Association News

Published on August 30th, 2019


Scholarships Named for SAC Members

By Virginia Martin

There are a number of Canadian scholarships awarded each year in the name of early members of the association. Each is a tribute to a speech-language pathologist or audiologist who pioneered the professions in Canada.

The Heritage of Elaine Clemons (1925-1992)

Margaret Elaine Clemons was an early pioneer in the professions in British Columbia, serving as a founding member of both the British Columbia Speech and Hearing Association (now Speech and Hearing BC) and the Canadian Speech and Hearing Association (now Speech-Language & Audiology Canada).

Elaine is first documented in the ASHA Directory as a member in 1953. (now the American Speech-Hearing-Language Association) In an obituary in the BC provincial newsletter she was described as   “…an incredible friend to our professions …the very first speech-language pathologist to work in the Vancouver school system…”   Elaine was involved in teaching and/or delivering services to children for over 52 years.

In an online article on the founding of Speech and Hearing BC, Elaine wrote: “… We ran a notice in the local paper inviting those interested in forming a speech therapy association to attend a meeting in December 1953.”  These meetings led to the founding of the British Columbia Speech and Hearing Association in 1957, the second provincial association in Canada.

Elaine was an early and longtime supporter of a national professional association in Canada. At the 1964 ASHA meeting in San Francisco, Elaine — along with 11 other Canadian professionals — worked together to found the Canadian Speech and Hearing Association (CSHA).

Elaine also worked in private practice and was a member of the British Columbia Speech and Hearing Association Private Practice Interest Group, an innovative group that pioneered early private practice standards.

Elaine was interested in the history of the professions in British Columbia and she collected considerable information on this topic. Her original material was stored in the files of the provincial speech and hearing association but was later lost.  She was able to retrieve some of the information, probably from memory, and later wrote about the early history of the professions in BC.

Elaine would have had contact with many of the early pioneers at the initial meetings of Canadian Speech and Hearing Association, which were held during the ASHA conventions, as well as at the later CSHA meetings held in Canada. In reviewing the history of the professions in Canada, it is clear that the senior members of the professions who supported the associations were a stabilizing factor in the professions. For example, in the ten year period from 1970-1980, British Columbia experienced a “tremendous growth in the number of speech-language pathologists and audiologists working in the province from 30 to 240.” Elaine Clemons would have been one of those early ongoing members who was a mentor for new staff and a supporter of the professional associations when there were many new and changing personnel.


The Margaret Elaine Clemons Award is awarded annually to University of British Columbia students who demonstrate both academic and clinical excellence. The British Columbia Speech and Hearing Association Speech-Language Pathology Private Practice Interest Group established the award in memory of Elaine.

The Heritage of Grace Harris (1920-2002)

Grace Harris was the first recipient of the Honours of the Canadian Speech and Hearing Association (now Speech-Language & Audiology Canada) in 1977. She was well known as the author of Language for the Preschool Deaf Child, a book that was first published in 1950 and went through many later editions.  She also authored Early Guidance for the Hearing Impaired and co-authored of the John Tracy Clinic Correspondence Course, which has been translated into many languages. She also wrote many articles in national and international journals and conducted countless workshops and short courses in the area for parents and professionals.

Grace was a charter member of CSHA and listed in the 1965 Directory. When she received the Honours of CSHA, the write-up published in the August 1977 edition of HearHere, CSHA’s newsletter, read:

“Miss Harris has served the hearing impaired population in many locations and through many diverse channels.  She has worked in and developed programs for the Toronto and the Minneapolis Boards of Education, The John Tracy Clinic, the Hamilton associations for the deaf and hard of hearing and now the Society for Crippled Children and Adults of Manitoba.  Miss Harris’ main pleasure was reported to be working with children and their parents.  However, she has also enhanced the contributions of other professionals through her books and articles, her workshops, correspondence courses and student training programs. The warmth, respect and affection, which the children’s parents retain for Miss Harris is a signal tribute to her success. She has made a lasting contribution to our profession. We are proud to award the ‘Honours of the Association” to Miss Grace Harris.”

When she was nominated for the prestigious Royal Bank of Canada Award, it was said about her that:

“[s]he is a most unusual person who through her interest and abilities had made life meaningful and useful for countless number of children and young people in many countries, either directly or indirectly.  We are proud to know her as one of our great Canadians.”

In 1992, Grace was made a Member of the Order of Canada with a citation that read:

“Through many years of dedicated service, this teacher has significantly improved the quality of life for children with hearing impairments. She has produced training kits, teaching aids and a developmental learning guide to be used worldwide by parents, teachers and therapists.  Now retired, she remains active as a librarian with the Canadian Hearing Society.” 

Grace will be remembered as a dedicated teacher, as a contributor to professional associations, as a friend and in the name of the “Grace Harris Communication Resource Library and Family Resource Centre” at the Canadian Hearing Society in Hamilton, as well as by the endowed scholarship.


SAC awards the Grace Harris Scholarship each year to a deserving student. The funds were originally established by a bequest in Grace’s will to SAC. This was her final contribution to the professions. The criteria she set states that the award must go to a student studying in Canada in the second or final year of their program.

The Heritage of Donalda McGeachy (1908-1990)

Donalda McGeachy has earned the right to be recognized as a pioneer in the professions in Canada. She was a pioneer in the establishment of the speech-language pathology educational program at the University of Toronto, as well as in the establishment of three professional associations. Furthermore, Donalda is recognized as the first professional in Canada to extend her influence outside of the country.

As one of the founders of the Academy of Aphasia in 1962 — and as a member of the Academy’s executive for its first five years — she made a significant contribution to the profession in this area.  Donalda was also an early president of the Ontario Speech and Hearing Association (OSHA — now known as the Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists & Audiologists) and was the second president of the Canadian Speech and Hearing Association (CSHA — now Speech-Language & Audiology Canada).

