Special thanks to Santa Cyopik, John Paroschy, Mary Ann Laing,
John & Brenda Neilson, Vera Ohler and Lois Albanese
for lending me their yearbooks, and their support.

The story behind this site.

Hi everybody – My name is Joseph Albanese.

The 6 months that it took me to design and develop this completely unexpected, yet highly rewarding project was interesting, to say the least.

I had the privilege of attending TFHS in 1969 and 1970 until I was unceremoniously given the ‘boot’ after the school closed in 1970.

It was at TFHS that I met Ron Ostrosser. When I was in Grade 9, Ron was in Grade 12. When I was in Grade 10, Ron and I were in the same class. Hey… now that I think about it Ron, how did that happen anyway? Did I unknowingly achieve such a high level of academic excellence that I was able to catch up to you? We’re going to have to talk about this later Ron!

I crossed paths with Ron again in 2000 when I got a part-time job with The Beer Store in Stoney Creek, Ontario. Hardly a day would go by when we didn’t talk about the old days in Fonthill. On one occasion I brought my TFHS yearbooks (Nova 69 and Nova 70) to work so that Ron could borrow them. Ron didn’t have any of his yearbooks and we were both excited about browsing them together. When Ron retired in March of 2010, I started knocking around the idea, to scan my 2 yearbooks and to give them to him on a DVD disk as a small retirement gift. Since I’m involved in Web Design and Development anyway, I then thought that it might be a better idea just to create a Web site with the books on it so that anybody who was interested could have online access to them. After a little research I discovered that the school was open for 12 years and in total, there were 11 yearbooks published. Well, my fledgling Web site wasn’t going to be complete without all 11 yearbooks on it! That’s when my current problems in life started (just kidding… well sorta)!

I’ve managed large Web projects that haven’t consumed as much of my resources as this project did. However, it’s been worth every minute and dollar that I’ve invested in it! It was a ‘blast’ to take this little trip back in time and in particular it has been a thrill to regain contact with friends, some of whom I haven’t talked to in 40 years. It has also been a pleasure to make some new online friends, people who went to the school, and I knew who they were but I never got to meet them in person at the time. 

Even though I only had the privilege of attending the school for 2 years, my time there and the friends that I made while there still mean a great deal to me. Every time I try to summarize my feelings about the school I realize that I can’t do a better job than the words that were written by Trish Rybski, which are printed on page 70 of Nova 70.

Several people have asked me why I embarked on this project in the first place. Well, I felt that 11 yearbooks would be just challenging enough to find (it was!) and that the work load would be manageable (it wasn’t!). If the school had been open for 50 years, this project would never have happened. Further, I simply became interested in the content and I felt that there were probably others out there who would be as well.

I’ve received numerous e-mail messages from people commenting on the Web site, all positive. It seems that for some, I have  managed to recreate a bit of their past, and in many cases it was a part of their past that had been lost until now. Some have even gone so far as to offer me money in exchange for providing them with a DVD disk with all the yearbooks on it. The disks are not going to be a problem and I appreciated the financial offer but this project was never about money and it never will be. The numerous positive messages that I have received is all the compensation that I will ever need in order to justify any amount of time or money that I have invested in it.

Finally, I would like to say a few words about the design of this site. Thorold-Fonthill High School existed in a simpler time. Therefore, I decided that the look and feel of the site should reflect this fact. As a result, I did not incorporate any complex elements such as Flash animation into the design. The only animation that does exist, can be seen when a user ‘mouses over’ a yearbook cover and they are presented with a page-flip effect. The image of the school is an actual photograph which I took with my Canon Rebel camera in March of 2010. Thanks to Photoshop I was able to remove the existing signage on the wall and replace it with ‘Thorold-Fonthill High School’. Thanks again to Photoshop the grey sky became blue (it was a cloudy day when I took the picture) and by applying several filters to the image I was able to create an ‘old painting’ effect. As I flipped through the yearbooks I noticed that group pictures were commonly taken along the wall facing Pelham Street. Students in the front row would sit on gym stacking chairs, the second row would stand behind and the third row would stand on more chairs in order to elevate themselves above the others in front. It came to me that the wall was still there and an image of a stacking chair could either be downloaded or created digitally. The only thing missing was the students which I replaced symbolically by the yearbooks. 

That’s my story. I hope that you enjoy this little trip back in time as much as I have.

Best regards,

Joseph Michael Albanese