Tales From The Past

Part 1  How Did The Club Come About?
Part 2  A Place To Call Our Home
Part 3  Helping The University Community
Part 4  Ninety-Nine Years Of Assistance To The Student Community
Part 5  The Mildred Brock Room

How did the club come about?

In September 1917, the Board of Governors asked the University President, Dr. F.F. Wesbrook, to contact the wives of faculty members and invite them to attend a meeting. Twenty ladies attended the meeting. At the meeting, they were asked if they would help by supervising the possible rooming houses for the new female students entering the university. The ladies agreed to do this, but then decided why not form an official club for the wives of faculty members?

Within a month they had elected a slate of officers. Mrs. J.A. McLean was elected President and Mrs. F.F. Wesbrook, the Vice-President. Mrs. R. W. Brock was the first Student Affairs chairman. In later years, the first student building to be built on campus was named Brock Hall in memory of Dean and Mrs. Brock, who were killed in a plane crash in 1935.

Unfortunately, Mrs. McLean seems to have been camera shy, as I have not been able to find a photograph of her.  Mrs. Wesbrook was our first vice-president and the wife of our university’s first president. The ladies also outlined the aims of the club. These were “to promote sociability among faculty and staff and to take an active interest in student affairs”. These objectives still remain today. They decided to hold monthly meetings on the first Tuesday of each month, a tradition we still carry on to the present day!

Adapted from Jo Robinson, Faculty Women’s Club: Sixty Years, 1977

By Barbara Tait
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A Place to Call Our Home

As noted in last month’s article on the history of the Faculty Women’s Club, our club started out in 1917 with 20 members. All were wives of faculty members. Their first meeting was on October 2nd in the university’s boardroom on the Fairview campus. After this initial meeting they met once a month in members’ homes. Judging from the outcome of their meetings, much of their time was devoted to methods of fund raising. They were very successful at it!

The university administration encouraged them to entertain students in their homes, especially on Sundays. They were also asked to chaperone female students and to visit the sick. Several ladies gave talks to the group about their interests and travels. Typical talks were “The Feminist Movement”, “The Lure of French Canada”, and a report from an Inter-racial conference in Honolulu. In 1925, the university moved to the Point Grey Campus. Meetings continued to be held in members’ homes. Faculty numbers had grown to 100 and more space was needed for the club’s meetings. The club raised $5,000 to help in the construction of the Brock Memorial Building, which opened in 1940. They also raised funds to furnish a room in the building, which included two Emily Carr paintings – “Grey and Gold” and “Early Fall”. This room, the Mildred Brock Room, was the new home of the Faculty Women’s Club.

Mainly due to returning war vets, post war, the numbers of students on campus increased significantly, as did the number of faculty members. In 1947, there were 99 members of the FWC and within ten years, membership had increased to 227. We were outgrowing our space in the Brock Memorial Building. There was a huge increase in faculty and student numbers in the 1960s. Membership in the FWC rose to 342, plus 92 Honorary Members (wives of retired faculty members).

In the early 1960s Cecil and Ida Green bought and donated to UBC the Yorkeen Mansion, a beautiful house that sat on the edge of campus. This mansion was renamed Cecil Green Park House. The FWC negotiated with the university’s Board of Governors for space in the building with the promise that the FWC would furnish the main floor in exchange for its use. In March 1966, the Board of Governors signed an agreement to give exclusive use of the basement to FWC at a minimal annual rent. Thanks to many members and their husbands, the basement was cleaned and re-decorated for our clubrooms. We were also given high priority for use of the main floor for social functions. The club’s monthly meetings were always held on the main floor, because fire regulations prevented us from meeting in the basement. On August 27, 1967, the FWC Clubrooms were officially opened. Thus, Cecil Green Park House became our home and has remained so ever since!

Adapted from Jo Robinson, Faculty Women’s Club: Sixty Years, 1977

By Barbara Tait
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Helping the University Community

From the time that the Faculty Women’s Club was founded in 1917, one of the main objectives has always been to raise funds to give financial assistance to students at UBC and to help the university community. The Anne Wesbrook Scholarship, our first award, was established in 1919.

It was recorded that: “The scholarship offered by the Club be not less than $100 per year – to be open to women students – to be used for graduate work”. In 1919, one hundred dollars was a sizeable sum of money! This initial fund was started by Mrs. Mildred Brock, who donated a $200 Victory Bond, plus another $200 from a rummage sale. Money was also raised in various other ways and added to this sum of $400, making a total of $1,000 to invest. According to the records, “a City of Courtenay Bond was bought, since a Point Grey Bond was not such a good investment”!

