Manitoba

Burton Cummings gets high school diploma

Former Guess Who frontman Burton Cummings returned to his former Winnipeg high school Monday to receive an honorary diploma — more than 40 years after he dropped out of school to pursue his musical career.

Rock icon honoured by his former Winnipeg school

Burton Cummings arrives at St. John's High School in Winnipeg Monday to be presented with an honorary diploma. ((CBC))

Former Guess Who frontman Burton Cummings returned to his former Winnipeg high school Monday to receive an honorary diploma — more than 40 years after he dropped out of school to pursue his musical career.

The 62-year-old, who was named to the Order of Canada earlier this year and inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005, said on his MySpace page that being recognized by St. John's High School is one of his highest honours.

"Most of my ambitions were seeded at St. John's. My time there was some of the best time I have spent on Earth thus far. So, be it authentic [diploma] or honorary, it's more than good enough for me," he wrote.

"It's not the piece of paper. It's the memories — the memories of the wonderful, wonderful years I spent at St. John's as the world of the early '60s unfolded before my naive North End eyes."

Cummings addresses the 2010 graduating class at St. John's. ((Marisa Dragani))

He noted that later this year he will also become a published author, with a book of prose, The Writings of B.L. Cummings, coming out.

"Were it not for teachers like Mr. Prochuk, that would never be happening," Cummings wrote.

"He taught me English and literature and constantly encouraged my writing and thinking and poetic foolery. I think he would be proud of my being published."

Cummings also noted that his musical roots also go back to the school, where he performed the tenor lead in two school plays — Trial by Jury, a comic opera, and H.M.S. Pinafore — "under the very strict musical guidance of Mr. Hadfield.

"Doing those two lead roles on that St. John's gym stage gave me a sense of stage presence and professionalism at a rather early age," he wrote.

The honour comes as the school celebrates its 100th anniversary. From June 17-19, St. John's hosted a reunion and welcomed back other notable alumni, including TV game show host Monty Hall, author and cooking show host Ken Kostick, jazz singer Colleen Savage and poet Ron Romanowski.