A Woman Helped

Candace Stretch: Assistant Manager of Women’s Services

I had a call from Sophie, a woman desperate for help as she supported a friend who is at high risk of violence at the hands of her partner. Sophie was so worried about her friend that she called police, victim services, and several women-serving agencies. Essentially she was told that there was nothing they could do for her friend unless the friend called them directly. By the time she got through to me, Sophie was feeling hopeless and exhausted.

Thank God for our website, because I was able to direct her to the safety planning documents that we have posted in the Cridge Transition House for Women Resources section. These documents serve as a guideline for anyone who wants to help a woman create a safety plan. I also told Sophie about our 24 crisis line and asked her to give her friend the number. I encouraged Sophie to find a time when her friend might agree to meet with our outreach worker.

Sophie told me at the end of that conversation that she got more help from The Cridge than from any other place she had called that day. Honestly, I did not do anything special- I simply gave her some tools to walk away with. I don’t think that these tools will 100% solve the problem, but at least it’s a start!

Click here to see resources

scarlet fever

Scarlet Fever in Fort Victoria

by Monica Hammond

Scarlet fever hit Victoria in 1864 and 1865. Mary and Edward Cridge lost four children during that tragic time: Frederick, who was a 10-month-old baby when he died; Edward, aged 7 years; Eber, who was 6 years old; and little Grace, aged two.

A few years later, in 1868, many children in Victoria were once again dying of communicable diseases. Even though the Cridges were no doubt still grieving the loss of four of their own children three years earlier, they offered comfort to the families who were now losing children to disease.

The Cridges’ remaining children were also battling illness – colds, measles, and whooping cough. Their daughter Rhoda was especially ill, suffering from convulsions. She survived, along with her brother Richard. The Cridges went on to have three more children.

The resilience of Mary and Edward Cridge through these difficult times is a true testament to their faith and determination, which manifested itself in so many ways during the early years of the city of Victoria.

This piece is based on the work of Vernon Storey, Terry Worobetz and Henry Kennedy in their book The Home: Orphans’ Home to Family Centre: 1873 to 1998. Copies of the book are available for purchase at The Cridge Centre for the Family.

Blue Sheet Club

by Greg Goldberg — Founder of The Blue Sheet Club

The Blue Sheet Club is a group that meets weekly at Mary Cridge Manor, and is a program of The Cridge Centre for the Family Brain Injury Services. At The Blue Sheet Club, we strive to improve the quality of life for those impacted by brain injury. We look to provide strategies to improve their abilities after an injury.

A guideline for The Blue Sheet Club is that survivors are to be respected and honored for the challenges they are dealing with and be provided with strategies to realize their untapped potential to live as accepted individuals while being a part of a strong, loving and understanding community.

Pat Day is a survivor who is striving as a result of his participation at the Blue Sheet Club. Pat, 62, is a stroke survivor who suffers from apraxia (a speech disorder in which a person has trouble saying what he wants to say correctly and consistently) and is paralyzed on the right side of his body, seriously impairing his mobility.

For several years, Pat has been participating in The Blue Sheet Club.  As a recipient of this service, he has improved immensely through social interaction and taking part in a variety of field trips with other survivors, developing strong friendships along the way. He has regained confidence as his social skills and speech improve, making it easier to communicate his thoughts and desires.

“Coming to the Blue Sheet Club on a regular basis keeps me busy and productive. That wouldn’t happen if I stayed at home all day.” says Pat.

As well, Pat has experienced a vast improvement in his reading skills. When asked about further pursuing his reading goals, he commented, “I hope to get more comfortable reading aloud because reading to myself now is a cinch. Practice, practice, practice.”

As no two brain injuries are alike, survivors experience different impairments, strengths and / or deficits.  At The Cridge Centre for the Family Brain Injury Services – Blue Sheet Club, we support survivors where they are at.  They may be encountering challenging physical, mental and / or emotional impairments.  No matter.  The only thing that members of The Blue Sheet Club need to do is participate, share their smiles and thoughts of new hope, and be inspired for their recovery which will lead to a productive life once again.  And as Pat has demonstrated despite challenging setbacks, with the right attitude, all survivors of a brain injury can succeed.




Racism in early Victoria

by Monica Hammond

35 Africans who were on board the steamship Commodore, which pulled into Victoria Harbour in April 1858, decided to make Victoria their home. Edward Cridge visited the ship and discovered that one of the families was Christian. He invited them to join his congregation at Christ Church.

This shocked some of the members of the congregation. One letter to the editor of the Gazette referred to the parishioners being insulted “by crowding negro men into the same seats with white and respectable women” (The Home: p. 27). Other angry letters to the editor followed, some submitted anonymously.