In the early days, attention was paid to the welfare of the women students. Club members were asked to invite the students to their homes each Sunday for dinner and at Christmas and other holiday times. During the Depression, money was raised for needy students and the Dean of Women’s Fund was established.

Over the years the Faculty Women’s Club has been called on to furnish various spaces on campus. In the 1920s, the Faculty Women’s Club came to the aid of women students by donating $500 to the Furnishing Fund of the Women’s Undergraduate Society; and also making a sizeable grant to the Women’s Building Fund. The FWC furnished the Mildred Brock Room, a women’s student lounge in the Brock Memorial Building. Mildred Brock was one of our founding members. Two Emily Carr paintings were included in the furnishings! The FWC also helped furnish the women’s dormitories on campus: the Mary Bollert, Isabel MacInnes and Anne Wesbrook Halls. After the war, the club was asked to bring some home comforts to the huts in Acadia Camp – curtains were sewn and toys were donated.

Student scholarships were always at the back of FWC members’ minds. In 1967, for the FWC’s 50th Anniversary, a formal ball was held at Totem Park. It raised $500, and together with donations from various Interest Groups, a new scholarship was formed – the Jubilee Scholarship. This scholarship was to be awarded to mature women students.

In 1996, in recognition of our service to UBC and having donated an amount of money in excess of $250,000 to the university, the Faculty Women’s Club was made a Member of the Chancellor’s Circle. The club has also received a golden key from the Crane Library in recognition of our members’ help in reading and recording books for blind students. Club members have also volunteered at International House, The UBC Hospital, Botanical Gardens, Museum of Anthropology and many other places on campus.

In October of 2017, our club will have been active on the UBC campus for 100 years. We are the longest standing service organization at UBC. To celebrate this milestone, we have initiated a new scholarship, the FWC 100 Year Legacy Scholarship. We encourage all of you to donate generously to this scholarship fund so that we can continue the good work of the FWC.

Adapted and updated from Jo Robinson, Faculty Women’s Club: Sixty Years, 1977
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Ninety-nine Years of Assistance to the Student Community

From the conception of the UBC Faculty Women’s Club in 1917, one of its aims has been to raise funds to assist students in their studies. At the moment, our club supports 13 scholarships and bursaries, each one being awarded annually.

Most of our scholarships/bursaries are named for a former FWC member and we thought that you may be interested to know a little about each person. You may also be interested in the background of the other awards.

Our club’s original scholarship was formed in 1919 and named after the wife of the first President of UBC, Dr. F.F. Wesbrook. Anne Wesbrook was a founding member of the FWC, and worked endlessly to raise funds to help students. Anne was our Honorary President until her death in 1957.

Another Honorary President who had a scholarship endowed in her name was Margaret MacKenzie, wife of Norman MacKenzie, UBC’s President from 1944 to 1962. Margaret was actively involved in the club, especially in the hiking group.

Several Past-Presidents have donated money to start a scholarship to be awarded in their names. Violet Eagles, FWC President 1944-46, and wife of the Dean of Agriculture, Dr. Blythe Eagles, was active for many years in the club. She was an avid gardener and wonderful hostess. Two years ago, the Heritage Group was very fortunate in having a guided tour of Blythe and Violet Eagles’ home and garden overlooking Deer Lake in Burnaby. Both Dean and Mrs. Eagles gave generously to UBC.

Marion Nodwell, FWC President 1975-76, wife of Roy Nodwell of the Physics Department, participated in many club activities. Both Roy and Marion were long time members of the Gourmet Group – many an interesting evening was spent around the dinner table with them. As well as being a good cook, Marion was an avid gardener and made beautiful floral arrangements that we admired at many of our general meetings. As a fund-raiser for the Christmas Boutique, she would organize the Walking Group to make Christmas wreaths that were very popular. For many years, Marion was the convenor of the Nature Group, and then the Walking Group.

The family of Past President Pat Chapman donated money to start a scholarship in her name. Pat was an interior designer and was called upon by the FWC to be our representative on committees during the renovations of Cecil Green Park House in 1989.

In 2011, a scholarship was endowed by Maebritte Jeffels, Past President 1961-62, our oldest surviving Past President. Maebritte was very active in the Knit and Stitch group. I know there are many of us who still have beautiful hand-made items designed and made by Maebritte. Very active in community service, Maebritte was honored for her work by receiving the Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee Medal in 1978. Thank you, Maebritte.

The family of Katharine Borgen, President of our club from 2004-5, has kindly set up a scholarship in her name. Kathy passed away in 2014. Full of energy and good-will, she managed to complete her Master’s and PhD degrees while teaching mathematics full-time, and eventually joined the UBC Faculty of Education, all the while remaining fully active in our club.

