Ian Hume was a larger than life figure at Chambly County High School both literally and figuratively. His arrival in l948 sparked a good deal of curiosity among students. Most of our teachers at that time were women and none of the few men on the staff stood out the way Ian did. This tall, gangly man with a crew cut was definitely not your average high school teacher. The nickname “Spike” suited him to a T. And when we discovered that he could outplay us on the basketball court and out jump and outrun us in track and field we knew we were in the presence of someone special.
Within weeks of his arrival the novelty of his appearance wore off and he became a fixture – the teacher who not only excelled the classroom, but also always seemed around for any of our extra curricular sports activities.
Those were the days when teachers routinely took on these activities without complaint, but Ian Hume went that extra mile. He was always there, coaching, taking teams and fans on field trips and providing personal advice when asked. Every time I watch a basketball game on television I remember him. He demanded that we pass the ball with two hands. The pros use two hands to pass to this day. As a track and field coach he urged me to stick to the scissors kick approach to high jumping – a style he used. It was the only event in which I had any talent and a new style – the western roll – was just coming into vogue. Ian wisely counseled me to stick with what worked best – he didn’t believe in change for change’s sake. In 1952 took a picture of him demonstrating the high jump – in long suit pants, a dress shirt and braces. That was vintage Spike. A graduate of Bishop’s University, he encouraged me to enroll in his old alma mater, and it proved the perfect fit for me during a particularly trying time in my life.
News of his death shocked me. In recent years when I learn of the death of a teacher I console myself with the thought that these people are older and have, for the most part, lived full lives. But in my mind I expected Ian to live forever. In 1988 I interviewed him for a CBC television program on his farm in the Eastern Townships and found he hadn’t changed a bit. The interview was conducted outside while he chopped wood for his stove. Not an ounce of fat on his lean frame, and I had no doubt that day he could still outrun me if he chose to.
His presence on the Alumni Who’s Who list has most of his achievements, but I thought this month’s newsletter would be a good place to introduce some more personal thoughts I’ve been able to gather from his students.
From Tom Frizzell:
Remembering back to those years and read of his truly amazing accomplishments I realize that we were in the presence of greatness. I remember when he introduced me to sports and how that changed me, I remember the long hours he unselfishly put in to coach us in track and field, to drive us to track meets, basketball games . . . how he tirelessly gave of himself at school before the bell, during lunch hour, after hours, weekends . . . all of this in addition to his teaching duties. Unbelievable! He led by example, with such skill and sincerity, and, in that quiet unassuming manner. How lucky we, and so many, many others, were. A kinder, gentler, more honest person I have not had the honour to know.
From David Coll:
Ian Hume was the teacher in Advanced Mathematics when I was in Grade 11. I managed to get 100% in his course on Advanced Algebra (and won a prize for it at graduation). He was a marvellous person and great teacher. His influence on track and field in St. Lambert and on my jock friends like Cameron Kenny was immense - he gave St. Lambert unquestioned credibility. He even convinced me to run in the hurdles at an Interprovincial meet in Molson Stadium (see the '51 Annual for the most improbable track team member!). I would have had a track ribbon for my trophy case but they put a seventh runner in the race! He was a beautiful man.
Perhaps the last word (or words) should go to Peter Rylander. He speaks, I believe, for all of us in this simple appreciation for a very special man.
He was my teacher, my coach, and best of all he was my FRIEND.