Before he became a rock star, Gord Downie was a typical high school student in Kingston.
“He was very quiet, a shy kind of kid, athletic though,” said Adrian Langlois.
Langlois would know. Not only is he the father of Tragically Hip guitarist Paul Langlois, he also was a gym teacher at Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute, where Downie attended high school.
“Gord was not a noisemaker or a troublemaker,” added Langlois. “He was quiet, thoughtful. He was low key, unlike his personality on stage.”
“I remember him well,” said Jane McKillop Coffey, another one of Downie’s high school gym teachers.
“I remember because my first unit with him was volleyball. He came in, he was the first person I saw. He asked if he could help set-up and he was the last one to leave the gym.”
CityNews got an exclusive look at Gord Downie’s handwritten notes from his student review just before graduating high school in 1982.
Some of Downie’s extracurricular activities included dance club and student council. He wrote that he was involved in a part-time band as a vocalist and worked at Mother’s Pizza Parlour and Spaghetti House as a pizza-maker and at a Mac’s Milk convenience store as a cashier.
But most telling is Downie’s own reflective critique of his time in high school.
“It is unfortunate that I had to realize just recently the satisfaction that comes from pushing oneself to the realization of one’s potential academically,” he wrote. “The fact remains that although I always was aware of my abilities, I never attempted to push them further. I have enjoyed variable success in my secondary school career, but it wasn’t until university loomed in front of me that I questioned my success. I must say now that with a new outlook I am still confident of my abilities and potential (more so in fact) but worry continually if my superiors are [duly] confident in their evaluation and judgement of me.”