Through her role in the establishment of the educational program in speech pathology at the University of Toronto, Donalda had a profound influence on the students she taught and supervised, as well as on the students who attended the program in the years that followed.

First listed as a member of the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) in 1957, it is believed that Donalda is the first Canadian professional to be made an ASHA Fellow.

As president of CSHA from 1966-68, Donalda chaired the first CSHA meeting held in Canada at Expo 67 in Montreal. The meeting was a Quebec provincial meeting with the Ontario and national associations included. The guest speaker at the meeting was Wilder Penfield who spoke on ‘The Second Languages and Brain Capacity’.

In 1994, Margaret Stoicheff, in a tribute to Donalda, said:

“…a pioneer in our profession in Canada, an esteemed colleague and a personal friend.  Most of you are probably not aware of the role that Donalda played in the promotion of speech-language pathology services for the communicatively impaired in Toronto, in the establishment of the professional associations in Ontario (OSLA) and in Canada (CASLPA) and in the inception of the speech-language pathology program at the University of Toronto.”


Her name and contributions are remembered in the Donalda McGeachy Scholarship Funds and in the Donalda McGeachy Memorial Lectures, both at the University of Toronto.

The scholarship is given every year to an incoming student in the speech-language pathology program. The primary criterion for the scholarship is academic excellence.  The remainder of the fund has been reserved to provide bursary funds for students who require financial assistance. The primary criterion for the latter is financial need.

The Donalda McGeachy Memorial Lectures occur on a semi regular schedule every few years.  The department chair and an advisory committee decide on the timing and the speaker. The lectures are open to the speech-language pathology community free of charge.

The Heritage of George Mencher (1937- )

Although he has retired from active involvement in the School of Human Communication Disorders (SHCD) at Dalhousie, Dr. George Mencher continues to contribute to the professions nationally and internationally.

In addition to assisting in founding the SHCD, George also served as Director of the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres from 1973 until 1998. At the time of his retirement from Dalhousie, he had taught every student who graduated from the program. Interestingly, in his last year of teaching, his course in hearing disorders included the son of an audiologist who was a student in the School’s first audiology class.

Since his retirement, George remains active in international work in audiology.  Over the course of his professional life, he has volunteered his expertise in many countries — particularly in Latin America — to develop programs, train personnel and provide services, and continues to do so. Since 1972, he has been an active participant in the International Society of Audiology, having served as president and past president among other roles. George also brought the World Congress of Audiology to Halifax in 1994.

George is a published researcher of many scholarly articles and eight books including, Early Identification of Hearing Loss, International Perspectives of Communication Disorders and Auditory Dysfunction.

One of George’s international colleagues has described him as “one of the most constructively active members of our profession over the period of its growth and maturation in the last half of the 20th century and in the present.”

While Director of the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Clinic, services expanded from one location to a 25-unit facility with more than 100 clinicians and employees across Nova Scotia.  In addition to his administrative responsibilities, George maintained an active clinical patient load and was responsible, along with Sanford Gerber and Robert Coulling, for six Elks International Conferences on early identification, diagnosis and management of the hearing-impaired child.

George served as President of the Canadian Speech and Hearing Association (now Speech-Language & Audiology Canada) from 1976-77 and was Chair of the committee that established the first Accreditation of Clinical Programs in Speech Pathology and Audiology in Canada.

George was also the chair of the first Canadian National Convention held in Halifax in 1976. In addition being on the Executive in the 1970s, George was longtime chair of the publications committee.

George was active in ASHA as an international delegate to the Legislative Council representing members who reside outside the United States. He also served on a number of ASHA committees.

Currently, George serves on the selection committee for the Glovin-Schindler Project to foster research into the meaning and principles for ‘good human conduct.’ He will be working toward the production of an online volume of the winning papers.  Irv Glovin, George’s uncle, became a friend of Oskar Schindler and was his lawyer following the war. Irv contributed significantly to the production of both the book and movie known as “Schindler’s List.”

George was the recipient of the Eve Kassirer Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement in 1984 at the CASLPA convention in Regina and received the Honors of the Association from ASHA.


George’s contributions to the professions are recognized through the following scholarships:

The Mencher Family Scholarship, which is awarded by the School of Human Communication Disorders to aid in travel/living expenses for a student choosing to do a third year practicum away from Nova Scotia. The student may be in either audiology or speech pathology. There is no restriction on the country for the practicum experience, but it must be outside of Canada. This scholarship is in keeping with the international experience of the Mencher family.

In addition to the Mencher Family Scholarship, there are several others George was instrumental in establishing:

The Lenore Mencher Scholarship is awarded annually by the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres to a student in the program.  Lenore was George’s wife and died suddenly in 1998.  She had worked at the clinic in the early identification program and had published several articles in that area.

The most recently established scholarship is the Sanford E. Gerber Scholarship. Dr. Gerber was a close friend and colleague of George and had taught at Dalhousie on several occasions. The award will be given to either an audiology or a speech pathology student in their final year to support any research project focused on a genetic disorder, one of Dr. Gerber’s interests.  The topic area has been broadly defined so that any disorder which is genetically based is included, ranging from Down syndrome to sensori-neural hearing loss.


We can be proud of and recognize the contributions to our professions from all of the above members. We can acknowledge the proud history of our professions in Canada and the many members who have contributed in the past and those who are still contributing.

A personal note:  The author knew and worked with both Grace and George in as a fellow volunteer with professional associations.  She has written profiles of Donalda, Grace and Elaine. Her original research notes and copies of her published and unpublished papers have been donated to the SAC Archives along with a number of CSHA and CASLPA minutes, annual reports and publications.




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