Born Hamilton, Ontario 1890. Died December 28, 1938. This petite Canadian born actress is
universally acknowledged as the world’s first movie star. At age 4
she was performing as “Baby Flo, the Wonder Whistler” on vaudeville.
In the pioneer days of filmmaking, credits with the names of actors
were not important. She became known simply as the "Biograph
Girl". In 1915 she tried to help someone in a studio fire and
was badly burned. She
never achieved her former active career.
At the time of her death she had appeared in 250 films! For
more information check out http://www.biographcompany.com. or read
Florence Lawrence, the Biograph Girl : America's First Movie Star
by Kelly R Brown (McFarland, 1999).
L. Jack. (née Hayr)
Born Northampton, England 1839. Died February 15, 1912.
She was Canada’s first professional woman garden writer.
When she moved to Canada, she used her gardening skills to
experiment and make a profit.
Her skills became known throughout North America and she was
written up in American publications.
While she wrote and published short stories and poems, it is
her horticultural articles for which she is remembered.
Her book The Canadian Gardener : A pocket Help of the Amateur
was published in 1903
and set the gardening standard for all of pre World War 1 Canada.
Born Winnipeg, Manitoba 1912. Died February
5, 2000. One of the first Canadian composers
to use avant-garde techniques, she has helped introduce 2 generations
of young Canadians to modern Music. She was named to the Order of
Canada in 1989.
Laurin. Born Montreal, Quebec 1955. She began her choreographic
career in 1979. She founded her own company in 1984. The company appeared at Expo
86 and won the Jean A. Chalmers Award. Since 1986 the company has returned to
appear in Europe, the United States of America, Denmark, Singapore, Hong Kong
Youmans. (née Creighton)
Born Hamilton Township, Upper Canada (Ontario) 1827. Died July 18, 1896. After visiting a rally of the American
Women's Temperance Crusade in 1874, she returned to Canada full of
determination. Her efforts founded the Women's Christian Temperance
Union in Canada and she would be the first president. She would
remain, after 1889, its honorary president for the rest of her life.
Read more about her determination in her autobiography Campaign
Le Ber. Born Montreal, Quebec 1662. Died October 3, 1714. As a young girl
she had a dowry of 50,000 écrus and was the most eligible girl in New France.
However, Jeanne decided to live a secluded life for 5 years. On the 24 of June
1685 she took a vow of perpetual seclusion, chastity, and poverty. Because of
her social rank she retained an attendant. She gave large financial assistance
to the building of a new church and a three floor apartment directly behind the
alter became her living quarters. She has been studied and her life used as a
character in a modern mystery novel Death du jour.(1998).
(née Margaret Kathleen Nicol).
Born Listowel, Ontario 1904. Died February 12,
1949. A painter she was among the first wave of artists of Canadian modernism.
She painted many works of the women’s division of the Armed Forces at the
end of World War ll. She left over
1000 works of art in many media including designs for hooked rugs.
( married name McGowan)
Born Toronto, Ontario 1902. Died 1985. While she excelled in track, Myrtle was an excellent all around athlete.
In the 1928 Olympics (the first Olympic Games to allow women to compete) she was
the anchor leg of the gold medal winning 400 m relay.
She also held national and British Empire Games medals.
She is a member of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
1942. Nancy Ruth is Canada's first feminist philanthropist. With
less that 5% of funding from private foundations and corporations
going to women and girls her philosophy remains : "If women
don't give to women and girls, who will?" As an activist, Nancy
Ruth was part of the 1981 push for the inclusion of the equity
( 15 & 28) in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She
is a founding mother of Canada's largest women's history website
www.coolwomen.ca of The Womens' Legal Education and Action Fund
- LEAF/FARJ. ( Be sure check out the teen pages at the site www.LEAF.ca
) and of the Canadian Women's Foundation/Foundation des Femmes Canadiennes,
www.women.org who founded among other things the "White Ribbon
Campaign". Nancy Ruth holds three honourary degrees and the
Order of Canada. In March 2005, Prime Minister Paul Martin
appointed her to the Senate of Canada.
Born Hamilton, Ontario 1864. Died February
27, 1947. She was the first woman to graduate from Trinity College
of the University of Toronto. When she settled with her young family
in British Columbia she was the first woman of the region to be appointed
a judge of the juvenile Court, a post she held for 23 years.
Born Toronto, Ontario 1979. This actress became
best known in Canada for her role in “Road
to Avonlea”. She had however been working with Disney Studios since she was
4 years old. She is currently making the rare successful change from a child actor
to adult actor. She is pursuing her
education and has strong pacifist political views.
