Wife of a Prime Minister
née Bethune. Born 1823. (sometimes
reported as October 1824) Died February 25, 1898. She
married a young lawyer John Joseph Caldwell Abbott (1821-1893) July 26,
1849. He was also a businessman, educator, politician who would become
the 3rd Prime Minister of Canada 1891-1893. They would have
eight children together. Raising four daughters and four sons no doubt kept
this young woman completely occupied. She had no love of politics but
supported her husband in his political career. No doubt Mary was satisfied that his term in office
was somewhat short lasting from June 1891 until November 1892. She is the
most obscure wife of any Prime Minister in Canadian history.
She is a
relative of the famous Dr. Norman Bethune (1890-1939), the Canadian
physician who served in the Spanish Civil War and during the Chinese
Mary Ann Casey Abbott
Born September 15, 1855. Died April 28, 1931, Toronto, Ontario. Not much is
known about Mary Ann. She is listed as from Toronto and she married in
Toronto to Dr. Anderson Ruffin Abbott (1837-1913) the 1st Black
licensed physician in Canada. The couple settled 1st in Chatham
and had three daughters and 2 sons. Mary Ann took her family relocating
wherever her husband worked, Toronto, Oakville, Ontario and back to Toronto.
They Moved to Chicago in 1894 where Anderson was surgeon in chief at
Provident hospital and by 1897 they were once again in Toronto. Her story is
just one of the many untold stories of wives and mothers that are untold in
our history. Her husband’s story is well documented but only the name and
recorded dates of birth, marriage and death are written for Mary Ann.
a grave website. (Accessed February 2015).
Frances Elaine Aboud
Born February 7, 1947, Toronto, Ontario.
She earned her BA at the University of Toronto and her M.A. and PhD at
McGill University in Quebec. She has been a professor at the Department of
Psychology at McGill University since 1975. She has also held positions at
the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research at Western Washington University and
has done research and teaching in Ethiopia as part of the McGill-Ethiopia
Community Health Project with various visits between 1988 through 1994. She
has written a book : Children and Prejudice (1988).
Bluma Levett Appel
Born September 4, 1919 (sometimes reported as 1920), Montreal, Quebec. Died
July 15, 2007 Toronto, Ontario. She arrived in Canada with her Russian
parents in the early 1900’s .Even as a youth growing up in Montreal Bluma
recognized the value and the need for volunteering. She became a gifted
fundraiser and sat on boards of directors and donated to dozens of art
organizations including the Canadian Opera Company, Canadian Stage, National
Gallery of Canada, Necessary Angels Theatre Company, and the Royal Ontario
Museum. On July 11, 1940 she married a chartered accountant Bram Appel and
with his financial success Bluma was able to not only volunteer but support
philanthropic ventures. The couple had 2 sons. She was the personal
representative for Marc Lalande the Minister responsible for the Status of
Women in 1972. She got every
bank in Canada to put a woman in their board of directors in 1975. In 1979
she was an unsuccessful Liberal Party candidate for the House of Commons in
the Nepean-Carleton Riding (Ottawa area). In March 1983 the St. Lawrence
Centre for the Arts in Toronto named the Bluma Appel Theatre in her honour.
In the late 1980’s Bluma became part of the Planning Committee for the
Canadian Foundation for Aids Research (CANFAR) and created a Board of
Advisors and a Junior Committee as well as serving as Chair of the Executive
Committee until her death. In 1988 she became a Member of the Order of
Canada and in 1998 she was awarded the Order of Ontario. In 2001 she was
elevated to Officer of the Order of Canada In June 2005 she was presented
with an honorary Dora Mavor Moore Award for her lifelong dedication to the
performing arts in Canada. In 2007 The Canadian Club named her Canadian of
Herstory; The Canadian Woman’s Calendar. 2010.
Karen Diane Baldwin
Born London, Ontario 1963. In 1981 she was
crowned Miss London in a city beauty pageant but she was destined for more.
July 26, 1982 she was crowned Miss Universe at the pageant held in Peru. She
was the first Canadian to become Miss Universe. For awhile, back in Canada,
she hosed a Canadian fashion and lifestyle TV program called The New You.
