The wheels are in motion to mark the 40th anniversary of the class of 1978-’79 and if all works out as planned, organizers will surpass attendance at previous reunions.

Sir John Franklin Secondary School’s graduating class of 1979. There will be a combined 40 year reunion for both Sir John and St. Pat’s graduating class of 1979 from June 20 to 23, 2019.
photo sourced from Facebook

Caroline Kasteel Bowler, a graduate of Sir John Franklin School that year, said she’s spearheading an effort to catch up with fellow classmates and with former students from St. Patrick High School over National Indigenous Day weekend, June 20-23.

After graduating, Kasteel Bowler quickly moved on to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton and built a career in private business consultation and financial management. However, despite scattering elsewhere in the country, she said most Sir John grads remained in touch and anniversaries have been held every decade.

“Our group, we are pretty close and we always have been,” she said, pointing out that social media in recent years has only deepened those ties. “We have got a number of people from our class still in Yellowknife. We also have a number of people in Edmonton and Calgary, but we are connected with everyone.”

Details of the four-day reunion are still to be finalized but the event is expected to include a mix-and-mingle and a tour of Sir John Franklin School. There is also to be a dinner and dance and possibly some involvement in the Festival on Franklin, to be held June 21. There will also be an opportunity to play a round of golf at the Midnight Sun Classic and a barbecue and/or beach day either at Prelude Lake or Long Lake.

“We are trying to keep events more casual, except for the dinner and dance,” Kasteel Bowler said, adding that friends of the class are also welcome to help make the weekend more sociable.

Reunion planners have put together a Facebook page called Fantastic 40th YK High School Reunion 1979 – 2019, where it is hoped that the class of 1979 from both high schools will reach out to confirm their attendance.

Kasteel Bowler – whose father Everett Kasteel is the late owner of Yellowknife Auto Body, former Yellowknife city councillor and older brother of Trevor Kasteel of Kasteel Construction – said she hopes class members reach her by the end of December.

Among the students from that class are Pat Braden, who settled in Yellowknife after graduating.

“It is interesting because there are people who stayed here and there are others who have moved away and it is nostalgic that way,” Braden said, adding that the reunions have allowed graduates who have moved away to remember what the town used to be like and find out how Yellowknife has changed. Braden hopes people returning get a chance to share good memories with those who are still around.

“We were all pretty tight. It was a smaller school than it is now and I don’t even know if there were 100 in our graduating class.”

People interested in participating or providing billeting services can call Kasteel Bowler at 780-914-4988 or email at

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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