Teachers' Welfare

The Public School acts made no mention of teachers' welfare, since teachers were expected to be more or less self-sufficient. Teachers could, of course, turn to the Superintendent of Education or to School Inspectors for advice on educational and administrative matters, but generally they functioned without formal support networks. Novice teachers, appointed to isolated rural or assisted schools, often faced particularly difficult conditions. To ameliorate the situation, the Department of Education established a Teachers' Bureau in 1921.

The Teachers' Bureau was first and foremost an employment exchange - a kind of clearing house for school districts seeking teachers and teachers seeking employment. However, J. L. Watson, the registrar responsible for the Bureau, made some attempt to monitor the living and working conditions of teachers who were stationed in remote areas. To this end, he devised a series of questions which were sent to teachers in rural and assisted schools in 1923 and 1928. The questionnaires, generally known as "Teacher Bureau forms" are catalogued in the British Columbia Archives as GR 461.

The Teachers' Bureau aimed to match the right teacher with the right school district. But it was often difficult to effect an ideal match, especially in remote rural school districts where the local community was particularly parochial in its outlook and disposition.

In 1929, following the suicide of Mabel Jones, a young woman teacher who had been harassed by local school trustees at Lake Cowichan, the Department of Education appointed a Rural Teachers' Welfare Officer. Lottie Bowron filled the position ably until her position was abolished by the new Liberal government of T. D. Pattullo in 1934.