History and Achievements of the Faculty Women’s Club, 1917-2004
The UBC Faculty Women’s Club was founded in 1917 at the invitation of UBC’s first President, Dr. F. F. Wesbrook and the Board of Governors. It was immediately given responsibility for overseeing the boarding homes for women students. The FWC is the longest standing service organization on the UBC campus.
Activities and Achievements
1) The early years:
• In 1917-18, at the request of the Board of Governors, the members began inspecting boarding houses for women students.
• In 1918, the FWC recommended that the Board of Governors appoint a Dean of Women, and brought to their attention the lack of proper lunch facilities for the students.
• In 1919, the Club founded the Anne Wesbrook scholarship for postgraduate work, named after the wife of UBC’s President, herself a Vice-President of the FWC from 1917-1919. Mrs. Wesbrook was named Honorary President in 1919, a position she held until her death in 1957.
• In the 1920s and 1930s, the FWC assisted UBC by hosting special guests visiting the university and attending congresses. It also assisted student clubs and provided entertainment for the students, hosting teas for Junior and Senior women and holding annual receptions for Freshmen.
2) The 1930s and 1940s:
• In 1930, in response to the financial challenges of the depression years, a Dean of Women’s Fund was established by the FWC to provide loan assistance to needy women students. Further aid was given in 1934 with the establishment of the Faculty Women’s Club Bursary for undergraduate students, which was maintained until 1967. The Dean of Women’s Fund continued to be supported, under various names, until the UBC Development Office took over the management of student loans in 2002.
• During the 1930s the club’s focus was upon establishing a student building where men and women students could meet together. The FWC assisted UBC’s Building Committee to raise funds for the Brock Memorial Building, which opened in January, 1940. This building, later named Brock Hall, was erected in memory of Reginald Brock, Dean of Applied Science, and Mrs. Brock, who had both died in a plane crash in 1935.
• The FWC then furnished a women students’ lounge, named the Mildred Brock Room, located within Brock Hall. Among the furnishings were two paintings by Emily Carr -“Gray and Gold” and “Early Fall.” These paintings were eventually presented to UBC on April 24, 1986.
• During World War II, the Club formed a Unit of the Red Cross, providing many articles of clothing, sheets, and knitted garments for Red Cross relief efforts, and sending gift parcels to members of faculty families serving with the armed forces.
• After the war, members of the FWC served on the furnishing committee for the “New” Faculty Club, which was formally opened in January of 1947. This structure of converted army huts, located near the site of the present Belkin Gallery, remained in use until the opening of the Leon and Thea Koerner Faculty Club in 1959. In the 1940s, the FWC also assisted with the furnishing of the recreation halls at Fort and Acadia Camps, and provided play equipment for the children in the veteran students’ housing.
• It was in the 1940s, in response to a burgeoning membership, that the FWC first established smaller interest groups within the Club, to provide opportunities for members to meet in more intimate settings to share common avocations and interests.
3) The 1950s:
• Seeing a great need, the FWC pressed the UBC Administration for the building of women’s dormitories. By March, 1951, three residences, each accommodating about 50 students, had been built. The FWC provided money for furnishings and several members served on the furnishing committee.
• The 1950s saw many foreign students arrive at UBC, including a large contingent from the Sopron School of Forestry, after the Hungarian revolution of 1956. FWC members met these students, helped them to find housing, and assisted with a furniture pool.
• During these years, FWC members met with the University Housing Committee to recommend much-needed improvements to the student housing in Acadia and Fort Camps. Donations were made of paintings, books, dishes, and money, and 42 pairs of curtains were sewn to improve these residences, which still consisted mainly of converted army huts.
• When International House opened in 1959, FWC members again assisted at teas and suppers, and gave support to events there.
4) The 1960s and 1970s:
• The 1960s saw another rapid expansion in membership, and the FWC began to look for a suitable space on campus for their many activities . When Dr. Cecil Green purchased Yorkeen (now Cecil Green Park House) and donated it to UBC, the FWC sought space in that building for its large general meetings as well as for its other activities. In January, 1966 the Board of Governors approved a motion granting the Club, in return for a nominal rent, the use of the basement rooms as a permanent clubroom facility, and soon after gave the Club Co-user status, allowing it to book the main floor rooms free of charge for larger events. Hard work by husbands and wives, the purchase of furniture and a gift of furniture from Mrs. Phyllis Ross, then UBC’s Chancellor, made the clubrooms most presentable.
• In 1968, in response to an appeal from Helen McCrae, Dean of Women at the time, for financial assistance for the increasing number of mature women students at UBC, the Club established the Jubilee Fund, which was initially a revolving fund, in order to support an additional bursary. In 1976, at UBC’s request, this fund was converted to a Bursary awarded annually to a mature woman student.
• Also in the 1968, the Club began their continuing association with the Crane Library for the Blind with many FWC members volunteering as readers for the taping of books.
5) The 1980s and 1990s:
• Throughout the 1980s, the Club was extensively involved in the furnishing and restoration of Cecil Green Park. New drapes and blinds were provided, and five members of the Club sat on the committee which guided the renovation of the building.
• The 1980s also saw an increasing effort at fund-raising in support of scholarships, and endowments were established to support four new awards: the Margaret MacKenzie scholarship (1984), the Vancouver Centennial scholarship (1987), the Ida Green scholarship (1989) and the FWC Memorial Prize (1989). The money for the Vancouver Centennial scholarship was raised through sales of a cookbook, Vancouver Entertains, compiled from recipes contributed by members of the FWC Gourmet Dinner Party group.
• A further endowment, the Violet Eagles Bursary, was added to the FWC endowments in 1996. 1996 was also the year in which the FWC was granted membership in the UBC Chancellor’s Circle.
• Over the years, volunteers from the Club have continued to give many hours assisting at the Museum of Anthropology, the Botanical Garden, the UBC Hospital, and the Crane Library for the Blind.
6) The 21st Century:
• While Interest groups continue to be a mainstay of the organization, with some 17 groups currently active, the FWC remains committed to providing funding for deserving UBC students. In 2003, two new awards were established – the Marion Nodwell Scholarship and the FWC Members Commemorative Bursary. The 90th Anniversary Entrance Scholarship was established in 2007, the Patricia Chapman Memorial Scholarship in Music was established in 2009 and the Maebritte Jeffels Scholarship was first awarded in 2011 – bringing to 12 the total number of awards endowed and sustained by the FWC.
Originally written by Josephine Robinson, FWC Historian, September 2000. Revised, edited and updated by Katharine Borgen and Gwyneth Westwick, August 2004