She married and is mother of two children. The family have settled in Los
Mary Eleanor Nichols Bales
Born March 19, 1942, Indiana, U.S.A. Died December 12, 2014, Hamilton,
Ontario. In 1969 Mary earned her B.A. at the University of New Mexico,
Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A. and moved to Canada to earn her M.A. in 1972
from the University of Waterloo, Kitchener, Ontario. In 1974 she chose the
career to be in Real Estate. She spent 21 years with Caldwell Banker
residential Real Estate. In 1980’s she lead a fundraising campaign for
Mary’s Place and served with the Board of the Kitchener Public Library, the
United Way Campaign, the YWCA and the Community Foundation. She served as a
member of the Board of Governors at the University of Waterloo and the
National Alumni Council of the University of Waterloo. She would be the
Zonta Club’s Woman of the Year. In 1994 she was top producer in Canada in a
network of 4,000 real estate agents. From 1998 through 2002 she was on the
Board of the Grand River Hospital and in 2002 she funded Heartwood Place
providing affordable housing for individuals and families. That same year
she was presented with the University of Waterloo Arts Alumni Achievement
Award, the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, and Oktoberfest Woman of the year and
Community Leader recognition from the Chamber of Commerce. In 2006 she
received the Meritorious Service Award from the Governor General of Canada.
In 2007 she received the Realtor Merit Award from her local Real Estate
Globe and Mail
December 17, 2014.
Suggestion submitted by June Coxon, Ottawa, Ontario.
McDermott. Born 1830, Manitoba. Died May 14, 1908, Winnipeg, Manitoba. On
August 19, 1851 Annie Married Andrew Graham Bannatyne a general merchant.
Their first son was born in 1852 but sadly died the following year during a
visit to Scotland. The couple would have 9 more children and Annie would
outlive 7 of them. Annie was a well known worker for various charity
including the building of Winnipeg’s 1st hospital. Annie was a
proud Métis and she stood up for the Métis women , many of who had married
white men in the community like herself. A local man by the name of Charles
Mair was a well known bigot. Some of his offending remarks about Métis women
were published in an article the Toronto Globe and Mail. Mair came to the
Bannatyne store every Saturday to gather his mail. When Annie heard he was
in the store she arrived a whip in hand. She lashed Mair several times
claiming that this is how women handled such comments. Mair would hear about
his humiliation for several decades after the event.
Source: Annie Bannatyne, 1834-1910 in Metis Resource Centre
metisresourcecentre.mb.ca (Accessed March 2013)
Bronislawa "Betty" Barban
September 3, 1913, Przemysl, Austria (Now part of Poland) Died June 26,
2013, St John’s Newfoundland. She fled from the Nazis in Vienna just prior
to World War ll. In Shanghai, where she married Andreas Barban (…-1993) in
1939. Shanghai was the only country in the world at this time that did not
have any immigration restrictions. After the war, in 1947 the couple settled
in Newfoundland and opened a piano studio in their house. She looked after
the business side of the work while he took his music to the radio, worked
with Kiwanis Music Festival. The couple arranged community concerts and he
was the 1st conductor of the St John Symphony Orchestra.
“She helped bring classical arts to St John’s”. by Joan Sullivan, The
Globe and Mail July 15, 2013. Suggested by June Coxon, Ottawa, Ontario.
Elsie Catherine Barclay
Born October 22, 1902 Joliet, Illinois, U.S.A. Died1985, Calgary, Alberta.
In 1905 George and Elsie Barclay brought their 3 children to homestead in
Lacombe, Alberta. The children grew up loving the outdoor and exploring the
countryside. The family was not destined to earn a living by working the
land and by 1913 the bankrupt family relocated to Calgary, Alberta. The
children however never lost their love for the outdoors. Catherine and her
older sister Mary established the first youth Hostel at Bragg Creek,
Alberta. They wanted others to enjoy the outdoor life of their beautiful
province. The first hostel was a plain ten but it soon grew to a tent with a
wooden door and creates that served as shelves for storage. By 1939, only 6
years after pitching their first tent there were 16 hostels between Banff
and Calgary. Catherine attended the University of Alberta, studying English
and French. Before it was in vogue she was a champion of bilingualism. In
the summers she helped create and encourage student exchanges between Quebec
and Alberta. She even attended the famous Sorbonne in France to improve her
French. She would earn a masters from Columbia University in New York,
U.S.A. She had attended normal school (teacher’s college0 and taught at the
Banff School of Fine arts becoming involved in drama and theatre. . In 1973
Mary and Catherine were Citizens of the Year in Calgary. In 1975 the sisters
were presented the Richard Schirrman Medal in recognition of their work in
Canada by the American Hostelling Association. The University of Calgary
created the E. Catherine Barclay Scholarship supporting students wishing to
study in France.
