DREVER, JEAN ANNE (Pinkham), community organizer; b. 6 May 1849 in Lower Fort Garry (Man.), daughter of William Drever and Helen Rothney (Rothnie); m. 29 Dec. 1868 William Cyprian Pinkham (1844–1928) in Upper Fort Garry (Winnipeg), and they had eight children, of whom three boys and four girls survived infancy; d. 1 Feb. 1940 in Calgary.
In her reminiscences Jean Drever Pinkham would call herself a prairie “old timer”; others remembered her as a gifted leader and a “gracious chatelaine.” Born to Scottish Presbyterian parents in Lower Fort Garry, she spent almost 91 years in western Canada. Her father, William Drever, was an Orkneyman who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company and eventually settled in the Red River colony (Man.), where he married in 1843. After leaving the HBC in 1851, he became a successful merchant. His wife, Helen, raised six children in difficult frontier conditions, emphasizing religious faith, British education, generosity, and hospitality. Since there was no Presbyterian church in the settlement, the Drevers attended Church of England services. Their four daughters boarded at Mathilda Davis*’s school in the Anglican parish of St Andrews, where they studied English, French, music, drawing, dancing, needlework, and deportment. Generally, Jean recalled, “we girls had a very pleasant life in a simple and friendly way. I have often, when hearing of a dance, begun to make a muslin or tarleton dress in the morning and worn it at night, and that without the help of a sewing machine.” Following the sudden death of her mother in 1866, Jean assumed the care of her father, the elder of her two brothers (the younger had died earlier the same year), and her two sisters who remained at home. During the Red River uprising of 1869–70 the family would have “a very anxious and trying time,” she later wrote, her father and brother being “well known Loyalists” and subject to harassment by Louis Riel*’s forces. The family enjoyed good relations with the Plains First Nations, who in the early years were among their few neighbours and whom they found to be, in Jean’s words, “very well behaved.” On one occasion when her father was sick, “they surrounded the house, singing and shouting, my mother was alarmed …, they told her they had heard he was ill and were trying to drive out the ‘bad spirit.’”
A tall, striking 19-year-old, Jean impressed William Cyprian Pinkham, an energetic and well-educated Anglican missionary from Newfoundland who arrived in September 1868 to serve the diocese of Rupert’s Land in St James parish. He received a warm welcome from the Drevers, and married Jean three months later. Throughout their long union Pinkham felt blessed. Jean shared his spiritual faith and embraced the challenges presented by the frontier communities he served. With a strong personality and outstanding leadership ability, she made, as her husband’s biographer notes, “the ideal clergyman’s wife,” one who demonstrated enthusiasm, a social conscience, and remarkable independence. The young Jean knew little about the duties expected of her, she confessed in her reminiscences, but she “put on a brave front,” teaching Sunday school, conducting a needlework class for girls, presiding over mothers’ meetings, and visiting the sick. Her responsibilities grew as her husband’s career advanced. Pinkham became a member, under the chairmanship of his bishop, Robert Machray*, of the Protestant section of the Board of Education of Manitoba, superintendent of Protestant schools, secretary to the Anglican synod, canon of St John’s Cathedral in Winnipeg, and archdeacon of the diocese. Jean helped found the diocesan Woman’s Auxiliary and taught sewing to pupils from St John’s College Ladies’ School after it opened in 1877. Later described as “a fine mother,” she gave birth to eight children, seven of them in Manitoba. The death in infancy of her first child focused her attention on health care. A passion for community hospitals guided her work as a founding vice-president and later president of the Women’s Hospital Aid Society, organized in 1883 to help support the Winnipeg General Hospital. Among her other interests in the late 1880s was the Children’s Home of Winnipeg.
