From work in the basement of St. James Anglican Church at
303 East Cordova Street, St. James Community Service Society
has grown to become one of the largest social service
agencies in Vancouver, with 250 employees who help about
2,000 people each month, with an annual budget of $10
May was honoured at the society?s 40th anniversary last
year. In 1961 she revitalized a Pensioners? Club in the
basement of the city?s oldest Anglican church, then and
still located in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of the
Her work with pensioners was soon followed with the
formation of an emergency hostel for women, a sheltered
workshop, legal aid, the conversion of a hotel to a
residence for alcoholics and later the mentally ill, an
intermediate care facility for seniors, a recycling project,
a hospice, and other services. Nearly the entire city block
on which St. James Church stands now houses society
Born May 21, 1917, in Gosport, Hampshire, England, the
daughter of Ernest and Polly Symonds, May was a WREN during
the Second World War. She then worked for a national
Institute of Houseworkers, and as secretary to an
She and husband Arthur A. Gutteridge, a school teacher and
principal, emigrated to Saskatchewan in 1955 where she did
substitute teaching and re-opened a school in a remote area
of Saskatchewan near the Montana border for a small group of
children who could not get schooling otherwise.
By then the mother of a daughter and two sons, she moved to
British Columbia in 1958, and lived briefly in Crescent
Beach Surrey before moving to Vancouver. She worked in the
library at the University of B.C.
She was a regular worshipper at St. James Church, attending
High Mass every Sunday at 11:15 am, and also the Thursday
morning Mass. At the church she was the (unpaid) ?Parish
Worker.? She once told an interviewer she felt that title
was her greatest honour.
The Order of Canada was awarded to her in 1981, which cited
her work in downtown Vancouver along with her ?eloquent
exposure of injustices.? She appeared several times in the
media to speak up for the poor.
While faithful to her church, that didn?t prevent her from
once picketing the church?s diocesan Synod when she learned
it planned to spend money on a residence for the bishop (and
meeting centre), when she couldn?t get money to open a
hostel for First Nations women on the East Side. She
eventually did get the money (albeit from a woman who went
to the United Church, not the Anglican), and established a
hostel that during its first year housed 400 women.
Other honours included the Silver Eagle Feather Award for
outstanding contribution to Native People, the Brock House
Award as B.C. Senior of 1986, the Distinguished Pioneer
Award from the City of Vancouver, and the Doctor of Laws,
honoris causa, from Simon Fraser University in 1987.
She leaves her husband, Arthur A. Gutteridge and two sons,
Michael John Gutteridge of Inverness, Scotland, and Lance
Gutteridge of Vancouver. She was pre-deceased by a
daughter, Sonia Gutteridge Craddock, who died in 1997. She
leaves 11 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.
posted by: The Ven. Ronald E. Harrison
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