Anne Edwards, pictured in 2013, at a fundraiser for NDP candidate Norma Blissett. Anne Edwards passed away Oct. 15, 2022. (Barry Coulter photo).

Anne Edwards, pictured in 2013, at a fundraiser for NDP candidate Norma Blissett. Anne Edwards passed away Oct. 15, 2022. (Barry Coulter photo).

Anne Edwards: 1935-2022 — Journalist, educator, politician, writer, community advocate

There are few East Kootenay individuals who have had contributed in so many ways to the region as Anne Edwards.

Anne Edwards — politician, educator, writer and journalist — passed away in Calgary on Oct 15. She had moved there in recent years from her long-time home in Moyie.

Edwards was born in Tisdale, Saskatchewan, in 1935. She started out in a career in journalism after graduating from the University of Saskatchewan, but moved to the East Kootenay with her children, following the untimely death of her husband Mike Edwards in 1969.

She worked at the Cranbrook Townsman for several years as a reporter and editor (the typewriter upon which she wrote her news stories and editorials is still on display at the Townsman office), before becoming an educator at the East Kootenay Community College (now College of the Rockies), teaching English Literature and Composition and Business and Technical Writing. Following 11 years at the College, she launched her career in provincial politics.

Terry Segarty, a friend and political contemporary of Edwards, told of how she was an early advocate for building a theatre in Cranbrook, and led a campaign for a referendum to have one built. While that early effort was unsuccessful, subsequent campaigns resulted in the creation of the Key City Theatre, now an arts and culture centrepiece of downtown Cranbrook.

“Although the referendum went down to defeat at that time, Anne continued her advocacy for arts and culture in our community,” Segarty said. “At every opportunity she promoted Kootenay values strongly advocated for her beliefs.”

Segarty was himself a cabinet minister in Bill Vander Zalm’s Social Credit government. Edwards ran against him in Kootenay East in the 1986 provincial election, and won. When Mike Harcourt and the NDP took power in in 1991, Edwards became B.C.’s first female Minister for Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.

Edwards retired from active politics in 1996. But she continued to be involved in innumerable community organizations, including the School District 5 Board of Education, the Cranbrook Archives, Museum and Landmark Foundation, the Columbia Basin Trust, the BC Heritage Trust, and many more.

She continued her journalism throughout, contributing freelance articles to various publications, including the Townsman, and text for local community publications and regional books. She co-authored “Exploring the Purcell Wilderness,” “Cranbrook 1905–2005,” and “The Purcell Suite: Upholding the Wild.” She authored the book “Seeking Balance: Conversations with BC Women in Politics, in 2008.”

Karin Penner, a long-time executive director of the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce, remembered Edwards as people-oriented, and as a politician held the concerns of her community foremost.

“She cared deeply about her family, friends and constituents. She was well respected, a great communicator and always listened. She will be missed.”

According to McInnis & Holloway Funeral Home, a funeral will be held in Cranbrook in August, 2023. More details to come.

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