Born La Malbaie, Quebec 1845. Died June 6, 1924. This was the pen name of Laure Conan, author of
nine novels of French Canadian Life. She was a witness to her time. She was the
first French Canadian female novelist. All her novels centered on the 3 driving
forces of French Canadian life, family, nation, and religion.
(née Strickland) Born London,
England 1802. Died August 29, 1899.
This pioneer came to Canada with her lieutenant husband in 1832. She
wrote of the life around her in what was then "The Canadas"
in her book The Backwoods of Canada. She would also
note the flora of the region in her Canadian Wild Flowers. Her
sister, Susanna Moodie was also a well known Canadian author.
Born Collingwood, Ontario 1876. Died 1925. A
cousin to the famous Irish writer, W. B. Yeats, this Canadian novelist toured
Ireland on foot in 1904. She published
several of her works and in her own day she was a well-respected poet.
Chiriaeff (née Otzoup-Goeny).
Born Riga, Latvia 1924. Died September 22, 1996. Founder of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens she was a strong
force in the development of dance in Quebec and Canada.
Born Ottawa, Ontario 1939. A member of a skiing family, Anne, came to international attention
at the age of 15 when she won the 1954 Holmenkollen Giant Slalom event in Norway,
the youngest winner in the events’ 50 year history.
At the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics she won an Olympic Gold Medal for Canada.
In that same year she won the giant slalom and combined women’s alpine titles
the 1st time ever by a non European.
Helen Vanderburg. Born
Alberta 1959. A synchronized swimmer who won the 1973 Canadian Junior
Championship. By 1977 she placed first at the Pan Pacific Games and swept the
Canadian championships with 6 gold medals. In 1978 she became the first
Canadian to win the world championship with gold medals in the solo and duet
events. In 1979 she defeated 90 competitors to win the solo title at the
world aquatic championships. She was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall
of Fame in 1983.
Drapeau (née Noel) Born Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly,
Quebec 1766. Died November 17, 1829. She married
Joseph Drapeau in 1782 but became a widow with his death in 1810. As a wife
she had no rights nor power but as a widow she had the same rights as an adult
male. This was a law entitled Coutume de Paris. She took over the family businesses
and rented out houses, businesses and lands. The monies were invested in real
estate. She was a well known and respected business personality of her day. Upon
her death her estate was divided evenly among her 6 daughters who ably continued
the family businesses.
Bayard Bird. (née
Rhein) Born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S.A.1908. Died July 18, 1998. A member of the Canadian Senate,
under the pen name of Anne Francis she was also an author.
She was also a pioneer broadcaster and journalist. In 1967
she was appointed Chairperson of the Royal Commission of the Status
of Women. She was a Companion of the Order of Canada.
Born Clarenceville, Quebec 1862. Died November 10, 1941. She studied for her B.A. at
McGill in 1890, took her M.A. in 1896 and would go on to study at
the Academy of Science, London England, Harvard University, USA, and
Bonn University, Germany. Carrie became the first woman professor
at an university in Canada. She was also and activist in women's rights.
Born Montreal, Quebec 1935. Lucille first skied when she was two years old! At 12 she was
the national junior ski champion and named to the Canadian National Ski Team at
14!. In 1956 she won bronze at the Cortina Olympic Games and became the first
ever Canadian Olympic ski Medalist. In 1958 she won both the downhill and giant
slalom event at the World Championships. She is a member of the Canadian Sports
Hall of Fame.
London, England 1947. This prima ballerina of the National Ballet of Canada won international
acclaim for her extraordinary versatility and dramatic power as she danced herself
around the world for 25 years.
Retired from dance she turned her talents to writing and producing for
television and theatre. She has written books for children and is doing freelance
writing for notable Canadian magazines. She volunteers for charity and has bee
chairperson for UNICEF.
She has received the Order of Canada.
Born Portland, Maine U.S.A. 1947. This mother of two boys is well remembered for her work on
Second City TV, Kate and Allie and Sesame Street. She has had guest appearances since the 1950’s in such series
as Maverick, Carol Barnet Show, Superman and doing voices on The Simpson’s. She
has won two Emmy awards for her program writing and she won a Tony award for
My favorite year.
de la Roche. Born
Newmarket, Ontario 1897.
Died July 12, 1961. While studying at the Ontario College of
Art in 1902 she would publish her first short story in Munsey's
Magazine. She would go on the write for the Atlantic
Monthly, the Canadian Magazine and the Women's home
Companion. In 1923 she would publish her first novel followed
in 1925 with an one act play. In 1927 she won a $10,000.00 award for
her novel Jelna. This novel would be the first of 16
novels about the Whiteoak family. Even the adoption of two children
in 1931 did not deter her writing. In 1954-55 the novels were adopted
for television by the British Broadcasting Corporation. There was
a renewed interest when the CBC TV produced a Jelna series.
