Hughan, Helen oral history interviews

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Mercer Shipyard

Helen Hughan is a resident of New Westminster who worked as a secretary for Mercer Shipyards in New Westminster from 1944 to 1949. Her parents immigrated to New Westminster from Scotland in 1929 when she was three years old. She lived on the corner of Mowat St. and 3rd Avenue, and her father worked at Mohawk Lumber Company. She went to F.W. Howie Elementary School and Trapp Tech High School. In 1944, when she was senior in high school, she left school early because there was a demand for secretaries. During that time businesses would go to high schools to look for secretaries. Her major duties as a secretary were recording timesheets from the employees, typing letters, ordering supplies, and interacting with office visitors. Starting out at 18 years old, she believes that working at Mercers opened up to a lot of new things and experiences that she was never exposed to, living a sheltered life as an only child. Hughan reports that she was very happy working at Mercers because her job was challenging and exciting. She married in 1949 and moved to Burnaby, where her children were raised, and moving back to New Westminster in 1971. Prior to her secretary position, in high school she worked at Copp’s Shoe Store on Columbia St. on Saturdays. Throughout the interview she tells stories about the Mercers (father Ed, and sons Gordon, and Art (Arthur)) who she worked with, and speaks enthusiastically about her experience working for them.

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Interview with Helen Hughan