Catherine Chard Wisnicki

wisnicki-catherineOur beloved Catherine passed away serenely on October 21, 2014. Born in Winnipeg in 1917 she was raised in Montreal, attending McGill University, where she became the first woman to graduate from McGill’s School of Architecture. In 1945 she married Paul Wisnicki, a former aeronautical structural engineer in the Polish Air Force. In 1946 they moved to Vancouver, where she became the second female member of the Architectural Institute of BC and worked as senior designer with the prestigious firm of Sharp, Thomson, Berwick, Pratt. Somehow she also found time to start a family, with the twins Nina and Michael arriving in 1946, followed by Julia in 1949. In 1963 she began a career as a lecturer and assistant professor at UBC’s School of Architecture. In 1996 McGill University conferred an honorary Doctor of Science degree upon her. On her retirement, Catherine and Paul moved to Naramata, BC, where they designed and built an innovative passive solar house. Paul jokingly called Naramata his “white elephant,” while for Catherine it was “a land for the eye,” hence the name Elephant Island. Catherine was predeceased by her husband, Paul, and her great‑grandson, Rex. She will be sadly missed by her children, Nina, Michael (Bev) and Julia Griffith (Rhys); grandchildren, Morgan Griffith and Miranda Halladay (Del); and great grandchildren, Finn, Mya and Grady. Donations in Catherine’s name can be made to Because I am a Girl at