Members of the Sooke Mother’s Union on a Victoria field trip in the late 1950s. (Sooke Region Museum)

Members of the Sooke Mother’s Union on a Victoria field trip in the late 1950s. (Sooke Region Museum)

SOOKE HISTORY: Mother’s Union had big impact on community

Group connected to Anglican church

Elida Peers | Contributed

Changing times lead to changes in local organizations as well. Today’s photograph shows the strong presence of the Mother’s Union, an affiliate of the Anglican Church, in the late 1950s, on a field trip from Sooke’s Holy Trinity.

When Emily Nixon arrived in Sooke in 1945 from Manitoba, in company with her daughter Florence and son-in-law Jack Goldie, it did not take long for her to impact her new community. Already living in Sooke was daughter Ethel, married to Mac Comeau, and when you added in son Gordon Nixon and his wife Elsie, the family represented quite a force.

A staunch Anglican, Emily Nixon soon organized many of the church ladies into a national movement called the Mothers Union. While we haven’t identified all, we note that some of the women wear veils, and are thought to be nun sisters connected to Christ Church Cathedral, where this photo was taken.

In the front row, second from left, is Terry Clowes, whose daughter Diane Cummings brought in the photo; the tall lady in centre, light coat, is Ruby Cousins, and fourth from right, white coat, is Emily Nixon. Her daughter-in-law Elsie Nixon is behind Ruby Cousins. Along the back, we have identified Eveline Martin, Ethel Comeau, Mary Waters, Nan Llewellyn, Dot Locke, Barbara Clowes, Beatrice Hull, and Betty Hansen.

The women worked hard to support the church, in addition to developing the fellowship which was one of the group objectives. Diane Cummings recalls with a chuckle, “No one dared to miss a meeting, or ‘Grandma Nixon’ would be on the phone the next morning.”

After a few years in Sooke, Emily had become “Grandma Nixon” to all, and pretty soon went on to organize the Over Sixty Club which was actually the forerunner to OAPO #88, initiated in 1964.

Working with fellow-OAP member Phyllis Johnson, the two led the group to begin fund-raising for the property on Ayre Road that now houses Ayre Manor Campus of Care and the Cottages. In 1969, the group made the final payment on the property – and thank goodness, as that property is so essential to Sooke today.

Holy Trinity Anglican Church continues to enjoy the benefits of their Mothers Union even today, though president Liz Johnson tells us that their membership is just half a dozen, and they are likely the only remaining Mothers Union group in Western Canada.

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Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.