Ann Elmore Haig-Brown with the 1965 staff at Carihi. She is the second from the left in the front row. Photo Courtesy Museum at Campbell River

Ann Elmore Haig-Brown

‘…better read than most professors … altogether confidently and securely of the great world’

By Beth Boyce, Curator, Museum at Campbell River

Ann Haig-Brown is known in Campbell River for her many contributions to this community.

She worked tirelessly with the John Howard Society, the Women’s Transition House, the Catholic Women’s League and Parents in Crisis, as well as nearly countless other local societies and groups focusing on social justice, mental health, education, women and youth. In spite of all this, she is perhaps best known, and most fondly remembered, for her role as the Librarian at Carihi from 1960 until 1973.

As a young girl, Ann was a brilliant scholar, graduating high school two years ahead of her class at the age of sixteen and later graduating summa cum laude from Berkley University. Following graduation, she began working at a prominent bookstore in Seattle, where she managed their library of circulating books and wrote articles for their monthly newsletter.

This is where she met her husband, author Roderick Haig-Brown.

During their marriage, he often praised her intellectual abilities, writing in 1950 in his book Measure of the Year, “fifteen years ago Ann was a city girl, only a little while out of university and developing nicely in her job in one of the best bookstores on the Pacific Coast. She was a convinced intellectual, better read than most professors of English, altogether confidently and securely of the great world.”

Although her formal studies ceased after graduating from University, she never stopped her pursuit of knowledge. She was always reading, and according to family friend Diana Kretz, had a photographic memory.

Although initially unsure about taking on the role of Librarian at the high school, worrying that she lacked the proper credentials, she thrived in the role.

David Brown, a friend and co-worker at Carihi remembered, “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 the 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 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 Saturdays.”

To learn more about this amazing woman who impacted so many lives, come to the Museum to see the temporary exhibition, Ann Elmore Haig-Brown on display until June 9.

In addition, the Museum is hosting a public event on Ann Elmore Haig-Brown Day, Friday May 3, with tours of the Haig-Brown Heritage House taking place every 15 minutes from 10 until 12, admission by donation, and a free public event at the museum in the afternoon from 2-4 which will include a tea, an opportunity to share your memories of Ann and watch the Living History documentary Remembering Ann Elmore Haig-Brown produced by the Museum in partnership with the Campbell River Arts Council and Shaw TV in 2009.