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Charles Willoughby MacSorley

Reeve of Burnaby: 1954-1957
Councillor: 1946-1954; 1959-1964
Awarded Status of Freeman: January 25, 1971 (Presentation Made March 12, 1971)

Freemen - Charles MacSorley

Charles MacSorley was born on October 2, 1895 – one of seven boys and three girls born to the MacSorley family of Picton, Ontario. When Charles was five the family moved first to Manitoba and then, three years later, they homesteaded at Asquith, Saskatchewan where they settled for the remainder of Charles’ childhood. In 1916, Charles enlisted with the 65th Regiment from Saskatoon and served overseas throughout the course of World War One in France and England. Upon returning home to Saskatchewan after the cessation of hostilities in Europe, Charles ran for and was elected to the local School Board – the first of what would become an impressive list of public offices he would hold throughout the next 50 years.

In 1924, Charles married Grace Dobbs and they decided to move west, ending up in Burnaby, British Columbia. Employment opportunities were scarce during the 1920s and 1930s, but Charles worked a steady stream of jobs until he secured a position digging ditches for the Corporation of Burnaby. From 1929 until 1932, Charles worked for the Municipality and helped implement changes to improve working conditions for the labourers in the city – being an active member and later President of the Civic Employees’ Union and fighting to obtain a wage increase for the employees. When the Corporation of Burnaby fell into receivership in 1932, however, Charles was forced to find another job. He was soon hired by the Shell Oil Company and over the next decade worked his way up from a labourer to engineer, all the while maintaining his commitment to the needs of his fellow workers, helping to ensure that the Shell Oil Company became one of the first in the Province to implement organized prepaid medical care for its workers.

Charles’ commitment to his fellow workers and his desire to serve the public good led him to run for office in 1945 and he was elected to serve as Councillor from 1946 until 1954, at which time he ran successfully for the position of Reeve of the Corporation. He served as Reeve until 1957. Charles then returned to hold a seat on Council once again from 1959 until the end of 1964. Concurrent with his terms in local government, Charles was also elected Chairman of the Greater Vancouver Water District (1956), Chairman of the Greater Vancouver Sewerage District (1957), President of the Union of BC Municipalities (1959) and a member of the Provincial Legislature (1963-1966), the first Social Credit Member of the Legislative Assembly elected from Burnaby.

After Charles retired from serving on Burnaby Council, his work for the community did not cease. He still maintained an active presence in the city and his commitment to its citizens was witnessed by his tenure as a member of the Burnaby Hospital Board, Burnaby Chamber of Commerce, Board of Variance and Burnaby Christmas Cheer Fund, to name but a few of the dozens of community groups and organizations on which he served. Mr. MacSorley once claimed to “have served on nearly every committee or board that has been in Burnaby for the good of Burnaby and have enjoyed it all.” And it only takes a brief glance at his record of service to see that Burnaby and its people were the beneficiaries of Charles’ dedication. Charles was honoured for that service in 1971 with his appointment as Freeman of the Municipality.

Charles MacSorley died on February 24, 1976.

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