Teachers' Professional Associations

John Jessop, the Superintendent of Education, organized British Columbia's first Teachers' Institute in 1874. The Institute was intended to promote effective teaching methods and improve classroom administration. Meetings of the Teachers' Institute were held annually until 1916 and proceedings were often noted in the Annual Reports of the Public Schools.

Professional associations that were independent of the Education Department developed later on, beginning with the Victoria Teachers' Association (1885), the New Westminster Teachers' Institute (1886), the Kootenay Teachers' Institute (1899), and the Vancouver Teachers' Association (1914). In 1917, these local and regional associations formed the British Columbia Teachers' Federation, which was incorporated under the Benevolent Societies Act two years later.

The objectives of the British Columbia Teachers' Federation were to promote the welfare of teachers and to raise the status of the teachers' profession. The Federation succeeded in improving wages, introducing arbitration procedures for settling salary disputes, and establishing a province-wide superannuation plan for teachers. Unfortunately, it did little to advance the cause of rural teachers who were traditionally paid less than city and municipal teachers. The BCTF was instrumental, however, in reducing discriminatory practices affecting the largest group in the teaching profession-women. In 1945, the federation successfully challenged the common practice of local school boards that required women to resign their posts upon marriage.