Anne Godfrey: A Leader Who Shaped the City We Know Today
In presenting her the Mayor’s Excellence Award for volunteering and leadership, Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie stated that "Guelph is the city we know today, largely because of Anne Godfrey." From her arrival in the city to her last breath, Godfrey created a lasting legacy on the community of Guelph that has inspired generations of women leaders.
Before assuming her pivotal role within the Guelph community, Godfrey grew up in Vernon, British Colombia. She graduated from the University of British Colombia with a degree in Commerce, then worked as a tax assessor for the Department of National Revenue. In 1944, she married her husband Gerry. They moved to Guelph in 1960 where they would later spend the rest of their lives. Godfrey immersed herself in the cultural and civic life of Guelph.
Those who had the pleasure of knowing her stressed Godfrey's profound commitment to volunteering. She dedicated her time to various clubs and committees in areas related to mental health, support for people living with disablities, and the arts. Furthermore, she assumed several leadership roles on the boards of local organization, such as Homewood Health Centre and the Guelph Arts Council. In addition, Godfrey spearheaded projects with the local chapters of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters Guelph, and the Guelph Public Library. One of Godfrey’s most significant and personal commitments was to the Canadian Federation of University Women, where she served as president from 1988 to 1990 and found many lifelong friendships.
Godfrey brought her dedication to community building to a more official office when she was elected her to City Council in 1974. During this period, Godfrey and one of her closest friends and fellow councillors, Marg McKinnon, championed the development of the River Run Centre, the premier performing arts facility in Guelph. In her last two years on council, Godfrey became the first woman to chair the Finance Committee. In a 1985 Guelph Mercury article, Godfrey stated that she was proud of her accomplishments and thankful for the interesting and rewarding experience.
The impressive work that Godfrey achieved in Guelph has not gone unnoticed. Godfrey was the first to receive the YM/YWCA Guelph Women of Distinction Award for Community Life in 1996. She received the Mayor's award in 2018. Her nominations highlighted her endless volunteer efforts, her inspiration to others and the example she set for many women.
Godfrey passed away in July 2020, just shy of her 98th birthday.
Pictured above is a portrait image of a smiling Anne Godfrey. For years, Guelphites have recognized Godfrey for her significant contributions to the Guelph community and her lifelong work as a dedicated volunteer. Picture taken by Nancy Coates. Godfrey is wearing a colouful stripped scarf and has large earrings.
Two Alderwomen Sitting By City Hall, 1981. Courtesy Guelph Museums, 2009.32.2242. City Councillors Anne Godfrey and Marg McKinnon are pictured above sitting on a bench and engaged in coversation. Their friendship was critical in establishing the River Run Centre.