Vancouver History: Anna Ethel Sprott

Comments 1 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Anna Ethel Sprott (1879-1961) has a legacy in Vancouver that most might associate with a radio jingle: “Sprott-Shaw Community College, since 1903!”. However, Anna Ethel Sprott did more than marry the school‘s founder, R.J. Sprott, in 1918 and take on the role of president after his passing in 1943. She was a solid member of the business community in Vancouver and was involved in civic politics.

1957: Aldermen – Don McTaggart, J.W. Cornett, George Cunningham, Anna Sprott. VPL# 42553.
Province Newspaper Photo.

“The formidable Anna Sprott, with splendid suits and superbly feminine hats bedecked with cabbage roses and veils was one of the very early Professionals who forged a way ahead for women in business. On the one hand she provided access to the skills needed to break into business, while at the same time running a famous business school and running it at a profit doing that long before it was fashionable to do so.” [BC Radio History]

Anna arrived in Vancouver in 1911 as a young widow in her early thirties, with a daughter, and took a course at Sprott-Shaw, later becoming an instructor there. She was married to R.J. Sprott in 1918 and Sprott would then go on to found the first radio station west of Winnipeg (CJCE) while also starting up a separate Sprott-Shaw Wireless and Radio School.

1917: Archives #Sch N118.3. Artona Studio Photo.

“On his death in 1942, already in her early sixties and unmentioned in her husband’s obituaries except as an unnamed “sorrowing wife”, Anna Sprott nonetheless took over as head of Sprott-Shaw Schools and as president of the Vancouver radio station he founded now called CKMO.” [BC Radio History]

CJCE (1922) became CFCQ (1922-1928), CKMO (1928-1955), CFUN (1955-1969), CKVN (1969-1973), and went back to CFUN (1973-2009) before landing on CFTE which is currently TEAM 1410 radio.

Aside from the business, education, and radio history, Anna Sprott ran for Vancouver City Council in 1949 – precisely to be the first female candidate sponsored for a council seat (by the ruling NPA). She was elected on her first try and served on council longer than any woman in Vancouver history (1949-1959), winning re-election for three terms. Anna was also the first woman to serve as acting mayor of Vancouver.

Related Posts: Doreen Reistma and other posts about Vancouver History.

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  1. Sprott Shaw CollegeWednesday, December 18th, 2013 — 10:48am PST

    Thank you for this post! We are celebrating our 110th anniversary this year so this is very timely!

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