I came across Jean Archibald yesterday when I was at The Paper Hound Bookshop. Not in person, mind you. She died in 1974. But I encountered her through her bookplate on a book that I purchased. Kim Koch, one of the owners of The Paper Hound pointed out the bookplate to me and remarked that Jean might be a worthy subject for VAIW. I headed home and did a bit of research to see if there was enough information about Jean’s life to make it post-worthy; and, to my surprise, there was! There are relatively few biographical notes pertaining to women on this blog, so it is my great pleasure to present this one.
Jean Campbell Archibald was born in 1911 in Vancouver, following the marriage of her parents, Arthur George Archibald and Muriel Mae Smith a year earlier. She was the eldest of six kids. While in Vancouver, A. G. Archibald was a shipper with F. R. Stewart & Co., a grocery supplier, and later a partner with Parkinson & Archibald Wholesale Fruit Merchants. Arthur died very young (age 49) in 1929.
There was a period between about 1915 and 1927 when the Archibalds were in Calgary (where her Dad was working with a dairy firm — possibly Foremost Dairy). Jean took most of her schooling there and in 1927, she was awarded a “gold medal” for achieving the highest marks among high school students in Alberta.
Following Arthur’s death shortly after the family moved back to the Lower Mainland from Alberta, Jean was tasked with raising her younger sibs and so had to abandon her plans of going to university. Her mother went to work raising chickens and selling the eggs.* Later, both women went to work for Bowman Storage. Oscar Bowman, the owner, was Muriel’s brother-in-law. Jean did secretarial and book-keeping work for Bowman; Muriel was a dispatcher. The women shared accommodation at the (still standing) Quebec Manor in Mount Pleasant.
It isn’t clear for certain how Jean met the man that she would marry. But I like to think that they met while serving together on the board of the Co-operative Society for the Visually Handicapped (a precursor to the CNIB?). In 1953, Colin Haynes was vice-president and Jean Archibald was secretary. Colin was blind (brought on by MS, apparently). They were married in Blaine, WA on November 23, 1955.
Jean died relatively young at age 62 in January 1974. Colin lived until 1980. Less than a year before her death, Jean had a letter printed in The Province in response to a query by a reader as to whether there was a local Sherlock Holmes club. I reproduce her letter below. I think it represents a clue as to her true range of literary interests beyond what is available today to an amateur biographer:
I wonder if your reader is thinking of the Baker Street Irregulars, a group formed in the 1920s and, as far as I know, continuing today. The group published the Baker Street Journal from New York. To become a member one had to write a thesis dealing with some aspect of Holmes’ career and these stories were printed in the journal. I don’t believe there is a Vancouver branch but it would be fun to have one.
— Jean C. Haynes, VancouverProvince, 10 March 1973
*My thanks to Shawna Archibald, niece of Jean for her help in filling in some details pertaining to Jean’s life and for supplying the photographic portrait of Jean shown above.