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Profile 3 - John Grenville

.By Doug Bowie with photography by Kristen Ritchie

There’s a famous line: “The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.” But the past isn’t foreign to John Grenville. He knows it well and is perfectly at home there. Plain-spoken, low-key and unflashy in manner and dress, if John were an actor — which he decidedly isn’t — one could picture him playing Matthew in Anne of Green Gables or donning a black frock coat and standing in the crowd watching the Last Spike being driven. But while keeping one foot firmly planted in the past, he’s also a thoroughly modern thinker and activist who’s deeply involved with the present and future of the city he loves — and is trying to make even better.

John’s grandmother taught at KCVI, his parents, Joyce and Jack, rest in Cataraqui Cemetery, and John, born and raised in Kingston, still lives a few blocks from where he grew up, so he would appear to be a certifiable Old Stone, although he jokingly refers to himself as a “New Stone.” But neither term is really apt, because stones are inert, whereas John is a quiet hive of eclectic activities.

The oldest of five children, John went to Winston Churchill Public School and KCVI. Dubbed “Stretch” by his classmates, he played basketball, volleyball and other sports. “I guess you’d call me a bit of a jock,” he says. He studied geography and math at Queen’s, but it was an occurrence the summer he was 18 that had a profound influence on his life’s path. . . .

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