Source: 100 more Canadian heroines by Merna Forster, Dundurn Press, 2011.
Mary Belle Barclay
Born July 30, 1901 Joliet, Illinois, USA. Died 2000 Calgary, Alberta. In
1905 George and Elsie Barclay brought their 3 children to homestead in
Lacombe, Alberta. The children grew up loving the outdoor and exploring the
countryside. The family was not destined to earn a living by working the
land and by 1913 the bankrupt family relocated to Calgary, Alberta. The
children however never lost their love for the outdoors. May with her sister
Catherine established 6the first youth Hostel, a tent, in North America in
1933 at Bragg Creek, Alberta. Membership was $1.00 plus 25 cents a night.
The area would eventually be declared an Historic Site by Parks Canada in
2012. By 1939, only 6 years after pitching their first tent there were 16
hostels between Banff and Calgary. Off season Mary and Catherin attended
Normal School, (Teacher’s College) and began teaching in schools around the
countryside. Mary attended the University of Chicago but after a year
transferred to the University of Toronto and obtained her B.A. She returned
to Alberta and served as principal in several schools. The summers however
sere still used to build hostelling within the province and indeed across
the country. In 1973 Mary and Catherine were Citizens of the Year in
Calgary. In 1975 the sisters were presented the Richard Schirrman Medal in
recognition of their work in Canada by the American Hostelling Association.
In 1987 Mary was invested with the Order of Canada. In 1998 the Banff Hostel
built the Mary Belle Barclay Building. A far cry from the first tent was
Source: 100 more Canadian heroines by Merna Foster, Dundurn Press. 2011 :
Mary Belle Barclay: founder of Canadian Hostelling by Evelyn Edgeller,
Detselig Enterprises Ltd., 1988 PDF format
Elizabeth Jane "Eliza" Barns "The Witch of Plum Hallow"
Born Ireland 1800?. Died 1893. She ran away from home as a
young girl and was not long before she was married. She emigrated to Canada
and settled in Eastern Ontario in the area of Plum Hollow in 1843. Married a
second time to a David Barnes they would have 9 children. In her old age she
became known as Granny Barnes, the witch of Plum Hollow. She was described
as an amazing clairvoyant. She helped local farmers find missing livestock
and her physic powers helped solve a murder resulting in the execution of
Edgar Doxtater was executed. Her fame spread when she began to tell
fortunes. The fame earned income to help the family and led to her becoming
a legend. Source: Legends Told in Canada By Edith
Joan is also known as “Bunky” . She is a therapeutic Clown. In 1993 she
launched Ontario’s first therapeutic clown program at Toronto Sick Kids
Hospital. In 1999 she was a co-founder and director of the Therapeutic
Clowns Canada Foundation. It is a non-profit organization created to bring
therapeutic clowning to major Canadian pediatric facilities. In 2005 Joan
was a founding member of the Canadian Association of Therapeutic Clown /
l’association Canadienne des clowns therapeudiques. In 2007 therapeutic
Clowns of Canada disbands because its mandate to take the program national
has been met.
Suggestion submitted by Fran Herman.
née Rosillon. Born 1948, Luluabourg, Belgian Congo. She moved
with her family to Belgium in 1958 where she studied at secondary school and
university. In Brussels she would meet and in 1985 marry Canadian diplomat
James Bartleman. She has been a full partner to her husband in his position
as head of Canadian Missions to the European Economic Union, Australia and
Brussels, and his appointment as Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. She is the
Honorary President of the provincial chapter of the Independent Order of the
Daughters of the Empire (I.O.D.E), an honorary member of the University Women's
Club, Toronto and was appointed an Officer in the Order of St John and an
Honorary Detective in the Toronto Police Service. She received the Queen's
Golden Jubilee Medal.
