18th Annual J.B. McLachlan Memorial Series to Celebrate Jane B. Wisdom

Cape Breton University will present the eighteenth annual J.B. McLachlan Memorial lecture series on November 24, 2016, in partnership with the Old Sydney Society. Beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Lyceum, this year’s presentation will focus on the life and contributions of Jane Wisdom, one of Canada’s pioneering social workers. The presentation, by Suzanne Morton, a visiting Professor from McGill University in Montreal, will explore the impact Wisdom had on social change.

“Jane Wisdom’s career is remarkable on many levels. She was inspired and enraged by the same industrial communities as J.B. McLachlan,” says Morton. “She sought dramatic social change too, albeit of a different kind. Her career reminds us that social welfare in Canada was not built by politicians, bureaucrats, and labour unions alone. It was achieved at the local level in communities such as Sydney and Glace Bay by professional social workers on the ground – like Wisdom — trying to find solutions to real problems.”

Jane B. Wisdom spent two decisive periods of her career in place in Cape Breton. In the summer of 1922, she came to Cape Breton to research the households of the coal miners and wrote under the pseudonym of “Observer” a series of newspaper columns that provided an intimate firsthand account of the famous strike. In 1941, she returned to Glace Bay when its council in an innovative response to the challenge of local welfare hired the first professional municipal social worker in Nova Scotia. Her work in Glace Bay during 1941-52 was marked by great activity as that community attempted to deal with dramatic postwar challenges.

“The J.B. McLachlan Memorial lecture is one of the highlights of the academic year at CBU,” says Andy Parnaby, Associate Professor of History and department chair. “It provides an opportunity to bring the community and university together and reflect – in the spirit of J.B. McLachlan – on the history of labour and the working class, and contemporary issues we face as an island and nation.”

The annual J.B. McLachlan Memorial Lecture honours the life and legacy of one of Cape Breton’s and Canada’s finest labour leaders. J.B. McLachlan was a Scottish immigrant and coal miner who arrived in Cape Breton in 1902 and helped lead District 26 of the United Mine Workers of America until he died in 1937. This year’s talk is held in conjunction with the Old Sydney Society, which is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary. It is free and open to the public.

24 November 2016
7:30 pm
Lyceum Building, 225 George Street.