Spirit of KCSS & Community • KCSS Teacher, Community Leader
Attended KCCS: 1961/62 to 63/64
Born at his parents’ farmhouse on King Township’s 8th Concession, Tom Ellison attended a one-room schoolhouse near Pottageville, and grew up assisting his parents with their mixed farming operation. Typical in agriculture, the life was demanding, but Tom was undeterred by the challenges he and his family experienced. He attended Aurora District High School (now G.W. Williams) before transferring to KCCS (which opened in 1961), where he completed grades 11, 12, and 13. Following graduation, and with his parents’ encouragement, he enrolled at York University (Glendon), where he earned an Honours B.A. in History, followed by teaching credentials at the Ontario Teachers’ College in Toronto.
Tom began teaching at Western Technical School; in 1971 he followed William (Bill) Eckersley to KCSS. All told, Tom taught in King for 29 years, retiring in 2000 after a satisfying 31 years in the profession. Of the courses he taught, Tom enjoyed British History most (until it was removed from the curriculum). In the latter 1970s, much to the chagrin of administration and custodians (because of the mud tracked into the building), he oversaw grade 11 Ancient History students in simulated archaeological digs. This involved digging holes in an obliging farmer’s field, burying hand-made artifacts, then unearthing and analyzing them.
Tom’s “influence” at KCSS tracked through many other aspects of the school. In league with Les Smith of the Science Department, he donated many a Friday and Saturday night as “Commander Tom and L.J. the D.J.”, running school dances, often to fund-raise for athletics. In addition to a full academic teaching load, he was a staff advisor to the Archon yearbook, and coached football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. He established the KCSS Athletic Council, which ran tournaments and sports-related activities, among them the Court of Kings and the Tip Off basketball tournaments, and King Karnival. He got a bus driver’s license so he could offset transportation costs for away-game travel, and mentored hundreds of students in the logistics of event planning, largely by supervising their management of schedules, banquets, dances, awards ceremonies and assemblies.
Tom, passionate about basketball, began officiating with the South Georgian Bay Association, holding various positions with the York Region Association of Basketball Officials, including two terms as president. He mentored new officials, oversaw rookie officials camps, and conducted on-court evaluations of officials.
In 1986, when the time came to acknowledge the school’s history, Tom worked with John Peddle, Janet (Mitchell) Sherman, Denise Stansfield, Doug Fiorini and Doug Clarke of the KCSS Alumni Association, and the off-shoot committees which ran a series of successful reunions beginning with the 25th, and ending with the 50th (with smaller celebrations marking each five year interval in between).
After retiring from teaching he helped Mike Mallory coach the varsity boys’ baseball team to two York Region Championships, in 2001 and 2006. He went on to chair the Alumni Charity Golf Tournament, and the Case of Distinction Committee. He currently presides over the induction of acclaimed graduates to the Case of Distinction, which stands as a testament to excellence, in the KCSS foyer.
In the wider community, Tom pursued his passion for baseball. A founding member of the Aurora King Baseball Association, he played, coached, and then acted as president of the King Township Baseball Association from the mid 1990’s to early 2000’s. He spent over ten years with the Nobleton Knights Mens’ fastball team, before moving on to coach various levels for King Township, and work as an umpire. Mark Pavilons, of the King Weekly Sentinel, wrote: “[Tom] became an Umpire-in-Chief, mentoring many young people who aspired to be umpires through the Ontario Baseball Association”. Always perfecting his craft, Tom attained one of the highest umpire standards certified by the OBA, a Level 3; it is a credential he has held for 25 years.
In 2019, to honour his life-long commitment to baseball, the Township of King named the ball diamond in Memorial Park “Tom Ellison Field”.
Happily married to Barb since 1984, and living on a lot severed from the farm, Tom is a proud father, and grandfather to: Donald, an Aerospace Engineer with NASA, who lives with his wife Nikita and their two sons, Charlie and Adrien, in Odenton, Maryland; and Michael, who received his Juris Doctor in 2015, and is presently Associate Counsel at Monaco Chartier Fedorowicz in Toronto. Busy with family, travel, and care of his property, Tom also works as an elite baseball talent scout for Team Ontario.
The Voice of King City Secondary School Alumni
Recognizing Outstanding KCSS Alumni