PHOTOS: Saanich looks back on more than 100 years of stand-out staff in honour of women’s history month

Saanich employees (left to right) Annie Robinson, Kathleen Warren and Helen Elliott sit outside the former municipal hall on West Saanich Road in 1920. (Photo courtesy Saanich Archives)Saanich employees (left to right) Annie Robinson, Kathleen Warren and Helen Elliott sit outside the former municipal hall on West Saanich Road in 1920. (Photo courtesy Saanich Archives)
Annie Robinson (left) and Helen Elliott stood outside at the former Saanich Municipal Hall on West Saanich Road in 1950. (Photo courtesy Saanich Archives)Annie Robinson (left) and Helen Elliott stood outside at the former Saanich Municipal Hall on West Saanich Road in 1950. (Photo courtesy Saanich Archives)
Kathleen Warren, who worked for the District of Saanich for more than 25 years, posed for a photo in Royal Oak in 1917. (Photo courtesy Saanich Archives)Kathleen Warren, who worked for the District of Saanich for more than 25 years, posed for a photo in Royal Oak in 1917. (Photo courtesy Saanich Archives)
Former Saanich employee Myra Hodgson, served in the Canadian Air Force, posed in her Second World War uniform in 1942. (Photo courtesy Saanich Archives)Former Saanich employee Myra Hodgson, served in the Canadian Air Force, posed in her Second World War uniform in 1942. (Photo courtesy Saanich Archives)
The Saanich council of 1952 was the first to include an elected woman. Grace Shaw (bottom row, second from right) served two years as a councillor. (Photo courtesy Saanich Archives)The Saanich council of 1952 was the first to include an elected woman. Grace Shaw (bottom row, second from right) served two years as a councillor. (Photo courtesy Saanich Archives)
Jo-Anne Morrison, a former deputy municipal clerk for Saanich, was photographed at Saanich Municipal Hall on Vernon Avenue in 1976 – two years before she established the Saanich Archives. (Photo courtesy Saanich Archives)Jo-Anne Morrison, a former deputy municipal clerk for Saanich, was photographed at Saanich Municipal Hall on Vernon Avenue in 1976 – two years before she established the Saanich Archives. (Photo courtesy Saanich Archives)

In honour of March being women’s history month, the District of Saanich and its archival staff took a trip down memory lane and selected photos of just some of the women who’ve worked for the municipality since the early 1900s.

Women have played key roles in the district’s history, and while the photo series from Saanich Archives only highlights six staff members, hundreds more have worked to make Saanich what it is today.

READ ALSO: Mysterious 1900s writing box finds a home among Saanich Archives

Currently, more than half of Saanich council members are women – two of whom have held political offices for more than 20 years. Coun. Judy Brownoff has been a councillor for Saanich since 1993 and Coun. Susan Brice was a member of the B.C. legislative assembly from 2001 to 2005 before being elected to Saanich council. Before working on Saanich council, Brice served as an elected trustee on the Victoria School Board from 1975 to 1980, was elected to Oak Bay council in 1980 where she then became mayor in 1985. She was also a Capital Regional District board director from 1985 to 1990.

Looking back to the early days of Saanich, Helen Elliott, Annie Robinson and Kathleen Warren stand out. Elliott was born in 1897 and moved to the region in 1911 – five years after the District of Saanich was incorporated. In 1916, she began working for the municipality as a stenographer. After 39 years of working and changing roles, she retired from her post as Saanich’s chief accountant and assistant comptroller in the ’50s.

READ ALSO: Mayor, councillor seek to reignite efforts to bring casino to Saanich

Robinson worked alongside Elliott. She was born in Saanich in 1901 and grew up on a dairy farm in the Quadra neighbourhood. In 1917, she was hired as a scribe for the district’s tax department and earned just $65 a month. Nine years later, she quit after getting married but returned to work in 1949.

Warren, who was born in England in 1889, came to Canada in 1903 and worked for the district for more than 25 years – several of which were spent leading the tax department. Then, when Central Saanich was established in 1951, she went to work there as the municipal clerk and treasurer.

Longtime Saanich employee Myra Erickson, born in 1919, also worked for the school board and served in the Canadian Air Force during the Second World War.

READ ALSO: Wartime diary of early Greater Victoria resident depicts life during First World War

The first woman elected to Saanich council was Grace Shaw, born in 1913. She served a two-year term in the early ’50s and, in 1952, voted in favour of allowing married women to be hired and promoted by the municipality.

Saanich Archives was also founded by a woman. Jo-Ann Morrison, who worked for the district for many years as the deputy municipal clerk, established the archives in 1978 and served as Saanich’s first archivist.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Local HistoryWomen in Businesswomen in politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A walk for autism awareness. (Black Press Media file photo)
COLUMN: Autism acceptance, not autism awareness

Elizabeth Sparling is the mother of a 24-year-old son with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Claremont Secondary’s year-long drama class will perform TRAP, a thrilling play by Stephen Gregg, virtually from April 14-17 at 7 p.m. (Image courtesy Colin Plant)
Claremont’s drama students to ‘TRAP’ audience’s attention with thrilling virtual performances

Grade 9-12 drama class will perform via livestream from April 14-17

Eli, left, Brent, Lindsay and Ava Wilson. (Photo courtesy of Lindsay Wilson)
West Shore families share experience in raising a child with autism

Two families reveal some parallels, but circumstances are different for everyone

Kit Thornton, chief aquarist at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, plays with Wanda, the female Giant Pacific octopus currently residing at the centre. The centre will release Wanda back into the wild next month. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
An octopus named Wanda will soon say goodbye to Sidney

Wanda’s personality is ‘complete opposite’ of previous octopus named after Dr. Bonnie Henry

Hamels Fabrics & Quilting is set to open on April 6 in Sooke. The shop is located at 2044 Otter Point Road. (Mark Martins/Pixabay)
Fabric and quilting store opens doors in Sooke

Shop is filled with all kinds of ‘bright, bold and cheery’ designs

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s help in identifying the man suspected of being involved in a stabbing. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP trying to identify stabbing suspect who wielded rusty knife

Stabbing followed argument between two men at Port Place Shopping Centre April 1

The inside of the Campbell River Community Centre gymnasium has been marked off in order to facilitate the public flowing through the clinic as they receive their COVID-19 vaccination. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell river Mirror
Leftover vaccines go into arms, not down the drain: Island Health

Immunization plan comes with built-in options for any unused vaccines at the end of the day

Most Read