Home PageAbout UsLinksSearchE-Mail Me

©

Copyright © 2004-2014 Dawn E. Monroe. All rights reserved.

 
Activities and Games
Do You Share a Birthday
With a Famous Canadian Woman?
Famous Canadian Women's
Historical Timeline
Famous Canadian Women
on Canadian Postage Stamps
On the Job
Over 1,000 Names
Quotes from
Famous Canadian Women


                   Click the button at the end of this line to go back to the Famous Firsts main page

The names appearing below are just a fraction of the Canadian women of accomplishment. Check out The Famous Canadian Women 's section ON THE JOB  which contains mini profiles of 1900 Canadian Women of Achievement.

Authors   Journalists & Broadcasters
1820's
 
Julia Catherine Hart. (née Beckwith)   Born Fredericton, New Brunswick March 10, 1796. Died November 28, 1867.  She wrote the first work of fiction by a native born Canadian to be published in Canada.  Her novel was called St Ursula’s Convent or The Nun of Canada, Containing Scenes from Real Life” (1824). She wrote this book when she was only 17 years old! She would continue publishing her writings while she raised 6 children!
 
1850's
 
Mary Elizabeth Bibb. née Miles. Born Rhode Island, U.S.A. 1820. Died Brooklin, New York, U.S.A. 1877. Mary was born a free Black Quaker and was privileged to be educated , graduating from Normal School (Teacher’s College) in Lexington, Massachusetts. She was one of the first Black women teachers in North America. In 1847 she met her future husband Henry Bibb ( d. 1854) who was an escaped slave, at an anti-slave rally in New York City. The couple were wed a year latter and settled in Boston. In 1850 the couple fled to Canada after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law which could have caused Henry to be re-enslaved. Settling in Sandwich, Canada West (now known as Windsor, Ontario) the couple played a key role in the famous Underground Railroad that helped escaped slaves settle in Canada. The co-published the newspaper The Fugitive Voice beginning in 1851. Mary is credited with being the first Black woman journalist in Canada. Later her sister-in-law Mary Shadd Cary would become the first Black woman publisher of a newspaper. Mary Bibb also operated a dress making business and taught both adult Black and their children in a class in her own home. She fought for Black schooling in the area for several years. After Henry’s death she carried on until 1871 when she returned to the USA. She and Henry were declared Persons of National Historic Significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 2002. Sources: Section15.ca ; Merna Forster 100 more Canadian Heroines; Famous and Forgotten Faces (Toronto; Dundurn Press, 2011.
 
1860's
 

Félicité Angers. Born January 9, 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.

1870's
Isabella Valancy Crawford.   Born Dublin, Ireland December 26, 1850. Died February 12, 1887.  Isabella emigrated with her family from Ireland around 1947. After the death of her father in 1875 she began publishing popular verse and serialized novels in publications in Toronto and New York City. She would be the first important woman poet in Canada. A complete collection of her works was published posthumously.)
1880's
Robertine Barry. Born L’isle-Verte, Lower Canada February 26, 1863. Died January 7, 1910. A well known personality in Montreal society she was a pioneer feminist lecturer and writer. She is considered the first woman journalist in French Canada. She joined the staff of the weekly newspaper La Patrie in 1891. Here column was written for almost then years under the nom de plume of Francoise. She would go on in her career to found Le Journal d Francoise, published from 1902-1909 . She also would publish books of her short stories. In 1900 she was one of the Canadian government representatives to the famous Paris International Exhibition. In 1904 the government of France named her as an “Officer de l’Acaémie”
Kathleen “Kit” Coleman. Born Galway, Ireland 1864. Died 1915. After the death of her first husband, Kit immigrated to Canada in 1884. She turned to journalism to support herself and her two children after the death of her second husband. Boarding a boat in Florida she landed in Cuba as the world’s  first female war correspondent in 1898 during  the Spanish American War. She would work with the Toronto Mail newspaper until she retired. Her full page column not only discussed fashion but reported in her personal outspoken manner all the top topics of the day. She would be a member of a group of women reporters who went to the World’s Fair in 1904. It was during this trip that she helped found the Canadian Women’s Press Club.
1890's

