SOOKE HISTORY: Christine Clark and the Shirley W.I.

Christine and Edwin Clark

Elida Peers | Contributed

Coming with her family to settle west of Muir Creek in 1890, at age 11, Christine Campbell brought with her a patriotism and strength of spirit that stood the community in good stead as she lived out her life as a true British Columbia pioneer.

This outstanding young woman became the wife of Edwin Clark of Shirley in 1902, and went on to become mother to nine sons and one daughter, also called Christine.

Busy enough with the raising of her family and running a farm home, Christine was an active member of the Shirley Women’s Institute, which met monthly in members’ homes.

For a period in the 1920s, it seems that Canada celebrated Armistice Day and Thanksgiving Day as one, according to the minutes of the Shirley Womens’ Institute, and Mrs. Clark strongly objected to this practice. The organization’s archived minutes, forwarded to us by Kelly Keys, reads this way:

“The following resolution was passed at the meeting of October 7th, 1926.

Moved by Mrs. Edwin Clark and seconded by Mrs. H.J. Kirby that: Whereas the true significance of Armistice Day and Thanksgiving is lost by being combined in one holiday, and whereas November 11th should be kept as a public holiday in honour and memory of those who made the Armistice possible, therefore be it resolved to ask womens’ and other organizations to take steps to induce the federal government to have Armistice Day, November 11th, proclaimed a public holiday.”

The minutes of Nov. 13 go on to say that the resolution was endorsed by the Victoria Womens’ Institute, by the Victoria and Sooke branches of the Royal Canadian Legion, and the editorial expression of the Family Herald and Weekly Star, a Montreal publication.

Mrs. Edwin Clark also helped organize a commemoration service in Sooke, and persuaded the school trustees to allow a half holiday for Shirley School and asked those with cars to drive, so the children could be present in Sooke. It was also noted that Mrs. Art Pedneault and Mrs. Kaulitz took responsibility for the making and laying of wreaths at the service.

For me, this was an interesting historical note that I was completely unaware of, and probably other readers will be surprised at this revelation as well.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

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