“I think my past has helped shaped my attitude at work today, because I learned life isn’t about theory or a belief system, it’s about how you treat people,” says Cathy English, curator of the Revelstoke Museum and Archives. “I’m part of the community here to help and facilitate.”
While most people associate English as a human encyclopedia of knowledge about Revelstoke history, English’s own past is one of being immersed in social justice. It started when she became a Youth Coordinator for the United Nations Association. English sat in on large scale UN conferences, listening to social advocates like Mother Teresa and Morris Stowing. English and her husband joined the Christian Task Force, a group dedicated to social justice in Central America. While English isn’t a central figure in any current social justice groups, she remains on the fringes with a keen interest.
So it is no surprise that last year while researching Revelstoke’s suffragettes, English felt inspired by their efforts for equality. One woman in particular, Florence Lashley Hall, resonated with English.
“I was moved by Florence Lashley Hall,” she explains. “She’s heroic because she was so passionate. She was articulate and intelligent when it came to getting her point across.”
Florence Lashley Hall moved to Revelstoke from Vancouver, where she had been the president of the Vancouver Political Equality League. Coming to the remote interior did not lesson her involvement with the cause of women’s rights at a provincial level, and Lashley Hall also took her fight local. She was tasked a provincial organizer for the BC Political Equality Branch, working to organized less settled areas of British Columbia. Lashley Hall was also the president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the largest non-denominational women’s organization in the 19th century.
“She encouraged women to campaign to vote,” English says, “while engaging with men about the necessity to have women voters.”
The wife of methodist minister William Lashley Hall, who supported her fight for rights, Florence Lashley-Hall died young but is remembered by history.
“When you care about people and how they are treated you learn one of the most important things in life,” reflects English. “It’s not all about you.”