Norma Marion Beechcroft
Born April 11, 1934, Oshawa, Ontario. Norma grew up in an musical
environment with her father a musician and her mother having been trained in
music and dance. As a youth she studied piano. In 1954 she worked as a
script assistant for CBC music programming. She earned a bursary with the
Royal Conservatory of Music in 1957-8 and continued her studies in
composition with a scholarship at the Berkshire Music Center. She studied in
Rome and in 1961 she received an Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Scholarship. She also studied in Germany and England. Returning to Canada
she studied electronic music at the University of Toronto and at the
Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Centre in New York, U.S.A. In 1963-4 she
also returned to work at various positions at the CBC. She resigned in 1969
to begin a freelance career as a producer and commentator on contemporary
music. In 1971 she co-founded New Music Concerts where she served as
president and general manager. In 1976 her documentary The Computer in Music
won a Major Armstrong Award for excellence in FM broadcasting. From
1984-1987 she taught music at York University, Toronto. In 2002 she was
awarded an honorary membership in the Canadian Acoustic Community.
Source: Canadian Encyclopedia, Online.
7, 1928, Calgary, Alberta. Jenny married Hyman Belzberg and the couple had
three children. From 1987 through 1991 she was Chair of the Banff Centre for
the Arts. She served for 14 years with the Calgary Philharmonic Society. She
also volunteered with the Royal Conservatory of Music Foundation and the
National Council of Jewish Women. In 1997 she received the Queens Jubilee
Medal for her volunteer work. In 2000 she was inducted into the Alberta
Order of Excellence. And that year she served on the Board of Trustees,
National Arts Centre, Ottawa, Ontario. She has also received the Paul Harris
Fellow Medal from the Rotary Foundation.
Alberta Order of Excellence, Online Accessed May 2013.
Ellen Agnes Billbrough-Wallace
Home Child administrator
Born November 21, 1841, Leeds England. Died September 23, 1900, Belleville,
Ontario. In the 1860’s Ellen worked with philanthropist Annie Macpherson of
London England. Miss Macpherson was concerned with the “waifs” of London and
began to send children to Canada for a chance at a better life. Ellen
emigrated from England and set up Marchmont House, Belleville, Ontario,
Canada accepting the first immigrant children on May 13, 1870. The children
would arrive from England in groups often exceeding 100 at a time. From
Marchmount Ellen oversaw the distribution of the immigrant children to
either be adopted or contracted to work in homes and farms throughout the
province and even into the North-West Territories. The original Home was
destroyed by fire in 1872 and yet again a few years later. After the fires a
large brick building was constructed. In 1877 Annie Macpherson turned the
Marchmont Home entirely over to Ellen. In 1887 she married the Reverend
Robert Wallace and the couple continued to manage Marchmont. By the late
1880’s over 7000 children had passed through the Marchmont Distribution
Home. As a “Distribution” center Marchmont was used by various British child
welfare organizations including the Quarrier and Barnardo Homes who
eventually would establish their own distribution centres in Canada. While
many of the immigrant children would go on to lead health and productive
lives, research has shown than perhaps as many as half the children were
placed in unfortunate or abusive circumstances. One adopted child wrote to a
friend that she often saw Auntie and Uncle Wallace who brought gifts to her.
Other children were indentured out to work with monies being paid to the
Home until they reached 18. Although Ellen and Robert Wallace had people
sign contracts which required that the children be educated at least 4
months of the year, with reports from teacher, and that they be required to
attend Sunday Services and be provided with clothing, many situations were
not followed up. The home would be closed in August 1925, 25 years after
Sources: Various web sites on Marchmont Home including reports on
immigration in the Senate of Canada. (Accessed April 2014)
Emily Hilda Blake
Born 1877 England. Died December 27,1899. She was sent to Manitoba by an
English benevolent society. She became a domestic servant to the Lane family
of Brandon and in 1899 shot Mrs. Lane with a pistol, claiming she was
jealous of the mother’s relationship with her children. Tried for murder,
she was convicted in five minutes and sentenced to be hanged.
began a movement for clemency, which insisted Blake was “morally degenerate”
and suffered from “moral insanity.” Blake was hanged on 27 December 1899,
the last woman executed in Manitoba.
