Several of our present members will remember Peter and Liza Chesshire, two memorable personalities who both passed away during the past decade. Both were active in the club for many years, and each is remembered for specific contributions which in each case would set a tradition.
Liza’s initiative was referred to in a previous History Corner. Born in England, she served in the WRENS (Women's Royal Naval Service) during World War II and was awarded the distinguished British Empire Medal for her work as an ambulance driver during the London Blitz.
She emigrated to British Columbia in the early 1950s, settling first in Vernon and later moving to Victoria to take up a position as Matron at Glenlyon-Norfolk School. As President of our club in 1984, Liza struck a deal with the then Headmaster, an old colleague Keith Walker, whereby the school would be the venue for the club’s annual exhibitions. This is now a tradition which has endured for 37 years, interrupted only by the current Covid pandemic.
To step back in time for a moment, Liza resigned as Matron at Glenlyon-Norfolk to take up a similar post at Shawnigan Lake Boy’s School, where in 1956 she met and married a teacher there named Peter Chesshire. The couple later moved to Victoria’s Oak Bay, when Peter secured a teaching job at St. Michael’s University School. Liza, after raising a family of two children, became a realtor.
Peter was also born in England, and after service in World War II and with a Cambridge Classics degree, emigrated to Canada. Once settled in Victoria, Peter joined his wife as a member of the club. Being an avid sketcher, with a distinctive and delicate style, he decided to organize a sketching component in the club’s Annual Show. Older club stalwarts will recall that Peter would invite members to contribute sketches by a firm cut-off date. With military precision, he would set up a large table in the old Glenlyon gymnasium, lay out the sketches and place them under a glass cover.
After Peter’s departure, the table and glass procedure was discontinued in favour of mounting sketches on walls or display panels, but, nevertheless, another Chesshire tradition had been established.