In the autumn of 1964, I become dissatisfied with my future at Tersons and quit.

In February 1965, I am a Canadian Immigrant on the Corinthia Cunard bound for Halifax on an assisted passage (I have to pay it back when I get to Canada) with about twenty pounds in my pocket. In a moment of brilliance I ask the immigration officer: What level of education should I say that I have when prospective employers ask me? His response was that I have “about Ontario Grade 12”. Considering that is 12 years of education in comparison to my actual 10 years, one of which involved the last two terms of Northampton and the first term at Risinghill, was probably an exaggeration, to say the least!

My first job in Canada was with the Dominion Glass Foundry Ltd., in their Quality Control Department. During my job search I had an interview with the National Cash Register Company (NCR) who subsequently offer me a job as an apprentice technician. Although the job has the same rate of pay, there is the bonus of attending their training school. Over the next few years I attend the NCR training school in Hartford Connecticut, three months and Dayton Ohio, six weeks.

About 1968 I find out that people can apply to go to university in Canada as mature students. Attending university in the UK was something that seemed to be impossibility. I find out the details for acceptance in engineering, which are: Ontario Grade 13 in Math, Physics, and Chemistry, being over 25 years old, and being able to demonstrate that I could do the work. So I take night classes in Grade 13 Mathematics, Grade 13 Physics at St. Catharines Collegiate Institute and Grade 13 Chemistry at Welland Centennial Secondary School from September 1969 to May 1970. There was no play for Jack that winter, and yes, it could have been considered dull, by some.

Not knowing that much about the school system in Canada or what universities specialize in, I attend the University of Guelph in September 1970, an agricultural oriented university, and graduate, in 1974, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering concentrating in Water Resources. The four years at university were stressful. The first year I just barely pass. After which I need to find a job and a place to stay, and so it goes for the next three years. Although, the marks steadily improve as I get the hang of note taking, studying, and exam writing.

Upon graduating, there are no jobs available in Ontario, due to the 1973 petro-chemical crisis, so I travel west to Alberta, were work is available. I work for a number of consulting firms and then start working with a land development company. When I graduated, I had spent 14 years at school plus one year of night school and one summer term. While I had a four-year degree, there was still something missing from my education. So back to night school and take English grammar, English composition, and report writing. In 1982 because of the Canadian National Energy Policy and the high interest rates of the time, 19%, land development and house construction, spiral down. With literally no civil or municipal engineering jobs available, I get a job as an instructor at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, NAIT, as a Related Subjects Instructor, to the plumbing trades, and in the summer take NAIT’s Instructor Training Program.

However, as house construction is almost nonexistent, so is the demand for apprentices, enrolment in the plumbing trades is down. I look for other employment opportunities. In January 1984 Wendy, our two sons, Aaron and Andrew and I, fly to Swaziland on a Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA, and World University Service of Canada, WUSC, project, I am employed as a Rural Water Design Engineer. For the next three years we have a delightful experience in Swaziland. My term as a Design Engineer terminates and I work at the Swaziland College of Technology, SCOT, as an instructor for a Water Technician’s course.

During our time in Swaziland we get to travel to the UK, France, South Africa, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Transkei, Ciskei, Kruger Park, Kenya, Nairobi, Mombassa, Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls, Malawi, Australia, Canberra, Sydney, Cairns, etc. However, as the boys near school age it is time to return to Canada.

Upon returning to Canada in 1987, I pursue employment opportunities with consulting firms and municipalities but it is not until 1990 that I find a stable job with a smaller Alberta municipality in their transportation branch, on the condition that I upgrade my education with some engineering transportation courses. This results in my graduating from the University of Alberta, in 1993, with a Masters in Civil Engineering, concentrating in Transportation.

Since 1990 I have worked for the same municipality as a Transportation Analyst and a Transportation Coordinator for the Transportation Branch, and now I am the Coordinator of Engineering and Environmental Planning.

In 1996, my oldest son Aaron and I travel to China, on a wonderful three-week school trip. I am struck by the large disparity between the affluent and the lower classes. Since then we have travelled to the UK for narrow boat canal vacations. In 2003, we travel through the midlands and 2008, Edinburgh and Glasgow via the Falkirk Wheel, with the whole family. In 2006, Wendy and I navigate the London Ring from Brentford up the Thames to Oxford, Braunston, Milton Keynes, Leighton Buzzard, Watford, etc. Traveling the Thames Valley I am stuck by the affluence in comparison to the other parts of England.

The future looks good, probably the best it has been for the last 60 years or so. However, in the past having planned for the worst and hoped for the best has been a good policy I will continue with this philosophy.

Looking back at my time at Northampton and Risinghill, I was happy and really pleased with my first year at Northampton. The announcement of the closing of Northampton and going to Risinghill was a time of great expectations. However, with teachers leaving Northampton during the last two terms, and the seemingly lack of academic preparatory work for the opening of Risinghill, those great expectations were replaced by increasing disappointment.

It has since become my philosophy that the youth of a country are its greatest resource and education is the way to turn that resource into its greatest asset, without education that resource becomes a lawless liability.

Ten milestone events:

1. Decide to leave Risinghill, (age 15)
2. Emigrate to Canada, (age 19)
3. Ask about level of education, (age 19)
4. Attend night school and obtain Grade 13 in Math, Physics, and Chemistry, (age 25)
5. Attend university and obtain a BSc (Eng), (age 25 – 29)
6. Obtain P. Eng (UK equivalent of a C. Eng) status from APEGGA, (age 31)
7. Get married in 1978 to Wendy, (age 33)
8. Obtain and Instructors Certificate at NAIT, (age 38)
9. Go to Swaziland, (age 39)
10. Attend university and obtain a M. Eng, (age 45 – 48)

Students I remember:

Philip Lord, I am glad that is last year at Risinghill proved to be fruitful
Terry King, we moved up a class the same term at Northampton
Stephen May, Terry’s friend, who moved up the following term