Walk Towards the Gallows: The Tragedy of Hilda Blake, Hanged 1899
by Reinhold Kramer and
University of Toronto Press, 2007. : Source:
Manitoba Biography by
J. M. Bumsted
University of Manitoba Press, 1999. Memorable Manitobans Online Accessed
Wife of a Prime Minister
née Bond. November 26, 1889 Halifax, Nova Scotia. Died September 8, 1940
Ottawa, Ontario. On September 25, 1889 she married an up and coming young
lawyer, Robert Laird Borden (1854-1937). He would become the 8th
Prime Minister of Canada serving from 1911-1920. Robert Borden was knighted
in 1914 giving Laura the title of Lady Borden. The couple did not have any
children. She was well known for being a gracious host. The terms of
affability and graciousness have been used to describe the woman. Like her
she was a proud Canadian and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
presented her with an automobile in gratitude for her contribution providing
other nations with a view of the Canadian identity while her husband was in
office. At the Paris Peace talks ending World War l Canada was represented
by Sir Robert and Canada was allowed to sign the treaty along with and as a
separate entity to Great Britain.
Harriet Louise Bowell
Wife of a Prime Minister
Born May 11, 1828. Died 1884. On December 23, 1847 , in Belleville, Upper
Canada, she married Mackenzie Bowell (1823?-1917) who at that time was a
partner with the newspaper, the Belleville Intelligencer, and who
would be Prime Minister of Canada 1894-1896. The couple has 9 children, 4
sons and 5 daughters.
The Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online (University of Toronto
Press) Accessed July 2013
Yvonne Madeline Brill
née Claeys. Born December 30, 1924, St Vita, (Winnipeg) Manitoba. Died March
27, 2013, Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.A. There were no facilities for women
at a mandatory camp for engineering students at the University of Manitoba
so Yvonne studied chemistry and Math and was 1st in her class.
She went on to post graduated studies and earned her Masters from the
University of Southern California. She began her engineering career at
Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, California, U.S.A. where she was one of
the only women working and the 1st American plans and projects
for satellites. In 1951 she married William Franklin Brill. The couple had
three children. Her career carried her across the country where in 1981
through 1983 she worked at the National Aero Space Administration (NASA).
She invented a propulsion system to help keep communication satellites in
their orbits which is still in use today in 2015. It was in the 1980’s that
Harper’s Bazaar magazine and DeBier Corporation presented her a
Diamond Superwoman Award for combining family life and successful career. In
2001 she was awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal which was
followed in 2002 with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Wyld Award. She also earned the American Association of Engineering
Societies John Fritz Medal which is the highest award in the engineering
profession. In 2010 she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of
Fame and in 2011 President Obama presented her the National Medal of
technology and Innovation. Superwoman indeed!
Source: Douglas Martin, Yvonne Brill,
a pioneering Rocket Scientists Dies at 88, in the New York Times
March 30, 3013: Memorable Manitobans Online. (Accessed June 2015)
Quebec. Died February 24, 2012. Marjorie married Gerald Bronfman and the
couple had four children. Marjorie was the driving force behind the Gerald
and Marjorie Bronfman Foundation which is well known for its extensive
charitable donations. A patron of the arts as well she donated not only
works of art but large financial contributions to numerous galleries
including the National Gallery of Canada. Marjorie was equally a giving with
her volunteer time. She was an active member of numerous boards of directors
for such organizations as the Université d Montréal, the McCord Museum, the
National Council of women of Canada, the Arthritis Society, the Mount Sinai
Hospital Corporation, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Ballets Jazz de
Montreal to name but a few. She established the Marjorie Bronfman chair for
Social Studies in Medicine at McGill in 2003 and little later a palliative
care centre at the Jewish General Hospital. Marjorie was a recipient of many
awards in recognition of her philanthropy including being inducted into the
Order of Canada in 2001.
Source: Obituary, The Gazette. February 25, 2012.
