In October of 1894, a young family arrived in Vancouver from St. Catharines, Ontario, looking to put down roots and embrace the many opportunities the growing city gave them. With an interest in innovation, businessman John Joseph Banfield, his wife, Harriet, and their children helped build and shape many aspects of the city that are still with us today, including Vancouver General Hospital (VGH).
Known for his dedication to public service, John Joseph served as the Chairman and Director of the Board of VGH for 23 years. As a member of the Women’s Auxiliary, Harriet was responsible for raising money for the hospital’s first ambulance (she also caused quite a stir by riding the city’s first ladies’ bicycle). Their son, Orson, followed in his parents’ footsteps by serving on the Board of VGH for nearly 30 years. VGH’s Banfield Pavilion was named after the family in honour of their contributions.
A brilliant woman
Growing up in this civic-minded family clearly shaped Orson’s daughter, Charlotte Jane Banfield’s, incredible path. A brilliant lawyer and political scientist, Jane graduated from UBC, taught at York University in Toronto for 30 years and founded the university’s Law and Society program, serving as the school’s first advisor on the Status of Women. For many years, she and her brother, John, made donations to support programs, training and equipment at Banfield Pavilion at VGH.
When she passed away in 2016, Jane continued her family’s legacy by leaving a generous bequest to the Leslie Diamond Women’s Heart Health Clinic at VGH and the Adopt-A-Young-Scientist program for up-and-coming researchers.
Supporting women’s health and research
The Adopt-A-Young Scientist program helps clinician-scientists at the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI) build their research and secure additional grants. This unique program allows young clinician-scientists to pursue their research passions to improve patient outcomes in the province.
The Leslie Diamond Women’s Heart Health Clinic is the first of its kind to focus not only on prevention and treatment of women at risk of or with heart disease, but also to develop new strategies for diagnosis.
“Heart disease remains the number one killer of women,” says Dr. Tara Sedlak, Director of the Leslie Diamond Women’s Heart Health Clinic. “With the help of Jane Banfield’s generous gift, we are one step further towards helping women in British Columbia live healthier, longer lives.”
With her remarkable gift, Jane wrote a new chapter in the history of her family’s relationship with VGH. “My family believed in giving back to the community. Contributing time and money to the hospital and many civic organizations was, and is, an important priority,” says Carla Banfield, Jane’s niece. There is little doubt that Jane’s ancestors who helped to build Vancouver would have been delighted to see the family legacy of support continue.
Learn more about Legacy Giving.