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Remembering Hilda Cliffe, ACNW President Emerita, 1928 – 2021

Hilda Cliffe 1928 – 2021

It is with heavy hearts, we share that Hilda Cliffe, ACNW President Emerita, passed away on May 3rd, 2021. Hilda was a champion of the Arts in New Westminster and passionate about education. The Arts Council of New Westminster is proud to award two scholarships in her name to students at Douglas College and New Westminster Secondary School.


Hilda Bardsley came into the world on January 14, 1928, in Oldham Lancashire. She was born in a pub called The Shepherds Boy. She passed away on May 3rd, 2021.

Her only sister Vera, 5 years her junior, died from Meningitis at the age of 6.

After finishing high school she attended Teachers College. One of her teachers challenged the class to draw up an imaginary journey, she chose Canada. In 1950 she came to Canada for a visit and fulfilled the “imaginary” trip! She returned to Canada in 1960 where Hilda received a Professional First-class Certificate. She was a teacher in Winnipeg Manitoba and met Jim. They were married on October 5th, 1962 but divorced on June 1st, 1977 but remained lifelong friends. As well as teaching she was involved in the Theatre world, did some acting and worked behind the scene.

She came to Surrey BC in 1963 and was teaching in Surrey while Jim was teaching in Langley. Hilda became a Canadian Citizen in 1974. Hilda’s last years of teaching were as Principle of the Montessori School in Surrey.

Hilda was very much a globetrotter visited Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America. Her regular trips to the UK and Europe kept her in touch with friends and family. She rode Camels in Egypt, Elephants in India, and flew in a Hot Air Balloon.

Hilda played the piano and directed choirs, was the president of The Vagabond Players and The Arts Council for many years as well “wardrobe mistress” for the Vagabonds. The City of New Westminster honoured her with the Bernie Legge Cultural Award.

Hilda supported many organizations in the city of New Westminster with her time as well as monetary gifts, especially Massey Theatre, Unity Church, Arts Council and Rotary to name a few. Hilda was a Champion of the Arts and an inspiration to her community!

A Celebration of Life will be held on June 12th at 2pm by Zoom or in person depending on regulations within current Provincial Health Orders.

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