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Yorke, Bruce

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Yorke, Bruce

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Bruce Yorke was born in Vancouver on December 10 1924, into a Point Grey family. He married Mary Bewick in 1944 and together had three sons: David, Paul, and Michael. In 1945 he graduated from the University of British Columbia with a B.A in economics. Graduate studies continued first at the University of Washington, and then a doctoral scholarship to MIT. During this time he became a lifelong member of the Communist Party. Pressure from the FBI brought an end to his studies in America and he returned to Canada in 1948.

From 1956-1962 he worked as office manager for the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union; serving as the accountant, hall manager, and organized fish sales during strikes.

In 1961 he separated from Mary Bewick. From 1962-1965 he was secretary of the Columbia River for Canada Committee opposing the hydro treaty and supporting the alternative McNaughton Plan and testified before the External Affairs Committee.

In 1966 he moved back to Vancouver and met long term life partner, Helen O’ Shaughnessy. The following year Yorke became a founding a member of COPE (originally Committee of Progressive Electors) later Coalition of Progressive Electors. He also founded the Vancouver Tenants’ Council at this time.

Yorke ran unsuccessfully for council four times and Mayor twice before being elected in 1980. As a COPE City Councillor he fought for affordable housing, good public transit, and supported the City’s involvement in peace marches throughout the 1980’s. In 1984 he ran successfully for re-election coming in 10th. However, the 11th place finisher, Philip Owen, successfully had the result declared invalid. A rare tiebreaker competition ensued with Yorke emerging as winner and tipping the balance of Council towards COPE’s favour. In 1990 he was elected to Council for the fifth and final time. In 1992 Yorke retired from Vancouver City Council due to ill health. Bruce Yorke died 5 days short of the 91st birthday, December 5 2015.


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