Edward Cridge responded, in his own letter to the editor, saying that he thought little of racist statements and that he would say so in any discussion promoting racism.

Actions like these, which weren’t popular with everyone, show that Edward and Mary Cridge were determined to champion the rights of all residents of their new community of Victoria.

This piece is based on the work of Vernon Storey, Terry Worobetz and Henry Kennedy in their book The Home: Orphans’ Home to Family Centre: 1873 to 1998. Copies of the book are available for purchase at The Cridge Centre for the Family.

Royal Jubilee Hospital

The Cridges and the Royal Jubilee Hospital

by Monica Hammond

Edward Cridge was involved in the earliest days of what is now the Royal Jubilee Hospital. In 1858 a sick man was found lying on a mattress in the Cridges’ garden. Edward and his wife Mary cared for him, and realized that there was a need in their community for a medical facility. Edward made use of his connections in the community to open a care centre in Blinkhorn’s, a rented cottage at the corner of Yates and Broad Streets in downtown Victoria. Governor James Douglas helped to fund it. The number of patients at Blinkhorn’s  grew quickly, and the facility moved to a building on the Songhees Reserve. These were the simple beginnings of what is now the Royal Jubilee Hospital.

This piece is based on the work of Vernon Storey, Terry Worobetz and Henry Kennedy in their book The Home: Orphans’ Home to Family Centre: 1873 to 1998. Copies of the book are available for purchase at The Cridge Centre for the Family.


Fort Victoria

Fort Victoria Welcomes the Cridges

by Monica Hammond

There were about 200 settlers living in Victoria when Edward and Mary Cridge arrived in 1855, and about 600 settlers on Vancouver Island. The Cridges lived in Fort Victoria for their first year, while their parsonage was being built.

Very early in their lives in this new community, they became aware of the needs of their fellow Victorians. A seriously ill man was found on a mattress in their garden; someone had brought him there knowing that he would receive the care he needed because of the generous nature of the Cridges. Another time, a naval officer in ill health stayed with them while he grieved for his father. Yet another time, Edward Cridge visited a shooting victim who had been brought to the Fort. It did not take long for the community to appreciate the impact of Mary and Edward Cridge on the lives of the disadvantaged.

The gold rush of 1858 brought a rush of people to Victoria. 20,000 people came through, and Victoria’s population grew from a few hundred to between 3,000 and 6,000 over a period of five years. Reverend Cridge immediately began to address the needs of these new Victorians, many of whom would become his parishioners. His ministerial work extended beyond Victoria to Colwood, Esquimalt, and other areas. The impact of his and Mary’s social work was felt by people near and far.

This piece is based on the work of Vernon Storey, Terry Worobetz and Henry Kennedy in their book The Home: Orphans’ Home to Family Centre: 1873 to 1998. Copies of the book are available for purchase at The Cridge Centre for the Family.

Edward and Mary Cridge

Who were Edward and Mary Cridge?

by Monica Hammond

Edward Cridge was born in England in 1817. His mother died when he was quite young, so he was raised in a single-parent family. After grammar school, Edward went on to get a degree in mathematics. In the same year that he got his degree, he passed a theological exam and was ordained into the Church of England. After three years as a minister at Christ Church in Essex, he heard about the chance to minister at a new parish – the “Chaplaincy of Vancouvers Island” (The Home: p. 20). He would have to leave England in less than one month.

He had been working with Mary Winmill in Essex for some time and had grown to love her. He asked her to marry him and go with him to Vancouver Island. She said yes. Three weeks later, in September 1854, Edward and Mary Cridge embarked on their voyage to the other side of the world.

Even as a young man, Edward had an interest in helping people and building communities. He raised support for victims of the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, and organized a musical society while at college. Mary had also been active in community-minded work. This social awareness on the part of both Edward and Mary Cridge would have a great impact on the fledgling community they were about to join: Victoria.

This piece is based on the work of Vernon Storey, Terry Worobetz and Henry Kennedy in their book The Home: Orphans’ Home to Family Centre: 1873 to 1998. Copies of the book are available for purchase at The Cridge Centre for the Family.


Travel Back in Time with us!

Have you ever wondered why we are called The CRIDGE Centre for the Family? Or wondered how this organization was started? Maybe you want to know about the history of our gorgeous building and property? Over the next several months, we will be posting short excerpts from the book The Home: Orphans’ Home to Family Centre: 1873 – 1998. These stories will give you answers to your questions and whet your appetite for the rich history that surrounds this incredible organization that has been serving the people of Victoria for over 143 years. So join us as we travel back in time to Fort Victoria and the small community that became a staging ground for the gold rush. There are many characters who you will meet with names that you will recognize from streets and buildings in Victoria. The Cridge Centre for the Family and the characters that surround it are an integral part of the history of Victoria — and this will be a journey into the past that you will not want to miss! Watch for the first installment later this week!

