Memories of Ann is a new column intended to celebrate the life and legacy of
Ann Elmore Haig-Brown. 2008 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of
both Roderick and Ann Haig-Brown. To celebrate this Centenary year, the
Courier Islander, in partnership with the Museum at Campbell River, is
publishing a series of personal accounts of Ann Elmore Haig-Brown submitted
by members of the community. These articles aim to raise awareness of Ann's
contributions to Campbell River, leading up to her birthday on May 3rd, Ann
Elmore Haig-Brown Day.
This memory has been submitted by David Brown.
First of all, I always called her Mrs. Haig-Brown, even though we were
colleagues and good friends for more than two decades. It was akin to the
fact that you would never call the Queen just plain Elizabeth.
She was the librarian at Carihi and I think we both started there about the
same time; the mid sixties. I had read Starbuck Valley Winter and Saltwater
Summer when I was in my early teens so it was a mutual connection.
And what a librarian she was! It did not take long for kids to realize that
this was THE PLACE to be in the school. It was not just about books
organized on shelves, it was about the excitement of reading and talking
about books. She seemed to know something about every book in the place and
was often heard to say, "My dear, you just have to read this", whether it
was to one of the staff or a grade 11 or 12 student. She must have been the
first librarian to have a high school library open during some evenings and
She was always bringing to the attention of staff pertinent articles in
professional and curriculum related journals. I have two fond recollections
of this. The first stemmed from the halcyon days of education with
principal John Young and progressive School Board chairman Bruce Saunders.
So there was sufficient money in the budget for a library that was valued
as the center piece of the school. As a result, in the science area, there
were the prestigious periodicals like Scientific American, Nature, and
Science. She would hand me the latest edition to read. In some cases the
abstract of the article was about the only part I could understand! The
second recollection was about the day she handed me a rather thick, damp and
heavy version of one periodical with her usual admonition. My query about
the state of the magazine was answered with "I often read in the bathtub and
must have dozed off."
I often was at the house as we had many gatherings in their library just to
discuss education topics and great books. Rod and I would also make fall
snorkeling trips down the river, which was another very special time to
visit and talk about the day's events, around the kitchen table, which was
pretty much covered with articles and clippings earmarked for kids and
One day in late fall, not too long before she died, we went for walk along
the fairly new, re-directed Kingfisher Creek. Any offer of help along the
trail was met with "I'm not some little old lady in tennis shoes you know!"
The sight of big Coho spawning and dying was the catalyst for a memorable
conversation with a great lady.
Mrs. Haig-Brown was warrior for social justice, especially for women, and
this is embodied in her legacy, the Ann Elmore Transition House.
She helped to shape my perspective on life and I thank her for it.