A retired businesswoman now living in Pemberton is the subject of an upcoming book that celebrates 50 years of women in business.
Denize Callaway, the founder of Tri-C Secretarial Services Inc., a company that has operated in Vancouver for over 50 years, is the subject of More Moxie than Money by North Vancouver-based personal historian Bernice Davidson, who herself worked for Callaway at the company.
The book tells the story of three women who have operated a company that started small in Vancouver in 1957 and that went on to grow to over eight times the size it was when it began, according to Davidson.
For her, the book is a chance to commemorate the business’s 50-year history and tell the story of how it began and then changed over the years.
Davidson’s journey with Tri-C Secretarial Services began in Revelstoke, where she lived in an unhappy marriage and operated a fish and chips restaurant with her husband. Their relationship was bad enough that one day she packed two suitcases with some basic clothing and carted off with her daughter to Vancouver, where she set about starting a new life.
Her son, already in Vancouver, was fixing a photocopier in the Tri-C Secretarial Services office on Burrard Street. Seeing that it was a busy office, he told his mother that they could probably use some help. It was there that she met Denize Callaway.
“I was given a letter to type the woman said to me, okay, do you want to stay and work now or come back tomorrow?” Davidson said. “That was how it was, and that's how I started working there.”
It would be the beginning of a partnership.
Callaway formed Tri-C Secretarial Services in March of 1957, after being fired from her job as a secretary with the McCormick’s biscuits company on New Year’s Eve. Though upset by the firing, it nevertheless marked the start of a new life for her.
“They decided that they had somebody else that they wanted to have the job in the office,” she says. “It was a very sad New Year's Eve for me for a while, but then it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.”
After working at McCormick’s she took up secretarial work with an agency in Vancouver. She found herself becoming bored, as the company did not keep her busy enough.
“I saw how much the company was making and how little I was making, and then I thought ‘hey, I’m on the wrong side of the stick here,’” she said. “I’m going to jump over the fence and I’ll be the boss and I’ll hire people and pay them a little bit of money.”