When Peter Ditchburn graduated from the humanities stream at Marcellin in 1959, he left school but never really left education. His pathway took him to an Arts Degree and Diploma of Education at the University of Melbourne, and to initial teaching years at Northcote High School. In 1968, at age 26, Peter moved to Calgary to study for a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration. Little did he realise then that Canada would be home from that time on.
Back in his Marcellin days he had enjoyed Athletics, especially hurdles, without achieving particular distinction. He was appointed a school prefect and became president of the YCS, a Catholic student movement of the time. Of all the brothers, he remembers Br Stanislaus (Bill Dillon) most fondly, because “he knew how to relate to the boys. He was always firm, fair and friendly.” But it is the ailing Br Roger to whom he feels most indebted, for opening his mind to intellectual life and for steering him to university.
In Canada, Peter taught English and his career soared. He became the Head of the very prestigious Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (“STS”) in Alberta (equivalent to a top ‘public school’ in Australia), and Executive Director of the Canadian Educational Standards Institute. He has now retired, but still consults on governance issues in educational institutions, and is a Director of the STS Foundation.
His wife, Sue, is also an education specialist in her own right. They moved to Toronto for 11 years for her to fill the role of Principal at a major private school for girls there, before they returned to Calgary five years ago. Like most Australians living in Canada, Peter quickly caught the skiing and ice hockey bug, and now derives great enjoyment following his grandson’s hockey team.
On his regular trips back to Australia he maintains friendships with old Marcellin classmates of over 50 years ago. His family has an unusual lingering connection with Marcellin, in that a great-aunt donated the marble altar for the chapel at Canterbury Road, and the cross from that altar found a place in the Bulleen chapel.