Former exchange student from Mexico returns to McLennan after forty years

Victor Ferrat and Pat Penner at Ecole Providence, October 14.

Tom Henihan
Express Staff

In 1978, Victor Ferrat, a fourteen year old teenager from Mexico City attended Ecole Providence for seven months as an exchange student.

Ferrat, who has visited Canada on a number of occasions in the intervening years and is presently spending a year in Vancouver, revisited McLennan for the first time in forty years on October 14.

Ferrat described the time he spent in McLennan as a very important experience in his adolescence and a time he remembers with great fondness.

He was surprised at how little the town of McLennan had changed except that the Kimiwan Lake was now much further from the town than when he visited in 1978.

However, what was the biggest surprise for Ferrat was discovering that Pat Penner, in whose home he stayed when he was a student, was still living in McLennan.

“I didn’t know if I can find anybody who was living here when I was here and it was a surprise when they tell me that Pat is living here,” says Ferratt. “That was really nice to get to see her again.”

Another person that Ferrat remembered and who is still living in McLennan is Francis Lessard, who due to having the flu was unable to join Ferrat when he revisited Ecole Providence while in town.

At the time Victor Ferrat attended Ecole Providence, John O’Mahony was school principal. While he was here recently, Philippa O’Mahony showed him a binder of photographs from that period, included a letter Ferrat wrote in Spanish thanking Principal O’Mahony.

Pat Penner also reminisced about Victor Ferrat’s time in McLennan and talked about a trip her husband, daughter and she made with Victor to visit her family for Easter in the B.C. Lower Mainland.

“It was great vacation for us because we stopped along the way, which we wouldn’t have done if Victor wasn’t with us, so it was a really great time for all of us.”

Following his tour of Providence, Ferrat drove to Edmonton to visit with Pat ’s daughter that evening and catch his return flight to Vancouver the next day.

Pat Penner with students at the time Victor Ferrat was an exchange student.
A letter written by a fellow student describing Ferrar’s time in McLennan.
Front right: Ferrar with fellow students at Ecole Providence, 1978.
Victor Ferrar’s letter written in Spanish thanking Principal John O’ Mahony just prior to his return to Mexico.
Victor Ferrat, front row, 2nd from right during a Providence trip to Edmonton.


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