A History of Advocacy and Supporting Education

Evlyn Farris (1878-1971) was a woman of indomitable spirit and vision. A Maritimer by birth and education, she grew up believing in educational equality and the responsibility of the educated to lead. Evlyn understood the potential of women’s contributions to society and began organizing women to lobby government for equal rights and opportunities. She saw inequality between men and women as one of the reasons society was slow to progress and for women to be effective they needed to unite their forces!

1 Evelyn Farris
Evlyn Fenwick Farris (1878-1971). Education was central to Evlyn. Before the turn of the century she earned a BA and MA from Acadia University and taught in New England for six years. She believed women could hold their own intellectually with men and was determined to make a difference in the world.

In 1905 Evlyn and her family moved to Vancouver, BC. In the spring of 1907 she had met other university women graduates and they established the University Women’s Club of Vancouver on May 11, 1907.  Evlyn becoming the first president of the Vancouver club and held that position until 1910.

Evlyn had many influences on the rights of women and their ability to access education. In addition to her numerous community contributions, Evlyn became the first woman in Canada to sit on the Board of Governors of a University when she was appointed to that of UBC in 1917 and she held this position until 1942! She was awarded two honorary doctorates one from her alma mater – Acadia and one from UBC (1942). She died in 1971 at the age of 93 years. Sylvie McClean tells her full story in her book “A Woman of Influence” (1997).

University Women’s Club (UWC) of Victoria

In May 1908 Evlyn came to Victoria to meet with a group of university graduates to encourage them to organize a similar club on Vancouver Island.  At this time there was an existing University Women’s Club in Toronto and the Vancouver Club was the second of its kind in Canada.   Victoria became the third University Women’s Club in 1909.

The first Executive of the UWC of Victoria was elected on 7th November 1908 with Rosalind Young as the first President of the Victoria Club – a position she held for three years, until being succeeded by Madge Watt.

Sixteen women met during the summer of 1908 to discuss and complete the work of founding the Club.Twelve of the women had received their degrees from Canadian universities (Toronto, Dalhousie, McGill and Queen’s) and one of the twelve had gone to Edinburgh to obtain her medical degree; the other four, born in the USA, received their degrees from American institutions.Of the Canadians, eight were born in Ontario, three in Nova Scotia and one in Quebec.  It is obvious then that were other factors operating that drew them to Victoria where they were all immigrants!

You can read more about the history of the CFUW Victoria in the following publications:

(Special thanks to Gloria Dorrance, former President of CFUW Victoria, former CFUW Victoria Scholarship & Bursary Chair and current Club Archivist, Audrey Thomas, former President of CFUW Victoria  and former CFUW Victoria Scholarship & Bursary Chair and Paula Cox, CFUW member for their contributions to the documentation of our history).

Past Presidents

1908-1022       Mrs. H.E. Young
1911-1912       Mrs. A.T. Watt
1912-1914       Miss Jeanette Cann
1914-1916       Dr. Helen E.R. Ryan
1916-1917       Miss Grace D. Burris
1917-1918       Mrs. Edgar Smith
1918-1920       Miss Bertha Winn
1920-1922       Mrs. J.W. DeB Farris
1922-1924       Miss Kathryn R. Bradshaw
1924-1925       Miss Mary Hamilton
1925-1926       Mrs. J.F.C. Hyndman
1926-1927       Mrs. E.C. Hart
1927-1928       Mrs. E.H. Godson
1928-1929       Miss Jeanette Cann
1929-1931       Mrs. P.M. Barr
1931-1933       Miss A.W. (Nan) Eaton
1933-1935       Miss Isobel Thomas
1935-1937       Dr. Olga Jardine
1937-1939       Mrs.H.L. Smith
1939-1941       Mrs. Hazel Hodson
1941-1943       Miss Patricia Hamilton Smith
1943-1945       Miss Ellen Hart
1945-1946       Mrs. D.L. MacLaurin
1946-1948       Mrs. J.W. Price
1948-1950       Mrs. K.O. Wright
1950-1952       Mrs. J.F.K. English
1952-1953       Mrs. T.B. Williams
1953-1955       Mrs. A.J. Butterfield
1955-1957       Mrs. M.F. Smith
1957-1959       Mrs. C.Dexter Stockdill
1959-1961       Mrs. H.R. Turner
1961-1963       Mrs. A.H. Gunning

1963-1965       Mrs. J.L. Andrews
1965-1967       Mrs. R.A. Fraser
1967-1969       Mrs. J. W. McCammon
1969-1971       Miss Margaret Lowe
1971-1973       Mrs. J.E. Browne
1973-1975       Peggy Marshall
1975-1977       Peggy Matheson*
1977-1979       Audrey Deans Peggs
1979-1981       Julia Paul
1981-1983       Eileen Garrison
1983-1985       Nancy Roseborough
1985-1987       Audrey Thomas*
1987-1989       Olive Bailey
1989-1991       Isabelle Burke-Johnston
1991-1993       Eileen Giles
1993-1995       Mischa German van Eck
1995-1997       Barbara Bjerring
1997-1999       Gloria Dorrance*
1999-2000       Victoria Pitt*
2000-2002       Cairine Miner*
2002-2004       Valerie MacDevitt*
2004-2005       Nancy Leitch
2005-2006       Valerie MacDevitt*
2006-2007       Myrtle Siebert*
2007-2009       Paddy McGowan*
2009-2011       Dawn Jones*
2011-2012       Aileen Lingwood*
2012-2014       Susan Lane*
2014-2016       Brenda Canitz*
2016-2018       Tracey Otto*
2018-2020       Allison Nelson-Bruce
2020-2022       Shirley Lucyk*

*current club members