The Hackings’ South Vancouver Childhood

Normal School

In June 1926, Katie completed Junior Matriculation (Grade XI). There does not appear to have been a Senior Matriculation (Grade XII) offered at South Vancouver High School at this time. Katie continued with first year university courses at the University of British Columbia, with the goal of attaining teacher training at the Provincial Normal School in Vancouver. Many prospective trainee teachers were getting more education. A 1927 news item noted “It is significant that a larger proportion of the students attending this year had either Senior Matriculation or First Year University standing upon entering. During the last two or three years there has been a small over supply of teachers and it is timely that candidates should aim to increase their academic standing before going into the professional side of teacher’s work.”

Catherine Louisa Hacking, Vancouver Normal School graduation photo 1928

In September 1927, Katie Hacking travelled from 47th Avenue, South Vancouver to 12th and Cambie, Vancouver and entered the Provincial Normal School for a year of teacher training. Katie was one of 192 students (155 women) who attained their teaching qualifications. [The Vancouver Sun June 19 1928, Normal School Results: Passed: Catherine Louisa Hacking]

A few years later, Cassie Hacking attended Vancouver Normal School, where she was an active extra-curricular student.

What they did next

After Katie got her first class teaching certificate, she found there was no work in Vancouver schools, so she went off to teach in a one-roomed school in rural Alberta. “Dust and squawking chickens”, she recalled years later. In 1929, Katie got job in the two-roomed Tofino School. She launched herself into west coast village life, especially as an amateur thespian. Read more about Katie Hacking’s Tofino teaching and vaudeville experiences in “The King of the Cannibal Isles”. Katie quit teaching after she married in 1934 and helped her husband run an Imperial Oil marine gas station in Tofino. Katie was very active in community affairs, on the board of the Co-op Grocery, with the Church and Legion Auxiliary, and especially in fundraising to build the Tofino hospital.

In 1930, Doris got closer to her goal of working in home economics. She was elated to work with the Electrical Service League of B.C.: “Her job was to sell and promote the new indirect lighting fixtures which were fast replacing the ubiquitous bare bulbs,” writes her daughter Ruth. Wearing a smart suit and hat and carrying a 25lb pound bag, Doris travelled around the city by street car, demonstrating lights at customers’ homes. While in the showroom, she enjoyed doing small repairs on lamps and small appliances. Eventually, Doris was thrilled to be hired by Miss Jean Mutch [trained home economist and dietitian] in the new B.C. Electric Home Service. Doris tested recipes, answered thousands of phone call questions and went to houses to test bake cakes in new appliances. “These were Doris’ happiest working years and where her talents were used.”

Cassie taught school and music until 1942/43. Then, working as a clerk at the B.C. Electric head office, it occurred to her that she could become an accountant (considered “man’s work”). Cassie apprenticed for 5 years with Price Waterhouse. In December 1949, Cassie Hacking was one of two women admitted into the B.C. Institute of Chartered Accountants (and one of only four women chartered accountants in British Columbia!) In 1950, Cassie went to work for Price Waterhouse in London, England. Quoted in a 1950 newspaper article, she said: “I’m always surprised when people ask why I went into this work. A person’s sex shouldn’t make any difference.”

The Hacking sisters in 1937. Left-Right: Katie (Hacking) Monks, Cassie Hacking with nephew Harold Frank Monks, Harold Monks, Doris Hacking.

Thank you to Ruth Crookall for sharing family photographs and taking the time to share her Mum’s memories of childhood and early working experiences. Doris Hacking Crookall’s story is told further in Gaslights to Gigawatts: A Human History of BC Hydro and its Predecessors (Andrew Wilson, editor)