Opening the Vaults: Our Chief Commissioners

As we come to the close of Chief Commissioner Sharron Callahan’s term and look towards welcoming Pamela Rice as our next Chief Commissioner,  we’ve opened the vaults to remember some of the dynamic women who have led our organization.


Chief Commissioner Mary Pellatt

Girl Guides of Canada National Archives APH 248

Our first Chief Commissioner Lady Mary Pellatt (front row centre) at Casa Loma, Toronto, c.1919.

Chief Commissioner Sarah Warren

Girl Guides of Canada National Archives APH 2475

Chief Commissioner Sarah Warren (right) was our longest serving Commissioner; she held the position from 1922-1942. Guiding in Canada saw great growth under her term with the creation of Provincial Councils and the Stores Department.  Here she is with Lady Baden Powell (left) circa 1923.


Chief Commissioner Mary Nesbitt

Girl Guides of Canada National Archives APH 1353

Chief Commissioner Mary Nesbitt was our 6th Chief Commissioner from 1954-1960.  She took an active role in international Guiding, holding positions on the Western Hemisphere Committee, Chair of the World Conference in Brazil in 1957, and becoming Chair of the World Committee in 1966. Here she is visiting a Red Cross Extension group in 1956.


Chief Commissioner Henrietta Olsen

Girl Guides of Canada National Archives APH 980a

Chief Commissioner Henrietta Osler was our seventh Chief Commissioner from 1960-1966.  During this time our name changed from the Canadian Council of the Girl Guides Association to Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada. It was also during this period that the national office was built in Toronto. Here is Chief Commissioner Osler with Honourable Lady Ellen Fairclough and a Brownie signing the guest book at the opening of the national office in May 1962.


Chief Commissioner Clysdale

Chief Commissioner Clysdale

Our 8th Chief Commissioner Victoria Clysdale held many positions (including Provincial Commissioner in Ontario) before becoming Chief in 1966.  During her time as Chief Commissioner, we celebrated our 60th anniversary with a Diamond Jubilee Pageant. Here is Chief Commissioner Clysdale with a group of Brownies behind the scenes.

Opening the Vaults is a regular blog series that celebrates Guiding’s rich traditions through the collection of our national archives. See past posts in the series:  Girl Guides Awards’ Season; Warning! Cute animal alert; The Maple Leaf Forever; Embarrassing moments; Retro camp pics.

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2 Responses to Opening the Vaults: Our Chief Commissioners

  1. Anonymous says:

    Ellen Fairclough was my aunt — pretty sure the title should be Honourable, not Lady.

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