Mother of Confederation
Born 1827 or
1837?. Died May 6, 1906, Edinburgh, Scotland. Anne was the daughter of a
prominent publisher Thomas Nelson of Edinburgh. On November 27, 1862 she
married George Brown 1818-1880) a successful newspaper businessman of Upper
Canada. Historian Frank Underhill stressed that Brown, after his marriage
became an accommodating politician. He was known for his outstanding
political views which were often in opposition to those of Sir John A.
Macdonald (1815-1891), the 1st prime minister of Canada. George
and Anne had three children. She was no doubt a prominent hostess during the
Canadian Confederation era of the 1860’s. After the death of her husband
from being shot by a disgruntled employee Anne returned to Scotland with her
Boston (?) USA. She moved from Boston to Halifax with her father in the
1750’s. In 1751 he set up Canada’s first printing shop. Little is known
about Elizabeth’s life but there is some documentation that indicates that
she worked in the print shop from 1752 until the death of her father in
1761. On March 23, 1752 John Bushell, with the help of his daughter,
launched the Halifax Gazette. The press and Elizabeth were responsible for
printing of government documents as well as print jobs for local businesses.
She shares a place with her father in our history as establishing the first
printing office and the first newspaper in Canada. She may have returned to
the United States after the death of her father. It is known that her
brother ran a printing business in Boston until his death in 1797. She may
have worked with her brother.
Born October 21, 1909, Enoch, Alberta. She enjoyed various forms of dance
including tap and ballet. Her talents were put to use when she was ten and
she won all of Enoch’s Princess crowns. She went on to win a place in a
Hudson Bay Company commercial and appeared a a TV mini series as well as
doing some stage work. In Jun 2010 she was 2nd runner-up in the
Miss Universe Canada Pageant, the 1st member of the Cree Nation
to achieve such a position. She was the youth representative for the
Stollery Children’s Hospital. In September 2010 she won Miss Canada to
represent Canada in Miss Friendship International Pageant in Hubei, China.
She also represented Canada at the Queen of the World Final in Germany. In
October 2016 she was the representative from Canada at the Miss Humanity
International pageant in Barbados. In 2012 she took top honours at the Miss
World Canada. She is a student at university and is often a motivational
speaker at various venues including Harvard University in the U.S.A. In 2011
she earned the Role Model Award at the Dreamcatchers Gala, Calgary, Alberta.
As a model she posed for the cover poster for the ‘Fight the Violence’
advertisement to stop abuse in the home. In 2014 she worked the Catch the
Dream with Actor Adam Beech. August 29, 2015 she earned the title Miss
Universe the 1st First Nations woman to win this title.
Agnes Deans Cameron
Born December 20, 1863, Victoria, British Columbia. Died May 14, 1912.
(sometimes recorded death May 13, 1912)
A teacher, she was the first high school teacher and the first woman
principal in the Vancouver, British Columbia Area in 1994. This educator was
also a real life adventurer who would successfully write about her
explorations. In 1906 she was an elected school trustee in her home in
Victoria, British Columbia. She was dismissed from her teaching position
when she allowed a student to use a ruler in an art exam! In 1908 she made a
10,000 mile journey from Chicago to the Arctic Ocean including traveling
the famed Mackenzie River. In 1909 she published her record of her
experiences in "the New North" She would continue to write articles and
toured in a lecture circuit throughout North America with accounts of her
incredible northern journey. Read about her adventures: The New North: an
account of a woman’s 1908 journey through Canada and the arctic.
By Agnes Deans Cameron.
Source: The History of
Accessed June 2009)
Mary Agnes Joe Capilano
Born Potlatch Creek, Howe Sound, British Columbia. 1836. Died December 15,
1940. She was also known by the name Lay Kho-Lote, or Lahuliett (pronounced
Lay-yulette). A Squamish elder with a family background back to the landing
of George Vancouver she was the daughter of chiefs and earned the title of
Indian Princess of Peace. A great orator in the Squamish language she also
had great knowledge of the genealogy or of the western coastal tribes. All
her life she traveled by dugout canoe over dangerous First Narrows from her
tribal home and Vancouver. Many foreign dignitaries made sure to include a
visit to this leader during visits to the area.
