By Eric Martin
Western Australia’s goldfields resonates as a rough and tumble environment for boys, especially in the 1950’s and 60’s, and the shared experience of schooling formed strong bonds that have withstood the test of time – more than 100 former Goldfields Christian Brothers College (CBC) students reunited in Perth to recall their school days on 3 March, 2019.
About 15 CBC classmates made the journey from Kalgoorlie-Boulder to Aquinas College for the reunion in Perth during the Labour Day long weekend.
Event organiser David Reed attended the college from 1956 to 1963 and said he had not seen many of his old school peers in nearly 15 years.
“We were very happy with the roll up,” Mr Reed said.
“My class, we had a reunion back in 96, so it’s been a long time and I’ve been saying to people we should have another one – so I called this one.”
“We sent out 1050 invitation letters and about 150 emails and I suppose on the emails we got about 40 bounced back (they’d changed their addresses) and from the letters, a couple of hundred came back who’d changed their address.”
The fascinating history of the school and WA’s goldfields was on display at the reunion thanks to the efforts of two former students, Brother Kevin Paul and Rick Marr, who together have written two books detailing the story of CBC Kalgoorlie.
“They put together a book on the history, written back in 2007 and then they updated it a couple of years later, so there are actually two books on the history that are really well done,” Mr Reed explained.
“So we were able to take some extracts from those books and put them up on the screen, we had two screens up at the function with a lot of that information up. So people could pick themselves out photos and different things so yeah, it was a very interesting morning.”
CBC in Kalgoorlie and the religious teaching order, the Christian Brothers, have played an important role in the education of boys in Western Australia in the twentieth century.
The school was occupied by the Christian Brothers from 1906 to 1976 and the college is valued by the Catholic community, for its past religious and educational associations, and by the community in general for its ongoing role in education in Kalgoorlie.
Christian Brothers College Kalgoorlie was established as a direct result of Bishop Matthew Gibney’s (Perth’s third Bishop) expansive education policies from the 1880s to 1910, when there were increasing numbers of Irish Catholics moving to WA, particularly the goldfields.
Bishop Gibney originally invited the Christian Brothers to WA to support the growing need for better educational facilities in the then new colony of Perth, establishing Christian Brothers College Perth in 1894.
Initially a day school, the Perth college was forced to expand to take on boarders due to the influx of migrants with the gold-rush, hence the decision to establish a second school in Kalgoorlie.
Relocated to modern buildings on Lionel Street, the college continues to educate young men and women within a Catholic framework according to the college’s motto of justice, peace and charity, as John Paul College Kalgoorlie.
Recalling the life lessons shared along with the curriculum at CBC Kalgoolie, Mr Reed laughingly shared the one thing that really stuck with him as a valuable principle worth passing on, “You learned to do what you were told.”