Facts about early EFry and Manor

Writer seeks to clarify and add to knowledge of local services.

Dear Editor

Time has a habit of revising histories. I just want to set the record straight about the Elizabeth Fry Society’s establishment in Ashcroft.

In 1985, I believe it was, Sharon Bach of Ashcroft, whose husband had done some time back east years before, told me there was a need for an E. Fry Society in Ashcroft. Her husband worked with Ross Darlington, my late former husband. They were both employed as millwrights at the Highland Valley mine.

To get an E. Fry Society established here, money was needed for an office. Sharon and I canvassed all the organizations, explaining the function of E. Fry, to assist women and families in conflict with the law. The other functions, outlined in Wendy Coomber’s excellent article, were also noted. We went to a number of groups asking for funding. I can’t recall them all. We received enough money to rent a small office in the building which had once been our Lady Minto Hospital, and has since become the Village of Ashcroft office, and OAP meeting room. At that time too, a day care facility was conducted in the basement of the building. That will account for the wire fence still standing there.

Dolly Lowe of Ashcroft was appointed chair, after a hand vote, of the Society. To begin with, there were less than a dozen members. At that point however, the  mandate of E. Fry was uncertain. So Sharon Bach was asked to attend an E. Fry national conference being held in Edmonton, I believe. We needed the mandate information to qualify for financial support from the national body. She returned after attending this conference and advised us the conditions under which E. Fry could operate. One of them, of course, was dealing directly with women in conflict with the law, and the preventive and supportive measures needed to be undertaken by E. Fry. As a result of this information, Mrs. Lowe resigned, and Doris Bruno was appointed chair of the Society.

I resigned myself from E. Fry, but was glad when the Society’s mandate was being carried out as outlined by the  national body.

The small office that was initially rented from the village was eventually vacated, and E. Fry found a more suitable space in the location it is in now.

As for the Thompson View Manor, I attended the opening ceremonies when I had my newspaper, the Pioneer. The late Mario Battel and the late Joe Riech were the builders, and the late Oscar Johansen, then Postmaster and a former Mayor of Ashcroft and the Kiwanis group was instrumental in getting the funding. It was a major project. The community was more than grateful for the hard work that had to be done to achieve this fine facility, of which I am  now a grateful tenant. I took pictures of the opening of course, and they must be in the Ashcroft Museum archives. I believe the opening of the Manor was held in 1981.

I’m glad I’ve lived long enough to clarify these points and hope that they will be duly noted in the archives and records involved.

Esther Darlington MacDonald


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