In this month’s Founders and Builders Series, we introduce you to Jane Zavitz-Bond, a dedicated member who has served in many executive appointments and has been instrumental in every way to CFHA’s success.
By Robynne Rogers Healey
Jane Zavitz-Bond (born Mary Jane Vandervort) has had a lifelong interest in Quakerism and Quaker history. She was born in Columbus, Ohio, on 19 May 1930 and grew up in southwestern Ohio in a Quaker-settled region similar to southwestern Ontario. She earned a BA in History from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana and teaching credentials from the Ontario College of Education. During her university years, she married Paul Zavitz, a Quaker from Elgin County; the couple planned to settle on Paul’s family farm.
Feeling led to teach in Friends schools, Jane and Paul spent two considerable terms at Olney Friends School (1956 – 1961 and 1963 – 1975) as well as teaching in schools in southern Ontario. During those years the family expanded with the birth of six children: Kit, Pheobe, Martha, Daniel, Louisa, and Jamie. Paul was head of Olney Friends School from 1969 until his tragic death in a bulldozer accident in 1972. Jane remained at Olney for three years after Paul’s death to support the school; in 1975 she returned to Ontario with their children and pursued a master’s degree in library science from the University of Western Ontario.
In 1976 she became teacher-librarian at Pickering College in Newmarket where she remained until her retirement in 1995. In 1978 she completed some graduate courses in archival studies at the University of Maryland. In 1991 she married Everett Bond and the two shared a double life, Everett in St Thomas, Ontario and Jane commuting back and forth between St Thomas and Newmarket. Despite her retirement in 1995, Jane remained on in the library until December 1997 to allow her successor time to get teaching certification. Her ongoing service and commitment to Pickering College was acknowledged when she retired with the Class of 1842 Award.
It was during her MLS studies at University of Western Ontario that Jane became involved with the Canadian Friends Historical Association when it was still in its early years. She edited the newsletter in 1976 and wrote a history of the Sparta Meeting. That same year, she led local tours for visitors at Canadian Yearly Meeting when it was held at Alma College the same year that Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) was being held at McMaster University in Hamilton. As part of her MLS studies, Jane worked to organize Quaker records deposited in the UWO library, connecting her support of CFHA with her love of working with Quaker archival materials. Walter Balderston was chairperson of CFHA at that time; following his unexpected death in 1978, Kathleen Schmitz-Hertzberg became chair and Jane moved into the position of vice chair, one she filled for many years. She, herself, became chair of CFHA in 2003, a position she held until 2007.
Jane’s name has been synonymous with both CFHA and the Canadian Yearly Meeting Archives at Pickering College. The Arthur G. Dorland Friends Historical Research Collection Room (which holds the Rendall Rhodes collection of disciplines purchased by CYM in 1981) was established in the Library at Pickering College in 1983. In December of that year, the Canadian Yearly Meeting began to deposit its archival materials at a vault that Pickering College had constructed specifically for that purpose. Involved in CFHA and serving as the school’s librarian, Jane was appointed as volunteer archivist of CYM Archives in 1984. She continued in this position, commuting back and forth between her home in St Thomas and the archives at Pickering College, for over thirty years. In addition to her work with CFHA and CYM Archives, Jane has been active in the Conference of Quaker Historians and Archivists (CQHA) from its first biennial meeting in 1978; Jane was instrumental in Pickering College playing host to two of those meetings: the sixth biennial conference in 1988 and the nineteenth biennial conference in 2012.
Jane’s ongoing commitment to the CYM Archives and to the researchers who utilize the documents there means that she continues her work as much as she is able. When she is unable to be at the archives in person, she responds to extensive queries over email. There is not a researcher in Canadian Quaker history who has not benefitted from Jane’s encyclopedic knowledge of Quakerism, Quakers in Canada, or the material held in the CYM Archives. Her enthusiastic encouragement and support of researchers is echoed in her support of the work of CFHA over the past thirty-five years. She has worked in almost every aspect of CFHA. In addition to her executive appointments, she was for many years instrumental in the production of the newsletter and journal; depending on the technology of the time, she has written copy, edited, cut, paste, folded and mailed the newsletter and journal. When it was necessary, she personally delivered and collected material to and from the printers and binders. She has assisted in organizing and leading tours at annual general meetings and, no matter the place, seems to know a unique story to accompany every tour. Jane has an uncanny ability to see the way in which seemingly disparate threads are interwoven in the rich tapestry of life. It seems most fitting to let Jane’s own memories of her association with CFHA conclude this tribute to her service for CFHA:
the people who worked with me, and those who came for research have enriched my life. Many became friends, some joined CFHA, and, yes, some became Friends. At present I am still answering queries, and supporting as I can. Now it is time for others to come forward, before the baton is dropped in this special relay to maintain our Quaker history. The race is exciting and we never know what is around the next curve. Winning together brings joy! I am grateful to those who have shared the journey this far.