With special thanks to Monica Hammond for compiling these stories.

What is Cridge Respite Connect?

by Gyneth Turner


Connecting families of children with special needs to qualified respite care providers.

The knock on the door came promptly at the appointed time, and the office door opened to reveal the eager face of the young woman who had submitted an impressive resume.  Jenna was hoping to find work providing respite care for children and youth with special needs.

Lucky Us!

Jenna found Cridge Respite Connect when she came across the job ad we have posted on indeed.ca – a job search website that connects employers with potential hires.  Indeed is one of the many tools that Cridge Respite Connect uses to search out qualified respite care providers.

Who is Jenna?

Jenna fell in love with supporting children and youth with special needs as a young teen.  She credits the amazing relationships she formed with kids while volunteering for events such as Operation Track Shoes as the impetus to pursuing work in respite care.  Meanwhile, Jenna is a third year UVic student majoring in biology and psychology.  She plans to do a master’s degree in neurobiology and ultimately, a PhD in neuropsychology.  She hopes that the work she does will directly lead to better supports for the challenges that people with disabilities face.

For Families

Jenna was hired by a family who have a young son who has Autism.  Jenna and Hugo have formed a great relationship that has opened so many doors for both Hugo and his parents.  While Jenna and Hugo enjoy an afternoon at the beach, Hugo’s mum, Karen, spends a day at the mall doing some back-to-school shopping with her daughter Emily.  Hugo’s dad, Ryan, has a few hours to enjoy a 50 km bike ride with some buddies that he otherwise would not get to see very much of.  Once a month Jenna spends Friday night with Hugo and Emily pigging out on popcorn and watching the latest Netflix offering.  Ryan and Karen have dinner out together or with friends.  Before Jenna, none of this was possible.

If you know a Jenna….

Please send him/her our way!  You can hardly imagine the blessing they will be to a terrific family, and according to our “Jenna’s”, you can hardly imagine the blessing our Cridge Respite Connect families will be to them.

For more information about Cridge Respite Connect, click here

More Than Making a Budget

— Marlene Goley

The reality for many women escaping abuse is poverty.  They have been isolated, forbidden to work outside of their homes or develop marketable skills, often are left with big debts, and are trying live on income which is below the subsistence levels of government Income Assistance. There is little hope of seeing any child or spousal support from their abusive ex-partners.  Living in poverty means cycling through financial crises, housing instability, insufficient money for food and such basic necessities such as bus fare or laundry.  Returning to their abusive partners often seems like the only way for them and their children to survive. This is the reality for the women who move into The Cridge Supportive Transitional Housing.

Our program supports have always focused on the safety planning and healing that are crucial for women leaving abusive relationships.  Because we realized that we also must support women to become financially stable in order for them to create and maintain their own safety and security and that of their children we tried to incorporate some budgeting and money management. But it seemed that that was just too huge a place for women to go with us, with themselves, or with anyone.  Women needed more than making a budget.

In 2010, we secured funding to launch The Cridge Asset Building Program.  Asset building programs are much more than making a budget. Participants are supported to actually implement the “financial literacy” that they have learned. They are individually coached to set some realistic financial goals for the future, to make a plan to get control over their money (even with little income), and to start saving  modestly for their future plans.  The key to making this work? The matched savings component of the program.  Each participant’s monthly savings is matched 3:1 for 18 months.

Here is how it worked for Joanna:

She left her abusive husband and was trying to support herself and her daughter on less than $900 a month.  She was in a terrible financial bind and terrified to open her threatening overdue bills.   But the promise of the 3:1 match was the powerful incentive. She said it was the only thing that gave her hope and the courage to try.  She made a spending plan that included a monthly payment on the credit card debt and put $10 a month into her savings account.  Over 18 months she paid down her debt, saved $180 and with the $540 match she had $720. That, plus a moderate student loan, would get her through the 10-month Registered Care Aid course.  What she could hardly dare dream about 18 months previously, had become a reality.
The matched savings component is the important difference between teaching budgeting or financial literacy and providing a real incentive to change behaviour – to engage with the learning. It is also the most challenging to fund. Since 2010, 43 women have been able to complete The Cridge Asset Building Program.  We are hopeful to start another 10 women.  Women can save up to a maximum of $50 per month, so for a 3:1 match for 18 months we need about $2700 for each match.  We have received a grant from The Lobstick Foundation that will cover two women.  But we are still searching for the funding for the other 8 women to give them all the opportunity to build their confidence, reduce their vulnerability, give them hope, and to be amazing role-models for their children. With your help, we can continue to give women the skills and hope to manage their finances well. Please consider making a donation and designating it to “Asset Building Program”.