It has been a long time since Beryl Forgay (née Gaff) graduated from UBC. She often recalled that, as a member of the first class at UBC to study for a degree in Home Economics, there was much that had to be endured (partly because it was wartime). This included the use of old buildings that had originally been meant for other things. And, contrary to many facetious remarks at the time that Home Economics students had an easy ride, she had a heavy load of science classes, comparable to those of other students.
Following graduation, Beryl decided to teach “Home Ec” in Cloverdale and subsequently Powell River, BC. But in the fall of 1950, at the age of 24, she decided to apply for the position of nutritionist with the Department of Public Health in Saskatchewan. Her three years of teaching fit well with the educational duties of the job and satisfied her adventurous spirit. She planned to be in Saskatchewan for just two years. The position was in Weyburn in the province’s southeast, and arriving in Regina in January on the train was indeed a shock for the girl from Burnaby! However, she says in her memoirs that she fell in love with Saskatchewan the first spring she was there. The job required travelling with her “company car” to give demonstrations and classes in nutrition in schools and to nurses, among others. The travelling and exploring were the best parts of the job!
In spite of being married in 1953 and raising four children, Beryl was not deterred, and her entire life has been spent advocating for social causes and issues. In the 1980s she resumed her career as a Home Ec teacher while pursuing many other interests. She was a member of Regina Home Economics for Living Project (HELP) that among other things developed and distributed food-fact sheets and recipes in an easy-to-read format for various community groups. HELP partnered with Grow Regina and the City of Regina to produce Grow Regina – Gardening and Food Preservation Manual in 1994 that talked about how to grow a good garden and how to harvest and preserve the bounty. The aim of the project was to increase food security, develop community, and to improve the quality of peoples’ lives.
After one of her daughters was diagnosed with celiac disease at age 12 in 1977, she realized there was little in the way of gluten-free recipes or prepared gluten-free food on the market at that time. So she got to work and used her knowledge in nutrition and chemistry to develop a cook book entitled Baking Without Gluten. It was marketed through the Home Economics Association.
Beryl was president of the Regina Association for Community Living and spent her life advocating for people with disabilities, even receiving her MA, researching attitudes in Saskatchewan society toward people with intellectual disabilities. She ran a community kitchen that allowed the members to cook as a group monthly, and take home six meals for their freezers. She was almost 90 when she passed this responsibility on to a younger coordinator. She was a strident volunteer at her church and had a strong sense of duty combined with the ability to organize in a very easy manner. As her husband would say, “She’s always doing something good for someone.”
Beryl speaks highly of UBC and of the degree she obtained there, initiating a valuable life of service. Beryl passed away on April 6, 2022, at the age of 95.