Janet Moerman Memorial Award


Janet Margaret Moerman (née Robinson) was born in Prince Albert, SK on December 17, 1920 to Amos and Ellen Robinson. Jan had two older brothers, Henry and George. Sometime in the 1920s the family left the farm in Prince Albert and moved to Prospect Lake, near Victoria, BC. At that time Jan’s father worked for the railroad and her mother, besides raising three children, taught piano lessons. She taught Jan at an early age to play piano and Jan later picked up accordion and guitar as well. She and George became quite well known for their music around Saanich in their teen years. She was always in demand at parties because, if you could hum a tune, she could soon play it on the piano. 

At the urging of her parents Jan left high school before graduating and enrolled at the Sprott-Shaw Secretary College. She graduated from there with awards in typing and shorthand. However, her passion for education could not be denied, as she later obtained her high school matriculation in her 40s and then moved to college courses at the University of Victoria for the last three decades of her life. She also taught typing and shorthand at night school for several years.

Jan’s first major job was with the BC Motor Vehicle Branch in Victoria where she worked for 10 years. Considering her passion for vehicles this seems poetic in retrospect. She also worked as a secretary at Empire Stevedoring, as personnel officer at the Haney Correctional Institute in Maple Ridge and finally as executive secretary to the Deputy Minister of Corrections in Victoria. She retired in 1985 after 35 years of working for the government of British Columbia.

It was during the 1970s that her passion for travel took shape. Her first big solo trip was to Haida Gwaii. This seemed to be a defining moment for her. After this experience her love of travel and adventure grew. While she enjoyed visiting many places, it was Japan, and the many friends she made there, that became the great passion and focal point of her life. She first visited Japan in 1976 and was later to make several additional trips over the next three decades. In preparation for her first trip to Japan, she began taking private Japanese lessons. In 1981, she began to further her learning of the language and culture by taking every Japanese language class offered by her favorite professor at the University of Victoria, Dr. Morgan Young.

One of her trips to Japan was a six-month stay, during which time Jan travelled extensively in all directions. She travelled on her own, constantly improving her language skills and her knowledge of Japanese culture. She took pottery, flower arranging and tea ceremony courses along the way. She even tried karaoke and her favorite dish was okonomiyaki. Jan soon formed lifelong friendships.

Back home in Victoria, in between visits to Japan, Jan continued taking courses at UVic, building credits towards an undergraduate degree in the humanities with a minor in Japanese studies. In later years, not wanting to let a bit of hearing loss slow her down, Jan switched to auditing fine arts courses in Asian and Indigenous art history. She was still a registered student at University of Victoria when she died.

Besides her international trips, a favorite activity was travelling around BC in her camper with her friend Mary, camping at the various provincial parks on Vancouver Island. Other interests included bowling, bingo, baseball and any kind of card game (especially Skip-Bo). She also loved garage sales and was a keen barterer.

Jan died on July 28, 2005. She was 84. Her last day was spent watching a baseball game with Mary. Her favorite team, the Toronto Blue Jays, won after 18 grueling innings!

Jan has been a wonderful example for her granddaughter, and her son and his wife, who are all very proud of her thirst for learning throughout her life. Jan had a good life: rich, full and eventful. While we still miss her dearly, we are thankful for how much she has enriched our lives. She will live on in our hearts. We think Jan would be pleased to know that through the scholarship, she is helping someone further their education.

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