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Paul Kett

I was born in Dunnville, near the mouth of the Grand. Dunnville, like many small Ontario towns, had its requisite of schools, factories, parks, arena, and hockey teams – ours was the Dunnville Mudcats, now a Junior C team, managed by my niece and her husband. My father was a shift supervisor in a textile factory, and my mother was a homemaker. My two sisters, considerably older than I, married and left home while I was still quite young. Family life was important. Sunday dinners were happy times, often with friends and family sharing the table. Church was also an important part of our lives. Many of my parent’s friends were lifelong acquaintances. Team sports were not something I excelled in. I found myself involved in music, drama, and I had a job in a pharmacy throughout my high school years. I considered seriously studying to become a druggist, but settled on the first year Natural Sciences programme at McMaster. Money was a limiting factor for our family, so I was fortunate to be able to board with my sister and her family while attending Mac.

University days in the mid-60s were rich and full, and provide happy memories for me. I chose to major in biology, and our small class of about 15 became good friends, studying and

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supporting each other, socializing, and
even travelling together to Chicago one year, and Washington DC the next, to attend conferences. In addition to numerous political and protest rallies, we hardly missed a McMaster football, basketball, or hockey game in those four years.

Graduation brought the move into the real world, and the decision of what career to follow. Teaching had always been a natural career choice for me, and so I traveled to Toronto for the hiring procedure known as the cattle auction. Prospective teachers would walk the corridors of the hotel, encouraged by school board members and principals to come in for an interview.

My teaching career spanned ten happy and fulfilling years, seven at Stayner Collegiate, and three at Streetsville Secondary School. During my time in Stayner, a group of teachers and students each year wrote, produced, and directed a musical called Spring Freeze. This was one of the cultural events to which the community looked forward. In fact, it exemplified the close relations between staff, students and administration at our small but active school.

During my time teaching at Streetsville I came to acknowledge something that had been niggling in the back of my thoughts for some time – a change in career. With the encouragement of family and friends, and with the loving support of the woman I had met and who became my wife, I entered Wycliffe College in the University of Toronto in September of 1977 to begin preparation for ordination as a clergyman in the Anglican Church of Canada.

My three years of study led to a Master of Divinity degree.  Lliving with my wife, Kathleen, in a community of like-minded, and similarly focused adults was a gift that I still cherish.

After ordination, my parish placements included an assistantship at a large midtown Toronto Church, St. Clement,

Eglinton ; a time here in Waterloo at Renison College in the University of Waterloo, working with the Reverend David Hartry as chaplain and warden of residence; then to the parish of Creemore, a multi-point parish near Collingwood, and famous for its beer – I blessed many batches during my time there; and finally in Uxbridge, northeast of Toronto. Our elder son, Matthew, was born while we were in Toronto, and James arrived just as I began my time in Creemore. Uxbridge provided a great community in which they grew to adulthood, with good schools, and lots of community events. During the Uxbridge days we undertook a major renovation and addition to our beautiful 120-year-old church building. I retired in 2006, and we returned to this area, where my wife Kathleen works as a family physician in Wellesley at the Community Health Centre, a busy clinic providing a full range of health care. Our sons live in Toronto, where they are both employed in the building trade, one in home renovations, and the other with a small millwork establishment. We are still waiting for grandchildren to round out the life cycle.

We attend the Church of St. John the Evangelist, in Kitchener, where I help out with clergy duties from time to time, and also facilitate an active and lively adult study group, where we push ourselves to think outside the box about issues of faith and doctrine. We are enthusiastic supporters of our Kitchener Waterloo Symphony, the Stratford Festival, and the Elora Festival. We are also allowed to be called Chautauquans, as we attend the Chautauqua Institution in western New York State each summer for a part of their amazing and stimulating programme.

Defining oneself, according to one’s life, is not always an easy thing to do, as I know you too are aware. But it’s good to ask and answer that question, “Who am I?” There’s lots more I could say, but fine details aren’t probably very interesting to everyone. Besides, you know what they say about details and the devil. I hope this has been helpful to you, in getting to know me. I know that it has been a good exercise for me.

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