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 2000
Canadian Women of Achievement.
Born March 19, 1649. She
took her vows as a nun on October 27, 1671. She was
Canadian born woman to become a religious sister. She would become bursar and superior of the Hospitalièrs of Montreal. She was also one
of the first women writers in
New France. She wrote the annals of the Hotel Dieu (1697-1725) and her own memoirs.
She was a heroic woman, a true product of the early days of
née Marie Guyant. Born October 28, 1599 Tours, France.
Died April 30, 1672. Widowed within two years of her marriage she
decided to raise her infant son before dedicating herself to religious
life. She read about Canada in the famous Jesuit Relations and decided it
was the place for her to be. She arrived in New France
1639 She served
the little community by founding and
becoming the 1st
Superior of the Ursuline Order of Canada.
An expert in several native languages she translated religious books and
created devotions for her native students in their own language. Her
personal letters are a valuable source of French Canadian history.
Born April 13,
Massachusetts, U.S.A. Died July 20, 1758. When she was 20
she was captured by the Abenakis, the Indian allies of the French during
the war against the British. She was taken to Ville Marie (Modern
Montreal) where she became accustomed so much to life in New France that
she refused to return to the US when captives were exchanged at the end of
the war. She embraced the religion of her new home and entered life as a
nun in 1695 as Sister Sainte-Madeleine. In a romantic novel, author Helen
A. McCarthy called her
"the 1st American
Marie-Léone (Elodie) Paradis. Born May 12, 1840 L'Acadie,
Lower Canada. Died May 3,
1912. In 1854, at the age of 14 she presented herself at a convent near
Montreal. In August 1857 she took
her vows under the name of Sister Marie-de-Saint-Léon. She served in
Quebec, and in the USA in New York and Michigan. She soon found herself
in the Canadian Maritimes in Acadia,
where in 1874 she was chosen to direct a group of novices in New
Brunswick. The Holy Cross Fathers in the region were desperate for help to
educate the Acadians of the region. They could not afford to pay lay
teachers. This energetic and devoted woman is credited with infusing
energies and saving the
Acadian culture in the region. Returning to Quebec in 1895 she sought
support and recognition for her order of Little Sisters of the Holy
Family, which would help priest with educational needs. . Official
recognition came in 1896. Elodie Paradis was beautified in
on September 11, 1984, by Pope John Paul ll during his Canadian Visit.
She was the 1st Canadian Woman to be
beautified (the first step in the process to becoming a saint
in the Roman Catholic Church)
soil. Pope John Paul ll made the declaration during his
Avonbank, Ontario. Died 1913. She earned a teaching certificate and
taught school in Perth County, Ontario. Deciding to enter into mission
work she was accepted as a candidate with the Women’s Mission Society to
be sent to India. In 1883 she graduated from the Women’s Medical College
in Kingston, Ontario and was valedictorian for her class.
In 1886 she became one of the 1st
women to go to India as a medical missionary sailing for India on
October 7, 1886. She was
stationed at the mission at Indore where the missionaries had rooms to
live right beside the medical dispensary. It was not long before she was
taking weekly trips to Ujjain one of India’s oldest and most sacred
cities. In 1888 she took charge of the Girl’s School in Indore. In 1892
she was also working at the new Women’s Hospital that was set up in
Indore. She returned home to Canada on furlough and at that time cared
for her ill mother. By 1894 she was once again
back working in India retiring in 1913 and returning home to Canada.
Lydia Emelie Gruchy.
Born 1895 Paris,
France. She and her family emigrated to Canada to homestead in
Saskatchewan. When her brother, who was studying for the ministry, died in
World War l, Lydia decided to study for the ministry and do whatever a
woman could do. She graduated with top honours from St Andrew's College,
Saskatoon. She worked as a minister's assistant, as women were not allowed
to be full ministers. in 1926 she requested ordination and was refused.
She would repeat her request every two years. In November 1936 she was
ordained at St Andrew's Church, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, becoming the
1st woman in
to be a minister in the United Church of Canada.
She continued her work in the church until she retired in 1962.
Born 1909, Glenallen, Ontario. Died 1998. Addie attended the
medical Missionary College and the Toronto Bible College. In
1951 She became
ordained Black woman in Canada. She served in British Methodist Episcopal Churches in Toronto,
Halifax, Nova Scotia and Owen Sound, Ontario.
Addie Aylestock . David Spencer Educational Pages
education.davidspencer.ca (Accessed December 2011)
|Norah Louise Hughes.
