OUR HISTORY: Park named after Mission’s first woman mayor

  • Feb. 24, 2011 6:00 a.m.

Ethel Ogle, nee Burnham, was born in Manitoba. Her family moved to Mission in 1908 when she was three years old, and she attended school here. She was a member of the Comet Club, and part of a youth group that ran canteens at local recreation events.According to The Fraser Valley Record, she helped to organize a “strike” of local girls, who grew so irate at their winter-time boyfriends that they delivered an ultimatum: “If the boys insist on courting girls from the fields during berry picking season, then the town girls refuse to date them in the winter, spring and fall — a number of Mission lads succumbed to this boycotting pressure.”One of her early jobs was piling fruit for shipping from the Mission railway station, where she met her future husband, Victor, who was a telegraph operator, and later worked at Mission post office. In the 1930s, Ethel was treasurer of the Mission Agricultural Association, and active in planning the annual Fall Fair. During the Second World War, she applied her organizing skills to the Red Cross clothing and welfare committee, and was later on the Mission Hospital Board for nine years, and was active in the Royal Purple Grand Lodge. At one time, she worked for The Fraser Valley Record.After serving as alderwoman from 1957 to 1960, Ethel was elected as Mission’s first woman mayor in 1960, and served in that position until 1966. During her term, she supported the planning and design of Centennial Park and Welton Towers.In 1973, Ethel Ogle was named citizen of the year and a neighbourhood park was dedicated in her honour. The area, previously owned by Bill Norrish, was developed under the Assisted Home Ownership Program (AHOP). Ethel had a lifelong interest in affordable housing, and the location seemed a natural choice. She was involved in the construction phase of Welton Towers.Ethel received the Freeman of the City Award, the highest honour available to a local citizen, in recognition of her decades of service. Ethel died in 1979. In 1996, she was acknowledged by the Mission Community Archives Paths and Pathfinders program.In 1999, new playground equipment valued at over $11,000 was installed in the park. In June the following year, firefighters were called to douse a blaze that destroyed the playground, which had to be dismantled.A Century of Conservation: Mission’s Parks and Cultural Spaces exhibit is still showing at the Mission Art Gallery this week. On Saturday, Feb. 26, from 2 to 4 p.m., drop in to share your memories and learn more about the history of our parks.Sharon Syrette will be writing a number of columns on Mission parks and trails history in recognition of BC Heritage Week’s theme of parks and nature preserves.

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