International Women’s Day: Mary Lindfield

Mary Lindfield was one of the many women who have made Commercial Drive such a wonderful place to live, and it is through her that we celebrate International Women’s Day 2013.

P001-1Mary Lindfield was born in Mosside, Alberta, where her parents were visiting from South Africa.  By the mid-1940s she was travelling supervisor for Harriet Hubbard Ayer Cosmetics.

In June 1947, she and her sister, Kathleen Thoreau, opened Bo Beepe Baby Shoppe at 1303 Commercial Drive.  When it opened, selling an odd mix of baby clothing and ladies lingerie, the Highland Echo called it “one of the most luxuriously equipped shops” on the Drive.  In October 1948, they doubled the interior space of the store and added a “confidential desk” for men seeking to buy lingerie for their wives.

Mary spent much of the early years travelling in Toronto and Chicago seeking stock for the store.  However, by 1952, her sister seems to have left the business and Mary ran it full time with a clerk, Vivian Hughes, who would stay with her for the next thirteen years.  As a sideline, Mary and Vivian raised pedigree Irish setters.

Mary Lindfield was an avid hunter and fisher, spending her holidays at sport in the Cariboo country.  But she was also a concerned businesswoman and felt strongly for the deelopment of Grandview.  In 1953 she was elected to the executive of the Grandview Chamber of Commerce and, breaking the old boy’s network, she was elected the Chamber’s first female President in 1956.

In January 1956, Mary moved her shop to the new Bentholme Building in the 1600-block Commercial, where she and Miss Hughes continued doing business until ill health forced her to close in late 1965.

See also: International Women’s Day 2012.