Born 1905, Portsmouth, England. Died July 28, 1989 British Columbia. In
1921 she and her family immigrated to Canada and settled in Abbotsford
area of British Columbia. Norah attended the University of British
Columbia where she earned and Bachelor of Science degree in
Microbiology. In 1937 she became a candidate for the ministry in the
United Church of Canada. In 1940 she earned a Bachelor of Divinity
degree from Union College and went on to earn her PhD from the
University of Chicago in the U.S.A. In
she was elected as the
1st woman to be head of a Conference in the United Church
representing the geographical area of British Columbia.
Source: British Columbia Conference of the United Church of Canada. Rev.
Dr. Norah Louise Hughes Accessed February 20 2017.
1914, Toronto, Ontario. Died 2004, Toronto, Ontario. Both her parents
died when she was young and she was raised by her uncle and found
herself drawn to her Anglican religious community. She trained to become
a Deaconess in the church and did mission work in areas of rural
Saskatchewan. When attending Synod area meeting she was so shy she asked
male colleagues to ask questions or make a point on her behalf. While
National Synod passed the idea of accepting women as priests the diocese
of Rupert’s Land was not do inclined and refused to ordain women. It was
not until 1971 that the path
was cleared for Ina to become the 1st
woman in Saskatchewan to be ordained as a deacon and 5 years later she
was called to the Priesthood. In the early 1980’s she retired
to live in Toronto where she as an Honorary Assistant at Little Trinity
Anglican Church until her death. Source: Herstory; The Canadian
Women’s Calendar 2010.
Kapila. Born April 4, 1924,Sahnewal, India. Died November 15, 2013,
Toronto, Ontario. Her family moved to British Kenya where they lived in
the segregated Indian community. The family could not afford to send
Sarla to England to University as she wanted so she became a teacher in
Nairobi, Kenya. While teaching she cared for her parents and her
brothers. In 1946 she married Gobind Bedi. The couple were married over
60 years and had 4 children. In 1972, seeking to escape unrest in East
Africa the family immigrated to Canada and settled in Toronto.
In 1976 Sarla became the 1st woman to be registered as a
Hindu priest in Ontario. She enjoyed serving her Hindu faith
community. She was proud of her new home and new life and refused to
move to the U.S.A. with her son in her later years, preferring to stay
at home in Toronto.
Lives Lived: Sarla Bedi by Nilam Bedi. Globe and Mail May 7, 2014.
Suggestion submitted by June Coxon, Ottawa, Ontario.
(née Freeman) Born
1927. After 15 years as a homemaker she became an ordained minister in
the United Church of Canada. In 1976 she became
1st woman president of the Canadian Council
of Churches, and in 1980 she was appointed the first woman to the top
position of Moderator of the
She is a member of the Order of Canada and has received the Pearson Peace
Prize and the World Federalist Peace Award.
Born April 17, 1620 Troyes, France. Died January 12, 1700. She Came to Canada as a nun to work
in the colony of New France. She would founded the Congregation de Notre-Dame de
Montreal to encourage young women to work
for their community with Devine guidance. The Sisters taught and set up
schools in New France. Today the order has several thousand members and has expanded their
work to the USA and Japan. Mother Marguerite Bourgeoys was the
1st woman in
be canonized (declared a Saint
in the Roman Catholic Church),
October 31, 1982.
Born April 16 1823 Saint-Martin (Laval) Lower Canada (Quebec). Died
January 1902. In December 1843 she entered the service of the Sisters
of Providence in Montreal. She volunteered, with four others, to be a
missionary in the
and Canada western territories. She would be the power behind the
establishment of some 10 schools, 2 orphanages, 15 hospitals, an asylum
and home for the aged. In 1866 she was in charge of building and financing
missions in the Canadian and American West. She would set out on "begging
tours" in the Canadian and American west to finance the institutions that
the order would build. Because of her contribution in designing and
building institutions she is considered to be one of the first architects
in the northwest and is also recognized as an early artisan who used
native northwest woods. The state of Washington gave her national
prominence in 1980 when her statue was placed in Statuary Hall in
Washington D.C., as an historic leader of Washington State. She is the
fifth woman and the 1st Catholic sister
represented in the
United States gallery of "first citizens."
Born 1656 Ossernenon,
Died St-Francois-Xavier Mission (Kahnawake)
New France (Quebec)
April 17 1680. She became a baptized Christian in 1676 and a year later
moved to Kahnawake. In 1679 the Jesuits gave her permission to take a vow
of chastity. She died after a prolonged illness. Her relics are preserved
in a shrine at Kahnawake and numerous miracles have since been reported.
She was beatified, a major step in the Roman Catholic Church of the
process to being declared a Saint, on June 22, 1980.
She is the 1st North American Native
candidate for sainthood in the Catholic Church.
back to the top