Josephine Dandurand. née Marchand Born St John, New Brunswick 1862. Died 1925. Like most early women writers she would use a pen name to sign her writing. She was known as Josette. A strong feminist she championed the role of women in Quebec society. In 1892 she founded le coin de feu which was the first women’s literary review in Canada. She was also a strong orator and was often called the female Laurier. Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier. He had a reputation as a great orator so it was a strong comparison for Josephine. In 1898 she was the first Canadian woman to be made an officer of the French Academy in France. In 1900 she was the government appointed Canadian Commissioner to the famous Paris Exhibition. In 1901 in her work, Two systems of art, she proposed government provide funding for the arts. This was a full 50 years before the Canada Council of the Arts.

Winnifred Eaton. Onoto Watanna Born Montreal, Quebec. 1875. Died April 8, 1954. She was the 8th child of 14 children of a British silk merchant and a Chinese mother, Grace, who had lived with missionaries. Both she and her older sister would take to the art of writing. Winnifred was a writer in many arenas from newspaper articles, magazines and journals, short stories, successful novels ( some of which became plays and movies) cookbooks, and movie scripts. She was 14 when she had her first newspaper article published. At seventeen she left home to wander to Jamaica and New York City. Although she was of Chinese she choose a Japanese pen name Onoto Watanna since Japanese novels were more popular. She married Bernard Babcock but the marriage was short lived. In 1917 she married Frances (Frank) Fournier Reeve and moved to settle to a ranch in Calgary Alberta for a couple of years before she once again had wanderlust ending up in Hollywood and New York once again. In 1932 she returned to her husband in Calgary to basically settle. She took an interest and founded the Little Theatre.  She was the first known writer of Asian descent to be published in America. Her first novel, Mrs Nomé of Japan was published in Chicago in 1899 and was republished in 1999. Her granddaughter Diane Birchall who wrote Onoto Watanna, a biography in 2001.

1900's

Sara Anne McLagan née Maclure. Born 1855, Belfast, Ireland. Died March 20, 1924, Vancouver, British Columbia. She came to New Westminster, British Columbia with her family in 1859 to join their father  a surveyor with the Royal Engineers. At 15 she was working for her father as a telegrapher. In 1875 she was promoted to the Victoria Office. She resigned in 1884 as the Victoria Office Manager. She married and the couple moved to Vancouver where she became a co-founder of The Vancouver Daily World  newspaper with her husband James C. McLagan. After his death in 1901, she continued as president and editor, publishing with her brother Frederick S. Maclure (1864 – 1941).She is considered to be the first woman newspaper editor. She sold her successful paper in 1905 but continued to write about women’s issues. She was one of the original founders in 1904 of the Canadian Women’s Press Club and helped to set up the British Columbia Institute of Journalists. She was a founding member in 1894 of the Local Council of Women in Vancouver, serving as president 1898-1900. From 1903-1907 she was the provincial Vice-principle of the National Council of Women. Working with Lady Aberdeen’s Victorian Order of Nurses a training home for nurses was established in the city. She was also a founding member and president of the Art, Historical and Scientific Association as well as a worker with the I.O.D.E. and the YWCA.  Source: “Sara Anne McLagan” by Linda Hale, Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Online (Accessed December 2012)

