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Famous Canadian Women

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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 2000 Canadian Women of Achievement.

Business Women     
Leila Wightman. née Schnurr. Born Mildmay, Ontario January 29, 1899. Died Clifford, Ontario November 22, 1976. .On October 14, 1925 Leila married Benjamin Wightman of Wightman Communications in Clifford, Ontario. His Father, Robert Wightman, had been a frustrated farmer whom Bell Telephone could not serve. Robert set up his own company in 1908 so he and his neighbors, could have a telephone. Leila acted as lead operator and office administrator for the telephone company after her marriage to Benjamin.  At the same time the couple brought up a family of four children. In 1947 Benjamin died and Leila decided to keep the company going. This made her the first woman telephone company owner. In 1953 she instituted the superior 4-diget dial service while the much larger Bell Telephone Company systems which were still cranking the old magneto telephones. The new system was the most modern of its day and heralded the arrival of 24 hour service telephone service. Leila had set the company on the path to modernization that kept the company going. Leila was inducted as member of the Telecommunications Hall of Fame in 2006.  Sources: Telecommunications Hall of Fame http://telecomehall.ca (Accessed October 2011)  ; also family provided vital information.
Clare Margaret Haddad. C Bardwell. Born July 17, 1924 Toronto, Ontario. Died May 17, 2016 Toronto, Ontario. Claire’s family business was sewing clothing with  her mother ,Rose was an accomplished seamstress. By the age of 10 Claire had taught herself how to sew on her mother’s machine. After hight school she to a one year drafting course at Northern Vocational School and then took courses at the Toronto School of Design. She also took courses by home study with the New York Fashion Academy in the U.S.A. She went on to study at the Galasso School of Design, Toronto. When she was 20 she married Albert Haddad and the coupe had two daughters. She worked at the father’s factory  and her name even appeared  labels as designer. On the death of her father in 1954, her husband took over running the family business. Claire soon branched out with a lingerie business called Clare Haddad Ltd, in which Albert did the administration. Soon the couple were receiving invitations to show designs which were sold in establishments such as Hudson Bay Company, Eaton’s, Holt Renfrew and Simpson’s In the 1960’s she designed for such dignitaries as the actor Liz Taylor. In 1967 she was the 1st Canadian to be awarded the Coty American Fashion Critics Award. In 1968 her company was one of the 1st Canadian manufacturers to be featured in Vogue Magazine.  In 1984 she signed with Kayes-Roth Canada which had established offices in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas in the U.S.A In 1979 she was inducted as a Member of the Order of Canada.  Clare retired in 1985. Some of her works are held at the Royal Ontario Museum, the School of Fashion and Seneca College.
Barbara G. Stymiest. Born June 13, 1956 Barbara graduated from Richard Ivey School of Business in 1978. She became the youngest partner in the accounting firm of Ernst& Young when she was 30. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario called her a trailblazer for women in business. .  This businesswoman held the Senior Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of Nesbit Burns Inc. from 1992 to 1999. It was during this time that she was the 1st woman in North America to be Governor of a Stock Exchange. In 1999 she became President of the Toronto Stock Exchange! In 2000 she was on the top 10 list of Canadian businesswomen presented by the National Post. She was named one of Fortune's 50 most powerful women in business three times. In 2010 she carried the Olympic torch in the relay leading up to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. She is married to James M. Kidd.
Maureen Kempston Durkes. Born July 31, 1948, Toronto.  She graduated with a B.A. from the University of Toronto and in 1978 earned her Bachelor of Law prior to being called to the Bar in Ontario. In 1975 she joined the legal staff of General Motors Canada. By 1992 she had risen through the ranks to become General Council and Secretary of General Motors Canada. In 1994 she became the 1st woman President and General Manager of General Motors Canada. In 1997 she earned the Women’s Automotive International Professional Achievement Award and in 1998 she was inducted into the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada. In 2003 Fortune Magazine listed her as the 6th most powerful person in International Business. In 2006 she was presented with the Governor’s General Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case. In 2009 just as she retired from General Motors Canada she was ranked as one of Latin America’s 100 most powerful business people. During her career she has served on numerous Boards of Directors including  with Canadian National Railways, Irving Oil Co. Ltd, Balfour Beatty and Enbridge. In 2011 the Automotive Hall of Fame and Women’s Automotive Association International presented her with the Alice B. Ramsey Award. In 2012 she was the recipient of Financial Post’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women IN Canada: Accenture Corporate Directors Award. Source: Canadian Who’s Who 2006 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007) : “Top 100 Most Powerful Women In Canada: Accenture Corporate Directors Award” , Financial Post December 4, 2012