Catherine Ward," says Anne
Murray, the second shes asked to name her
remarkable teacher. "She taught me geometry and
history in Grade 10 in Springhill, Nova Scotia,"
continues Murray, on the phone from somewhere in the
United States, where she is on tour.
go from one side of the room all the way around on
the board, and she would write and draw little
diagrams. Youd be totally and completely
enthralled by the way she did it. She would just suck
you right in. Its like a good performance, a
good acting performance.
geometry was so simple for me because of the way she
presented it. The lightbulbs were constantly coming
on. Youd go oh, yeah! and if you
had the least question, youd ask her and
shed enlighten you so quickly."
considered herself lucky that she had Ward for both
history and geometry that year. Murray used to get
perfect marks in geometry and won the history prize.
Ward would have been an excellent teacher no matter
what the subject. "The school did not have a
geometry teacher, and she was, I think, an English
major and learned something about geometry that
summer, before she taught us. I just loved geometry,
and thereafter I had problems because I didnt
have her any more."
Years later, at
a school reunion, Murray gathered her courage and
went up to Ward to tell her, "Youre the
best teacher I ever had." But Catherine Ward was
shy and reluctant to accept praise. She told Murray
it was "the wine talking."
sure if you told Catherine Ward she was a good
performer she would be aghast," says Murray,
"yet she came to life in the classroom in a
second remarkable teacher was the opposite of Ward in
personality. The flamboyant and eccentric Lillian
Matthews "made English literature live and
English grammar live" for Murray in Grades 10
always been interested in English and loved grammar.
Murrays parents were sticklers about grammar, a
trait Murray either inherited or learned. She now
corrects her kids. "And they try to aggravate me
by saying it wrong," she says, just like she
used to do to her parents.
remembers some of Matthewss actual grammar
lessons, certainly more than enough to help her
daughter with her OAC work. "I still correct
people, and my daughter tells me Im not going
to have anybody to hang out with," Murray
An avid golfer
and former physical education teacher, Murray wants
to know, "Why is it that golfers play
good? They say it on television. Basketball
players play well. Baseball players play well. But
golfers play good. That drives me
One can imagine
Lillian Matthews nodding approval.