James A. and Laurette Agnew Memorial Scholarship

James A. and Laurette Agnew
To say Jim and Laurette Agnew valued education would be an understatement. They were life-long learners who enjoyed taking evening courses at UVic during their retirement years. Jim helped relatives fund their post-secondary education and was fascinated with technology. It’s no wonder, then, that they left an educational legacy to the University which will live on in the students it supports.

Jim and Laurette met while employed in the engineering department of Bell Canada. They worked at Bell in both Montreal and Ottawa for over 30 years. After retirement in 1974, they built a bungalow on the ocean in North Saanich where, a friend says, they lived “simple, happy lives”.

Life wasn’t always so simple and happy for Jim. His father died young and Jim had to help support the family. He worked for the Algoma Central Railway; in his home town of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario; to pay for the education of his younger brothers and sisters, all the while studying part time himself. In the late 1940’s, when he was well into his thirties, he finally graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Engineering. Throughout his life, Jim made a point of spending time with his many nieces and nephews, instilling in them the importance of education. He also helped them financially if they decided to pursue post-secondary studies.

Laurette, née Laplante, was born in the small rural village of Ste. Monique de Nicolet, Québec, in 1917. Her parents stressed the importance of education and insisted that she learn English, which was uncommon in that time and place. She became an avid student and continued to learn while working full time throughout her adult life. As well as taking the office administration courses which shaped her career, she also studied French-English/ English-French translation, hotel administration, Linguistics, French literature, and music (piano and organ).

Jim and Laurette Agnew were very active retirees. They founded a publishing house: Les Editions Laplante-Agnew, a non profit organization for the publication of French books in BC. Laurette authored and published genealogical and historical works. They told the stories of their Laplante and Agnew relatives, and also covered subjects relevant to the local historical societies to which they belonged. These included L’Association Historique Francophone de Victoria, which Laurette co-founded, the Saanich Pioneers Society, to which Laurette was granted a Life Membership, and the Sidney and North Saanich Historical Society. Laurette organized the archives of these groups as well as those of La Société Francophone de Victoria.

An important organizational tool for Laurette’s archive work was the computer. She and Jim started using one long before there was a PC in every household. Jim spent countless hours learning as much as he could about this technology and encouraged family and friends to do the same.
Jim died in October 2008 and Laurette passed away in April 2011. Dawn Piché wrote: “They were always willing to help family, friends and the community they came to love and call home.” They continue to do so through the James A. and Laurette Agnew Memorial Award at the University of Victoria.

Return to Index
James A. and Laurette Agnew Memorial Scholarship

The Agnew Legacy is Passed On

Natasha Benn, centre, UVic Planned Giving Development Officer receives funds from the estate of Laurette Agnew from Robert Tonkin, left, executor of the estate, and his wife Dawn Piché, right.