Dr Jessie Gordon: A Life of Education
In 1886 Robert Gordon, his wife Esther, and their six children arrived from Scotland to start a new home in the recently incorporated City of Vancouver. At 14 years-old, Jessie was the eldest child. The family settled in a house in Mount Pleasant and Jessie’s father founded one of Vancouver’s first daily newspapers - the Advertiser, which later became the News-Advertiser.
Jessie and her sister, Mary, attended Schenley House School in Vancouver. However, in 1888 Esther Gordon became ill and the family returned to Scotland, where she soon died. The family remained in Britain with the Gordon boys attending Bradford Grammer School and the girls attending Bradford Girls Grammer School. For the time, the school was exceptional in the education provided to girls. Jessie completed the Higher Local (University Entrance) Examinations with a distinction in English Literature.
The next step on her education journey was Newnham College at Cambridge, one of the first women’s colleges in England. Jessie spent two years at Newhnam qualfying for the university's Higher Local Certificate, a requirement for school teachers.
In 1894, Jessie returned to Vancouver and became a governess. Already determined to found her own school, she enrolled as a student teacher in Vancouver High School, the local public school. On August 1, 1895 Jesse was awarded her BC Teacher’s Certificate. She then became a member of staff at the Granville School, a private school for girls. Located at Bute and Haro streets in the West End, the school was well attended, including by Jessie’s younger sister Agnes. After two years, Jessie left to pursue her vision of starting her own school. It was clear that education was a defining element in Jessie’s life. Her desire to provide an exceptional education for girls has stayed a guiding principle for Crofton House for 125 years.