The family of Iris Farley generously created a scholarship in Iris’ name. Iris was an active member of the club for 30 years. Iris and her husband, Bert, were members of the Bridge Group and Gourmet Group, so we knew them well over the card table and dinner table.

One scholarship is named after one of our benefactors, Ida Green. Cecil and Ida Green were very generous towards UBC and the FWC. It is thanks to them that we have our clubrooms in Cecil Green Park House, and thanks to them that we can enjoy the benefits of this beautiful house.

The Vancouver Centennial Scholarship was funded by the intense work of many of our club members. Past Presidents Jo Robinson (1964-65) and Lari Hooley (1986-87) co-authored a cook book called Vancouver Entertains. This cook book highlights the cuisine of Vancouver’s ethnic communities at the time of the city’s Centennial celebration in 1986. The menus from each of these communities came from the club’s Gourmet Group dinners – its recipes were painstakingly tested and enjoyed by the Gourmet Group’s many members. The recipes are excellent. No kitchen should be without one of these books! In fact, recently a few remaining copies of this very special book have been discovered.

In 2003, the FWC endowed the Commemorative Bursary in honour of past members who had contributed so much to the club. Other scholarships/bursaries celebrate milestones in the club’s history. The Jubilee Bursary was established in 1968 to commemorate the club’s 50th Anniversary. In 2007, the club instituted the 90th Anniversary Entrance Scholarship. Next year will be the 100th Anniversary of the FWC. To highlight this momentous occasion, the club is planning to endow a new scholarship, The 100 Year Legacy Scholarship, initiated with funds willed to the club by Lari Hooley (Past President 1986-87). We encourage you all to be generous with your donations to this newly established scholarship, of which we can be truly proud. This new scholarship is witness to the commitment of the Faculty Women’s Club as the longest established service club on campus. One hundred years of community service to the University of British Columbia!

Submitted by Barbara Tait
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The Mildred Brock Room

I stretched out comfortably on a sofa, letting the chatter and giggles of the other girls swirl around me. In 1962, we wore nylon stockings and high heeled shoes, form-fitting girdles and tailored suits to class at UBC.

The Mildred Brock Room (only ladies allowed) was our sanctuary, where we could shed heels, nylons and our newly-put-on sophistication as university women, and, amidst girlish mirth, gossip to our heart’s content. I remember it still, the wonderful feeling of camaraderie, the shared laughter, the weaving of dreams.

In those days, I never gave a thought to Mrs. Mildred Brock, in whose honour this haven in the Brock Hall student building was named, and I knew nothing about the UBC Faculty Women’s Club. Perhaps there was a plaque which I did not notice, commemorating Mrs. Brock, as well as the FWC members who furnished the room with comfortable sofas and chairs for women students to relax in – who even adorned it with not only one, but two Emily Carr paintings. In 1986 the FWC gave the paintings to the university, a priceless donation indeed!

Little did I know in those early undergraduate years that one day I would benefit personally from the generosity of the FWC members, by being chosen the 1965 recipient of the Anne Wesbrook Scholarship for post-graduate studies, the first scholarship established in 1919 by the FWC. On the glorious day that I received the news, I knew only that the scholarship made it possible for me to continue my studies in Italy, as I embarked on my Ph.D. And in 1962, as I relaxed in the Mildred Brock Room, little did I imagine that on a lovely summer day in 1970, the home of the FWC would host my wedding reception, where I and my bridesmaids would be in possession of a beautiful suite upstairs in the Cecil Green Park House, while my new husband and his groomsmen changed in the furnace room down below! I had no inkling that in 1974, I would myself become a member of the Faculty Women’s Club, where, by joining the Gourmet Group, I learned a love of cooking and the lure of new recipes; where through the Book Circulation Group, my literary horizons were broadened by books I would never have picked up on my own; where I made lasting friendships through participation in interest groups and on the executive board, and took part, as I still do, in enjoyable activities and fundraising events for the thirteen scholarships and bursaries now supported by the FWC, as well as the new FWC 100-Year Legacy Graduate Scholarship.

In 1962, I knew only that the Mildred Brock Room was a relaxing refuge, where I could kick off my heels, loosen the belt of my pencil slim skirt, let down my hair, and lie on a sofa, blissfully enjoying the female camaraderie and laughter around me.

The Mildred Brock Room is long gone now, of course, a victim of the striving for equality of the sexes on campus. Pity! In those days I felt sorry for the “boys” who had only the bathrooms and locker rooms in which to escape the “encroaching” female masses….

Written by Silvana Carr

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