Western Canada’s Oldest Registered Non-profit Society
The Cridge Centre for the Family is western Canada’s oldest registered non-profit society and is proud of its rich history.
Our founders Bishop Edward Cridge and his wife Mary, outstanding pioneers of Victoria, came to Victoria as Chaplain of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1855. The Bishop opened Christ Church, the first Anglican church in B.C., and later becoming its Dean. In 1874, with a large number of Victoria pioneers, he formed The Church of Our Lord, which opened its doors in January 1876, Cridge having become a bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church.
Bishop Cridge is sometimes described as Victoria’s first social worker. Along with his wife Mary, he pioneered many social and cultural causes in the city, including taking the initiative which led to the creation of the Royal Jubilee Hospital. An anti-racist and champion of education, Cridge served as the first superintendent of education and his wife taught the first Sunday school. His wife Mary, with others, took in orphan children which led to the founding of the BC Protestant Orphan’s Home in 1873.
This remarkable and much-loved couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1904. Together they had 9 children, 5 of whom survived to adulthood and settled in the Victoria area. Descendants of Bishop and Mary Cridge continue to play a vital role in the organization to this day. Mary Cridge died in 1905, and Bishop Cridge passed away in 1913 at the age of 96.
One of the many citizens of Victoria who supported the Home was John George Taylor. This retired policeman and former gold prospector demonstrated his spirit of compassion by leaving his entire fortune to the Home when he died in 1891. His generous bequest enabled the organization to buy a beautiful property and build a new 100-bed orphanage.
The Home was well run and at present-day Orphanage reunions, many of those who lived there in years past still recall the loving care which they received there. There is a fascinating book called “The Home” which tells much of the history of the Cridge family and of the orphanage. Email Linda Zwick at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (250) 995-6402 to order a copy.
In the 1960s, the B.C. Protestant Orphans’ Home underwent a radical change. It took a new name – The Cridge Centre for the Family – and completely changed its program of activities. From being an institution which cared for children without families, it became an organization offering support for families. The orphanage building was converted into a day care centre and new townhouses were built for families in economic crisis. The goal was to provide a range of community support services which would give single parents a better chance in life. These services continue today, although within a greatly expanded organization, and have proved to be a very valuable stepping-stone to many families.