In 1887 her popular husband was chosen to succeed John McLean* in the see of Saskatchewan. Shortly afterwards, he was asked by Lieutenant Governor Edgar Dewdney* to serve on the Board of Education for the North-West Territories, and at its first meeting he was elected chairman. As a bishop, he developed a reputation for moderation, “accepting a diversity of views among his clergy,” according to historian Lewis Gwynne Thomas, favouring neither the strongly evangelical nor the high-church stream. Likewise Jean espoused both moderation in religion and diplomacy within the parish and her family. She and the children moved west in 1889, a year after Pinkham received an additional appointment as bishop of Calgary (he would resign the see of Saskatchewan in 1903).
In Calgary, Jean became a valuable community leader and popular hostess. The Church of the Redeemer, which had opened in 1884, grew with the town; in 1889 it was designated the pro-cathedral of the diocese. Jean, who encouraged her daughters to take leadership roles in church work, served as first president of the pro-cathedral’s Woman’s Auxiliary from 1891 to 1904, and in 1920 she would initiate its Girls’ Branch. By that time she was honorary president of the diocesan WA. Well known for her excellent cooking, she hosted in her home weddings, dinners, and meetings of church groups such as the Women’s Guild and the Mothers’ Union (she at different times headed both organizations). She recalled “making fifteen pounds of butter into pies” for a social at the parish hall and carving 12 turkeys for a fund-raising event. In 1890 she not only headed a women’s group that collected money to establish the Calgary General Hospital but also organized the Women’s Hospital Aid Society, of which she would be president until 1901, to equip, maintain, and enlarge it. In 1897 her eldest daughter died in childbirth, a loss that no doubt propelled her into greater efforts to raise the revenue necessary to build a maternity hospital and nursing home connected to the CGH. Jean supported the bishop’s educational plans and was excited when he received permission from his ecclesiastical superiors to create a school for girls in Calgary, the only Protestant girls’ school in the territories. From this early beginning in education grew St Hilda’s College, opened in 1905, and Bishop Pinkham College for boys, which took in its first students in 1911.
Jean’s own children grew up surrounded by a large and influential extended family in a series of residences that she (no doubt tongue in cheek) referred to as “palatial.” Each was called Bishop’s Court. Her two younger sisters lived in Calgary: Mary Isabella, who had married James Farquharson Macleod*, commissioner of the North-West Mounted Police, and Christian Helen, the wife of John Pascoe Jermy Jephson, a prominent lawyer. Elder sister Margaret had married the Anglican missionary John Alexander Mackay* and resided in Saskatchewan. In addition to family and friends, the Pinkhams’ lively abode welcomed many international visitors. Jean also led an active social life outside her home, frequenting local ranches such as the Cochrane Ranche [see Matthew Henry Cochrane*] and pursuing a variety of hobbies. One photograph shows her playing field hockey with her youngest daughter in Banff.
As time went by, her associational commitments grew to include national organizations. When Lady Aberdeen [Marjoribanks] visited Calgary in 1894, she enlisted Jean and her close friend Isabella Clark Lougheed [Hardisty] to assist in inaugurating a local branch of the National Council of Women of Canada. Founded the following year, it was short-lived but would be resuscitated in 1912 through the efforts of Henrietta Louise Muir Edwards. In 1909 both Jean and Belle Lougheed were also involved in establishing a chapter of the Victorian Order of Nurses for Canada, another of Lady Aberdeen’s initiatives, and that same year Jean was made first regent, and Belle first vice-regent, of the Colonel Macleod Chapter of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire. In 1911 Jean became a charter member of the Calgary Women’s Canadian Club as well. During World War I she helped create the Alberta branch of the Canadian Red Cross Society in 1914 and acted as the province’s vice-president on the Canadian Serbian Relief Committee, receiving for this service Serbia’s Order of St Sava, 3rd class, and its Cross of Mercy. Sadly, her youngest son, Captain Ernest Frederick John Vernon Pinkham, was killed at the battle of the Somme in 1916 while serving with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
Throughout their long lives Jean and her husband acquired many honours, such as an invitation to attend the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. Arriving in London just before the ceremony, Jean had little time to buy a suitable outfit or make a booking with a hairdresser. Ever the resourceful pioneer woman, she altered a new dress using safety pins and personally arranged her hair. Her husband, who resigned from his bishopric in 1926, died two years later; the elderly matriarch, viewed by some as a formidable and domineering presence, survived him for almost 12 years, living with daughters Mary Isabella Ross and Margaret Pauline Christian. At a special Sunday service on 26 Jan. 1936 she witnessed the installation of new stained-glass windows in the pro-cathedral. Donated by Richard Bedford Bennett*, a long-time friend, the windows depict the former bishop as St Cyprian and, in commemoration of her public work, portray Jean as Martha of Bethany. A biblical verse on Jean and Cyprian’s Calgary gravestone echoes the theme of practical charity: “And I heard a voice from Heaven saying unto me write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from Henceforth[:] yea, saieth the spirit[,] that they may rest from their labours and their works do follow them.”
