Isabel’s family has lived for over 5 generations in China. In 1912, her parents Homer Brown and Muriel Hockey relocated from Candida and began work as methodist missionaries in Chengdu China. China and just been liberated in 1911 and ended 4000 years of feudal government rule. While learning Chinese, Homer and Muriel met and later married.
Muriel began Montessori Kindergartens and schools for the deaf and dumb Chinese children. Homer was a pioneer in the beginning of the The West China Union University. They married in 1915 and had four children: Isabel Joy (b. 1915), Julia Helen (b. 1917) and Gwendolyn Maude (b. 1920) and a son. Sadly, Isabel’s sister and brother died in infancy due to malaria, though fortunately, Isabel and her fellow sister of 99 years, Julia are alive and thriving with a terrific look back at over 100 years of history in China.
On March 9, 1909, the Canadian school was founded in Chengdu before moving to the campus of West China Union University in 1918. To avoid bombing during the Japanese invasion, the school moved to Renshou county, 100 km from Chengdu, in 1939.
Homer Brown graduated from Victoria University with the class of 1906, He earned a Master’s degree in Education from Columbia University. And continued his studies by taking a number of divinity courses at the Union Theological Seminary in New York. He was sent to West China in 1912, supported in his Mission by the Missionary Society of Victoria College
He served in the China Labour Corps in World War I as an interpreter. He served as Dean of the Faculty of Education, West China Union University, he supervised the City Church in Chengtu, and was appointed General Secretary to the West China Education Union.
Muriel Hockey was a Victoria University graduate, class of 1910. Muriel Hockey had a distinguished career at Victoria College, in her first year she won the Oration Contests, in her final year the Robertson Canadian Constitutional History Prize , and she was awarded the Prince of Wales’ Gold Medal on her graduation. Before sailing to West China with the Woman’s Missionary Society in the fall of 1913, she qualified as a teacher at the Methodist National Training School (1911- 1912).
Muriel founded the first Montessori kindergarten in Chengtu, and founded the Chengtu Dewey School. She taught English to refugees at the University of Nanking in Chengdu and was on the Board of the Y.M.C.A. and the Chengdu Deaf, Blind and Dumb School.
For more information on missionary life in China, go to this webpage.