However in current times the novels are not on popular reading lists.
Born 1945. This mother of three is a teacher and guest lecturer. She has toured
South Africa, Sweden, Germany and England. To date, for her short stories, she
has been awarded the Commonwealth Best First Book Award (1989), Saskatchewan
Book of the Year Award (1994), the Marian Engel Award (1994) and the Giller Award(1999).
Grace England (née
Ritchie) Born Montreal, Quebec 1868. Died February 1, 1948. She would be the first woman to be valedictorian at McGill University even though she was originally refused
entry because she was a woman. She was the first woman to graduate from a medical
school in Quebec.
Hatherly). Born Bude, England 1834.
Died May 15, 1918. She and
her husband, Richard, immigrated to Canada in 1852. Hannah learned photography and followed her gold prospecting
husband to British Columbia where she began her own gallery.
Richard leaned the trade from her and became a landscape photographer.
Hannah was well known for her portraits.
de Couagne. Born 1697. Died February 26, 1764. She
married Francois Poulin de Francheville in 1718 and was a widow in 1733. She became
interested in business after her husband's death. She would be known as
an astute business woman and played an active role in New France economy.
She was the owner of the slave Marie Joseph Angelique. It was this slave who while
trying to cover her escape would set fire to the widow's house in 1734 and the
fire would get out of control burning much of the settlement.
name Gwethalyn Graham Erichse-Brown).
Born Toronto, Ontario. 1913. Died
November 25, 1965. This
author would use only her first 2 names. The first novel she
wrote, she used her own experiences at a Swiss Boarding school as a
background. Swiss Sonata (1938) won a Governor General's
Award. Her novel Earth and
High Heaven was the first Canadian novel to top the American
bestseller list (1945). This same novel would win a Governor Generals
Award, would sell for movie rights (alas it was never to be a movie)
and would be translated into Braille and 18 different languages!
She continued to write but always in the shadow that she could never
do as well with another novel. She wrote articles on immigration, anti-semitism and women’s
issues. Later in her career, she successfully turned her talents
to writing TV Scripts.
Born Vinemount, Ontario 1859. Died January 14, 1949. One of Canada’s early women doctors she almost single handedly fought
fore Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario to become co-educational and accept
women as students in medicine. She
was an enthusiastic champion of women’s rights and was elected Vice President
of the National Council of Women.
Ruth Gordon. Born
New York, U.S.A. 1943. As a journalist she worked
for CBC Radio and the Toronto Star newspaper. She wrote a book about
the Toronto Blue Jays but found her love to be writing mysteries centered on a
sportswriter as a main character. If
you like mysteries, visit your own public library and look up these books.
Louiseville, Quebec 1924.
Died November 19, 2001 . A member of a group of artists known as Les Automatistes she has worked in medium
such as stained glass. She is primarily known
for her dynamic paintings. She uses vibrant colours and fluid forms to cover her
1952. After her education in the
U.S. she moved to study at the University of British Columbia. She began publishing
her poetry in 1977. To date she has
published 10 collections of her work.
Miller. Born Toronto, Ontario 1979. This Toronto actress
began her career in the 1989 revitalization of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Club.
She has also appeared as Cindy "Mac" MacNamera in the TV series Emerald
Cove. Watch for this up and coming talent.
Seller. Born 1904. This Montreal
athlete began her interest in sport by competing in track and hold provincial
titles in javelin, broad jump and running relays. She also excelled in swimming
and diving, holding the national record for the 3 meter diving championship.
Perhaps her legacy is better shown in her writings of the rules of synchronized
Born Montreal, Quebec 1931. Died April 25, 1993. She began her working career as a secretary with
a supermarket chain. She joined the staff of the Montreal Star
newspaper in 1953 and thought persistence and hard work she never accepted
accepted the "Glass ceiling" that kept many women in low positions.
She rose to be a reporter and editor at three of Canada's major daily newspapers.
Her husband Jack Rabinovitch established the Giller Prize in 1994. It is Canada's
premier literary prize for literary fiction.
Born Toronto, Ontario 1885. As a young widow with two children Dora supported herself by opening
a small reading room in her house. She was one of the first book dealers in Toronto
to specialize in 'out-of–print' Canadian books. The Dora Hood Book Room received
royal warrant from Buckingham Palace to acquire Canadiana! She developed precise
and profitable catalogue of Canadian books. After retiring from the Book Room
she became an author herself producing two books.
Montreal, Quebec 1927. A trained and accomplished
architect she designed the Saidy Bromfman Center in Montreal and served as consultant
for the Toronto Dominion Center. She won the National Honor Award from the American
Institute of Architects for her work in Los Angeles.
