Ernest Winch was born in 1879 in Harlow, England and immigrated to Canada in 1910. He apprenticed as a bricklayer and became active in the trade union movement, eventually serving as president of the Vancouver Trades and Labour Council.
Mr. Winch migrated to politics and became very politically active in his community of Burnaby. He was a co-founder of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in 1932, the precursor to today’s New Democratic Party. He was elected in 1933 as the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) representing the CCF in Burnaby and was re-elected six times, serving until his death in 1957.
Ernie Winch was a tireless advocate for social welfare reforms and for addressing the problems of the aged. In 1943, he founded The New Vista Society to provide housing for convalescing single women with psychiatric problems. He further succeeded in establishing housing for “pensioners and arthritics” and in 1953, he introduced a bill in the Legislature to guarantee the permanence of the New Vista project and to preserve its purpose under a Board of Trustees. By 1957, The New Vista Society had built 125 apartments in Burnaby in 15 buildings at five separate apartment projects. Through his efforts, the low rental New Vista Homes for Senior Citizens was planned, built and inhabited under the directorship of The New Vista Society.
As the demographics and needs of the surrounding population has evolved, so has the focus of the Society. Responding to the needs of the community, The New Vista Society today operates 236-bed Care Home, the Cranberry Cottage Adult Day Program supporting frail seniors living in the community and provides 540 low cost housing units along with support services for seniors and families in South Burnaby.
A commemorative stone and plaque (left) honouring Ernie Winch lies at New Vista’s JS Woodsworth housing complex in south Burnaby. We are proud of our founder’s commitment, and we continue to uphold the ideals of supporting the people in our community who need our help.