In Memoriam: Charlotte Girard


- Philip Cox and John Lutz

We note with respect and solemnity the passing of French historian and Professor Emeritus Charlotte Girard.

Charlotte was born in France in 1924 and immigrated to Cedar, Vancouver Island, with her family to start what may have been the island's first vineyard. She attended the University of British Columbia as a mature student and is remembered for her very "French," lady-like appearance by a fellow student from that period in her life. Charlotte then went on to complete a PhD at Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania. 

Dr. Charlotte Sylvia Marie Girard became the first woman faculty member of the UVic Department of History when she joined in 1964. She taught modern French history, diplomatic history and Canadian foreign policy. Among her many academic contributions is the discovery that James Douglas' mother was "a free coloured woman" living in what was then known as British Guiana, uncovering an important part of black history for Vancouver Island.

She retired in 1988 and is remembered by her former colleagues for her charm and kindness, especially to new faculty, and for being a very gracious soul, from a time and culture that now belong to memory. John Lutz, professor and current chair of the department, recalls his time working with Charlotte as a TA during his graduate degree: "Poor Charlotte! I marked papers on French history, but never having taken a French history course I cannot not attest to the quality of my work. Other colleagues remember her as a perfectionist even on little things like the proper use of commas in footnotes, but my memory is that she was very forgiving to me."

Charlotte passed away on April 27th at the age of 96. Her obituary can be viewed on the Times Colonist website. 

Our condolences to Charlotte's family, friends and colleagues. May she rest in peace.


In this story

Keywords: in memoriam, history

People: Charlotte Girard

Publication: The Ring

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