Annie L. Jack(née Hayr)  Born Northampton, England January 1, 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.  
Emily Pauline Johnson.  Born Six Nations Indian Reserve, Canada West (Ontario) March 10, 1861. Died March 7, 1913. Canada’s first renowned native poet she was also the first native born cultural ambassador. She was working towards unity for all peoples and the land when most settlers were only thinking of human unity.  She took her works all over Europe where she performed her readings in her native dress. Her native name was Tekahionwake. She was the first woman honoured by Canada Post to be featured on a Canadian postage stamp in 1961.
1910's
Annette Frémont. (Baptized Marie Jeanne Annie Saint-Amant) Born July 1, 1892 L’Avenir, Quebec. Died August 4, 1928, Winnipeg, Manitoba. She was educated by the sisters of L’Assomption and L’Ecole Norman (Teacher’s College) Laval graduating with diplomas in both English and French. She was diagnosed with tuberculosis and spent 2 years at a sanatorium in New York State, U.S.A. During this time she occasionally sent articles to newspapers in Montreal. In 1914, back in Canada she and her sister, Marie moved to Gravelbourg Saskatchewan to teach. In 1918 the editor of the first French language newspaper in the province, La Patriote de l”Ouest,  sought Annette out to become the editor of the women’s page. Annette moved to Prince Albert Saskatchewan and became the 1st francophone woman journalist in Saskatchewan. Her writings reached rural women throughout the province and her works included poems, stories along with helpful hints. Soon she created a second column, Le Coin des Enfants which encouraged children to write. On December 26, 1918 she married Donatien Frémont (  -1967) the assistant editor of the paper. The couple had one child. In 1923 the family moved to St. Boniface, Manitoba where Donatien was Chief Editor for La Liberté Annette soon became editor for the women’s section. After her death, Donatien produced a collection of her writings, L’ Art d’être heureuse. (Montréal 1929. Sources: Herstory, the Canadian Women’s Calendar 2006 Coteau Books, 2005; Dictionary of Canadian Biography online Accessed April 2013.
1940's

Gwethalyn Graham (real name Gwethalyn Graham Erichse-Brown).  Born January 18, 1913.  This author would use only her first 2 names. 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.

1980's

Mitiarjuj Nappaaluk. Born Kangiqusujuaq, Quebec. An esteemed story teller whose stories and legends have been broadcast for years on the CBC radio she draws on her traditional upbringing. She had her feet firmly planted in both the traditions of her people and the modern worlds. As an author she is the first author to publish a novel in the Inuktitul language. She has translated the Roman Catholic Book of Prayer into Inuktitut so that her people my learn in their own language. She has compiled an encyclopedia of traditional Inuit knowledge, legends and natural history so that the traditional spoken knowledge may be passed to all who seek knowledge of the unique culture of her people. In 1999 she received an National Aboriginal Achievement Award for her contributions to heritage and spirituality.

Gwendolyn Ringwood.  (née Phares) Born Anatone, Washington U.S.A. August 13, 1910. Died May 24, 1984. In 1941 she received the Governor General's Award for outstanding service to Canadian drama. She was the first Canadian playwright to publish a volume of collected plays in 1982.

Gabrielle Roy. Born March 22, 1909. Died July 13, 1983. As a young woman she trained as a teacher at the Winnipeg Norma School (Teachers College). Between 1929 and 1937 she would teach in the backwoods of Manitoba and would later record and publish her memories her experiences in La Petit Poule  d'eau. This novel would become a stable for English Canadian school children to read in their French language classes. A 3 time winner of the Governor General’s Award in Literature in 1947, 1957 and 1977, as well as international award holder, she is one of the most important Canadian writers of the Post World War II Era in Canada. Some of her works have been translated into 15 different languages. In 1947, the year she won her first Governor General Award for Bonheur d'occasion ( translated into English as the Tin Flute) , she became  the first woman elected into the Royal Society of Canada.
Margaret Marshall Saunders. Born Milton, Nova Scotia April 13, 1861. Died February 15, 1947.  Margaret originally wrote under the name Marshall Saunders to hide her identity. While it was just becoming somewhat respectable for women to be writers when Margaret was publishing her works, writings by women were not best sellers. In 1894 she wrote Beautiful Joe, a story of an abused dog, for a competition sponsored by the American Humane Society.  It won first prize! Beautiful Joe would  became the first Canadian book to sell more than 1,000,000 copiesIt was translated into more than 14 different languages.

Audrey Grace Thomas. Born Binghamton, New York, U.S.A. November 17, 1935. Educated in the U.S.A. and Scotland, this writer taught in England prior to moving to Canada to continue her studies to earn her MA at the University of British Columbia. She has published numerous short stories and full length novels. She was the first Canadian Woman to be invited to serve as Writer in Residence and the University of Edinbourough in Scotland.

back to the top