She is the founder and director of the Canadian Center for Architecture,
a world-class museum and study center in Montreal.
She is an officer in the order of Canada.
Emoke Jolan Ezsebet Szathmary
Born Ungvar, Hungary January 25, 1944. She emigrated to Canada and
studied for her BA at the University of Toronto. By 1974 she had
received her PhD. That same year she married George Alexander. The
couple have two children. Her academic career began at Trent
University, Peterborough, Ontario and then to McMaster University,
Hamilton Ontario. By
1989 she was Dean of Faculty, School of Social Sciences at the
University of Western Ontario , London, Ontario where she went on to
hold positions of Provost and Vice President (Academic). The family
settled in Manitoba in 1996 where Emoke is President and Vice
Chancellor of the University of Manitoba. While working full time as
a mother and academic administrator she was editor for the Journal
of Physical Anthropology (1995-2001) and President of the Canadian
Association of Physical Anthology as well as writing numerous
published articles and papers. In 2003 she became a member of the
Order of Canada. The next year she was named one of Canada’s top 100
most powerful women by the Women’s Executive Network and the Richard
Ivy School of Business. She was made a Fellow of the Royal Society
of Canada in 2005.
Suggested sources : Canadian Who’s Who 2006 (Toronto: University of
January 25, 1941 Brantford, Ontario. As a teen she was a member of the Canadian
International Swim teams from 1954 through 1962.In 1956 she was one
of the youngest team members at the Melbourne Australia Olympic
Games. In 1959 she held the world record for the 100 meter back
stroke. And won a silver medal at the Pan Am Games. In 1958 and 1969
she represented Canada at the British Empire Games and won silver
and bronze medals. She is married to Donald Jenkins and they have
three children. In 1964 she attended McMaster University, Hamilton,
Ontario for her BA and went on to earn her BNE. She is a member of
the group of Olympians who were honoured in 2002 on the Brantford
walk of Fame.
Suggested source: Who’s
who in Canadian Sport by Bob Ferguson.
Born Halifax, Nova Scotia 1911. Died February 25,
1999. This diplomat was one of 4 pioneering women in the administration of the
Canadian federal government where she worked at the Department of External Affairs.
She served in Mexico and London and then in 1958 she was the first woman to become
appointed as an ambassador for Canada. She served as Canadian ambassador to Israel,
Aglukark. Born Churchill, Manitoba 1967. Her Inuit
name is Uuliniq. She is one of six children. She actually worked as a civil servant
at the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs in Ottawa for awhile but gave
it up to be able to sing. She had produced three albums and two hit singles by
1999. The music video for Searching won best cinematography honors at the 1991
Canadian Music Video Awards. She is a committed family person and does motivational
talks to youth advising that "staying in school is cool ."
Born Hamilton, Ontario 1905. Died November 13, 2004. Her first career was as an accountant. She owned
her own firm when she was elected to Hamilton City council in 1946. In 1950
she was elected to the House of Commons in Ottawa. She was the first woman to be appointed to the post of
a Cabinet Minister in the Canadian Parliament in 1957. In 1989 she was presented
with the Persons Award. In 1992 the Queen invested her with the title "Right
Honourable". She was made a Companion in the Order of Canada in 1995. You can
read about her remarkable life in her memoirs which were published in 1995
under the title Saturday's Child.
1975. A member of the national Canadian Diving Team, Anne has won 19 international
medals to date. She won the gold medal in the Junior World Championships
and she is the Canadian record holder in Women's Platform Diving.
Born Halifax, Nova Scotia 1968. She studied classical
guitar, piano and voice as a child. As
a teen she was a member of a new wave band. Since releasing TOUCH in 1988
she has explored her own unique musical interests being indifferent to current
trends and fads. Her songs convey a passionate honesty rarely found in today’s
Catherine Marshall. Born Toronto, Ontario 1924. Died February 17, 1997. Though she suffered from
polio as a child it did not stop this opera singer. Her career too
her all over the world to sing in the world’s greatest operatic productions
and for solo appearances. She
received many acknowledgements for her contributions to Canadian
society including the Molson Prize and being a companion in the Order
Born 1980. Born in London she moved to Vancouver in 1989 and studied with the
Vancouver Youth Theatre. She has acted in numerous films including: Misery
Harbor, Opposite Sex, In Cold Blood, and The Adventures of Yellow
Born Quebec City, Quebec 1964. Sylvie was the first Canadian to win a medal in Olympic Diving.
She won the gold in the 3-meter springboard diving in the 1984 Olympics
in Los Angeles. She is a member of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
Falk. Born 1928. An artist
who works with multimedia. Her home base is in Western Canada, but she has a national