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Canby celebrates its new heritage trail with a ceremony and some well-earned writing awards

CAROL ROSEN - Heritage Trail essay contest winners (from left) Michelle Barajas Lorenzo from Trost Elementary, Norah Cordill from Lee Elementary and Meridian Lattig from Canby High School.

There was barely standing room for the parents, students, speakers, essay writers and winners when they gathered for Building a Better Community at the Canby Library on March 22. The group was there to recognize some of the many pioneer women that helped Canby evolve from a group of farms to the city it is today.

There were two highlights at the event. First was a speech from Barbara Roberts, Oregon's first woman governor. The second was the winning essay writers. Each of the elementary school students read their essays of distinction; one in Spanish and one in English. Gov. Roberts spoke of the accomplishments of the women who left their homes in the east to cross a continent to help their husbands and fathers build communities in the "Wild West."

She also discussed her lack of living role models, and how she found them in books, and how she used these women to lead her to her success. She also discussed the women of Oregon, as well as six other western states, who had the right to vote in 1912, eight years ahead of the country's other white women and many years ahead of black, Chinese, Japanese and other women without white skin.

Gov. Roberts' political career spanned more than 40 years. Before taking on the governor's seat in 1990, she served as an unpaid legislative advocate for disabled children, worked as a school board and community college board member, county commissioner, state representative and secretary of state.

But her subject was books. She didn't just talk about reading books. She talked about writing them. It took her five years and a lot of reminiscing to write her autobiography "Up the Capital Steps." She also mentioned four other books by and about women that she suggested can bring amazing highlights to others.

CAROL ROSEN - Meridian Lattig from Canby High School receives a medal from former Gov. Barbara Roberts.

Students submitted 130 essays for the heritage contest. Elementary students wrote about the women that inspired them.

The two of distinction were written by Michelle Barajas Lorenzo about her mother who worked hard to ensure her children have a better life than she's had, and Norah Cordell who wrote about her grandmother Elsie Cutsforth, whose life included a list of local and state awards for civic and business achievements. Canby High 14-year-old Meridian Lattig won the high school essay contest.

Her essay fell into the category of "Women Past and Present, Making Canby a Great Community."

She wrote about a senior at her school, Abby Marine, who is student body president, a performer in the Canby elite choir and an activist for all sorts of activities.

Other winners includedBrianna Voss, Alyssa Ross, Zachary Lenz, Erika Mendoza Tellez and Wyatt Kennemer.

Essay winners from Lee Elementary are Dana Gaytan Thompson, Kayla Pepper and Norah Cordell. And Carus Elementary winners were Kayleigh Morrison and Julia Nielsen. Each winner recieved a certificate signed by Mayor Brian Hodson and a gold medal. It was notable that each student thanked both the mayor and the former governor as they accepted their awards.

The room holding the event contained a number of pictures of women from Canby history. Women that not only helped their husbands, but also managed to create a society, worked on various boards and volunteered at schools and churches.

One of these women Myra Adcock Weston bought the Canby Herald with her husband and served as reporter, editor and columnist while her husband took over the printing operations. At the same time she began to collect and record stories about Canby history. She was secretary of the Chamber of Commerce for 10 years and spent several years as city treasurer.

This project began in 2015 when Carol Palmer first suggested a women's heritage trail to the Heritage and Landmark Commission. Through research she'd found women that made significant contributions to the community. "When I discovered that there were no heritage trails in Oregon dedicated to women, I was surprised. Many states have at least one, some dating back to the 1980s. I thought it was time to correct the oversight and Canby seemed like the right place to start," she said.

The Heritage Trail program was a collaboration between the Canby Public Library, Canby Kiwanis, Canby School District and the Heritage and Landmarks Commission. Nora Clark, Carol Palmer, Peggy Sigler, Tama Tochihara and Liz Carter worked on research.

Beth Saul and Nora Clark consuled with Janet Dilg and Kimberly Jensen from the Oregon Women's History Consortium.

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