How many people continue working in their career until age 101? Not many.
Connie Isherwood was a remarkable woman.
Born in Nanaimo in January 1920, Connie became a part of Sooke’s culture and an inspiration for many, radiating enthusiasm and charm along the way.
When Connie died last week, she was Canada’s oldest practicing lawyer.
Born to Charles and Grace Holmes, Connie’s intellect and abilities carried her to great heights. Connie Holmes’ law degree was earned at the University of B.C. She was one of eight women graduates in a class of 206, and her marks were the highest in the class.
You might have thought, if she had such a brain, perhaps all she did was study, but no, she took part in many social and musical activities.
During the Second World War, she was part of a singing trio called the Rhythmettes and the Eight Gorgeous Girls band’s drummer. The girls entertained at armed forces training camps, such as Gordon Head, Naden, Patricia Bay and Otter Point.
While at UBC law school, she met Foster Isherwood, the man she married in 1963.
Many Sooke folk knew Foster Isherwood, who combined his career in law with his interest in land development, in addition to his lifelong interest in B.C. history. The pair partnered in the law firm Holmes and Isherwood, and Connie became a member of the Women’s Business Network of Vancouver Island. The couple raised two sons, Charles and George.
When Foster and Connie set up their view home in Otter Point, many historical features were featured there, components acquired from stately homes demolished in Victoria.
After the loss of Sooke’s original Holy Trinity Church, the Isherwoods were highly involved in building the new church, with Canon Connie taking part in the consecration in 2007.
After her husband died in 2011, Connie continued to drive from Otter Point to her Victoria office, only moving to a Broadmead home a couple of years ago.
In 2015, UBC recognized Connie with an honourary doctorate, and in 2016 it was the Law Society of B.C. that honoured her with a lifetime achievement award.
Liz Johnson, the rector’s warden of Holy Trinity Church, shares her memories: “Connie, a canon of the Anglican Church and longtime chancellor of the Diocese of British Columbia, was for many years a member of Holy Trinity. Always a willing participant in church events, she loved a party and celebrated her 100th birthday with a champagne lunch at Holy Trinity just a year ago. She was much loved and respected and will be sorely missed by everyone. It was a privilege to know her.”
Marie and Tom Lott were close to Connie and remember her this way: “A remarkable lady, Connie Isherwood died recently only a few days after her 101st birthday. More remarkable, it was only a couple of hours after she arrived home from work. She will be missed by everyone who knew her, but in Sooke, most especially by Holy Trinity Anglican Church. She was a great volunteer in raising money and particularly enjoyed cutting the monthly birthday cake where she could say hello to everyone. She volunteered at the Subaru Triathlon, supported the annual Harvest Dinners, hosted an annual Hot Dog Day to raise money for Camp Columbia, and was active at every church function, including dancing at the annual Mexican Festival. A great listener, she would help anyone who needed it regardless of financial status, and she did it all with a smile on her face. Parishioners will forever remember that positive outlook that was Constance Isherwood.”
Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.