Dave Thompson - Hometown Hero



            He brought music to Onoway!

Dave Thompson was born in August 1938 in Winnipeg where he lived and received all of his schooling. He studied English, French and Music at University of Manitoba where his thesis subject was Canadian Humour. He obtained his education degree there as well. Dave taught at Charleswood Collegiate Junior High and St. John’s Cathedral Boys School.


In 1967 Dave came to Alberta to build the new St. John’s School (near Genesee) and was the school’s first headmaster. There he met his future wife, Joy, who was nurse and secretary.


In 1970 Dave accepted a position at Onoway High School where he was hired to teach junior high French and “a bit” of music at OHS and Onoway Elementary School.


This was the beginning of the formal instrumental music program (Music 7, 8, 9 – recorder and guitar) at the high school and the first in the County of Lac Ste. Anne. This evolved into a full-fledged band program at OHS by 1974.


Dave took “The Roadrunners” on road trips and to festivals across the province as well as organizing Band workshops where trained musicians were brought in to share their expertise.


TheatreMusical theatre was next on the agenda and, with Sharon Service, Dave produced “Oliver” in 1974. MAD (Music.Art.Drama) was integrated into the curriculum and for 14 of the 15 productions over the following years, Dave was the musical director.


Choral music was also part of Dave’s job and The D.T.s (named after the conductor) sang their way into the school. The annual Lac Ste. Anne Music festival was a Dave Thompson inspired initiative.


Adults were soon envious of the young musicians so Dave initiated the Onoway Community Choir, Onoway Community Band and Lac Ste. Anne Musical Society.


Through the years, Dave played a strong role in St. John’s Anglican Church in Onoway. Following his retirement, Dave entered the theology institute of the Anglican Church and became a certified Lay Reader in charge of Sangudo and Mayerthorpe churches and care facilities.


Joy continued her profession in home care nursing after the move to Onoway and was a strong supporter (and participant when possible) of Dave’s musical adventures. She was, more times than not, wardrobe mistress for theatre productions.


Joy and Dave have two children, Elizabeth and Mark. They played an active role in Dave’s hobby (when did he find the time?!) of beekeeping.


During his time at Onoway High School, Dave was “loaned” to Mayerthorpe, Sangudo, Whitecourt, and Grasmere (Alberta Beach) to start their band programs.


Dave and Joy moved from St. John’s in Genesee to Gunn where they lived in the original Gunn schoolhouse. They purchased an acreage near Sturgeon River and built “Braeburn” where Dave did his own plumbing, wiring, heating – skills he learned while teaching at St. John’s.) Thompsons moved to “Bayview” in Blind Bay, BC in 2002.


Dave has always lived within sight of water. While in Winnipeg, all three family homes were on the bank of the Assiniboine River.


Following a car accident that brought his formal teaching career to an end, Dave put all his efforts into volunteer work coaching Special Olympics. This “was one of the most healing things I could have done” and led to one of his proudest moments when the local team won the trophy at the provincial level.


On Display


Bronze medal won by The DTs (Onoway school choir)

at International Festival at Expo in Vancouver in 1986.


RoadRunner jacket

(still worn by Dave when he is outside gardening)


St. John’s School Toque worn by Dave on his
many snowshoeing trips
– first at St. John’s and later on a specially-built trail
for Special Olympics athletes at “Braeburn”.


Guitar and case used by Dave Thompson

during his time in Onoway.

This exhibit was on display at the Onoway Museum from January to May in 2012.

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Last Updated: October 23, 2013