The original typescript of Jean Anne Drever (Pinkham)’s memoirs is held in the Univ. of Calgary Library, Special Coll., 76/74.9.SOR80.9 (Anglican Church of Canada, Diocese of Calgary fonds, Synod Office records, ser.3: general files, 80.9 (“Reminiscences of an old timer” – Mrs. W. C. (Jean) Pinkham. ca. 1930)). A copy is available at GA, Pinkham family fonds, M 977. She first published the memoirs in the Calgary Herald, 8, 15, 22, 29 Nov., 6, 13 Dec. 1924. Excerpts have been issued in three parts as “Selections from the unpublished recollections of Mrs. W. C. Pinkham,” Manitoba Pageant (Winnipeg), 19 (1973–74), no.2: 21–23, and no.3: 19–22; and 20 (1974–75), no.1: 11–17; and in two parts as “Reminiscences of an old timer,” Manitoba Hist. (Winnipeg), no.20 (autumn 1990): 16–20, and no.21 (spring 1991): 13–16. William Cyprian Pinkham’s memoirs are also held at GA, Pinkham family fonds, in M 978-1; they have been published in part as “Selections from the unpublished autobiography of the Right Rev. William Cyprian Pinkham (1844–1928), first bishop of Calgary,” intro. D. J. Carter, Manitoba Pageant, 19, no.1: 12–20.
Calgary Public Library, Clippings file Pinkham, Jean Drever. GA, Pinkham family fonds. Univ. of Calgary Library, Special Coll., 76/74.9.213 and 76/74.9.SOR25 (Anglican Church of Canada, Diocese of Calgary fonds, Women’s Auxiliary/Anglican Church Women records). C. W. Adams et al., The Anglican Church in Calgary: church activities, 1878–1974, ed. Herb Surplis (Calgary, 1975). Doris Anderson, “Encounter,” Beaver (Winnipeg), 84 (2004–5), no.4: 53. D. J. Carter, Calgary’s Anglican cathedral: the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer, Calgary, Alberta ([Calgary], 1973); Where the wind blows: a history of the Anglican diocese of Calgary, 1888–1968 (Calgary, ). Sherrill MacLaren, Braehead: three founding families in nineteenth century Canada (Toronto, 1986). A. M. Pinkham, “A summer at the Macleod ranch,” Alberta Hist. (Calgary), 45 (1997), no.2: 18–23. Julie Sribney, The Cathedral Church of the Redeemer: 100 years (Calgary, 2005). L. G. Thomas, “The Church of England and the Canadian west,” in The Anglican Church and the world of western Canada, 1820–1970, ed. Barry Ferguson (Regina, 1991), 16–28. Keith Wilson, William Cyprian Pinkham (Winnipeg, 1986).
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Cite This Article
Patricia Roome, “DREVER, JEAN ANNE (Pinkham),” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 8, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/drever_jean_anne_16E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||Patricia Roome|
|Title of Article:||DREVER, JEAN ANNE (Pinkham)|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||2020|
|Year of revision:||2020|
|Access Date:||June 8, 2023|