Source The History of Metropolitan Vancouver
www.vancouverhistory.ca (accessed June 19, 2009)
Rosetta Ernestine Carr
Born 1845 (sometimes reported as 1844) Drummond Township, Upper Canada. Died
July 6, 1907, Ottawa, Ontario. As an adult she studies photography in New
York City and in Ottawa under the famed Canadian photographer William Notman. In 1883 she moved to Winnipeg and purchases Sears Photography. Not
wanting to have a photography business in the name of a woman she called her
establishment American Art Gallery. She became well known for her portraits
many of which she hand coloured in watercolours and oils. She photographed
personalities of the day such as Premier John Norquay, Catholic Archbishop
Antonin Taché as well as hospital nursing classes and other students. In
1889 she was given exclusive rights to photograph at the Winnipeg Industrial
Exhibition. Her competitors boycotted the showing and she won every
photography category at the show! She employed the latest technology in the
shop as well as the latest marketing savvy with special charges for baby
photos, offering coupons and special holiday discounts. There is little
information on her private life other than she did marry. She sold her
business in 1899 and soon moved to Ottawa, where she died in 1907.
Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Biography by Virginia G. Berry. Accessed
online March 2012.
Wife of a Prime Minister
Born May 17, 1936 Saint-Boniface-de-Shawinigan, Quebec. As a teen she met a
young man on a local bus and the relationship grew and blossomed. On
September 10, 1957 she married a young up and coming lawyer Jean Chrètien
(1934 - ) who would serve as the 20th prime minister of Canada from
1993-2003.The couple have three children and an adopted child. Aline is
fluent in 4our languages and while in her 50’s she began to take lessons and
earn of love of the piano. She became an active advocate of the Royal
Conservatory of Music in Toronto. She is extremely bashful often described
as having a quiet elegance. She may have shunned the limelight during her
husband’s political career but he admits that she is his confidant and
advisor. He often made jokes to the press about having to ask his wife
first. She was thrust into the headlines when on November 15, 1995 at the
Prime Minister’s official residence at 24 Sussex Dr., Ottawa, she was
laying awake and while her husband slept she interrupted an armed intruder
by shutting the bedroom door in his face! She was appointed as the first
chancellor of the bilingual institution, Laurentian University, in 2010.She
presides over convocation ceremonies, confers degrees, advises the president
and help promote the University.
Sources: Ottawa Women; milestones and mentors Online Accessed July
2012 ; Biography of Aline Chrètien by Lawrence Martin. Canada.com
July 12, 2002. Accessed 2012.
Kingston, Ontario. Most of her early childhood was spent in India. When she
returned to Canada she settled in Montreal, Quebec and earned her B.A. from
McGill University. She continued her studies at Université de Montreal
earning a M.A. in translation. She remained at the Université for 8 years
after graduation as a teacher. She is the founder and President of the
Literary Translators Association of Canada. In 1987 she won the Governor’s
General Award for translation for her translation from French to English of
Gabrielle Roy’s La Detress et l’enchantment = Enchantment and
Sorrow. In 199 she won her second Award by translating the Biography of
Gabrielle Roy. She has translated additional well respected authors
including works by former Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau.
Maria Lindsey Cobham
nee Lindsay. Born England. Maria Marie Eric Cobden. In 1740 she was a pirate
with a hideout on the west coast of Newfoundland. She preyed mostly on
French ships in the Gulf of St Lawrence.. She would kill all witnesses and
scuttle the ships she attacked. The ships would be recorded as lost at sea.
Her husband Eric supposedly wrote a confessional autobiography in France on
his deathbed in 1780. The document has never been found. A book was
published on the stories of the pirate husband and wife but their distraught
children destroyed all copies of the publication. Philip Grosse in is 1924
publication The Pirates Who’s Who included the story of this pirate team
saying they met in the seaport of Plymouth, England. Nor record of a
marriage can be found but they were life partners. Their ship was a 65 foot
long sloop of shallow draft of 8 feet which allowed top speed and entry to
shallow waters to escape pursuing ships. David E. Jones wrote Warrior
Woman in 1997 describing a Pirate queen doing her own share of killing.
After two decades at sea the couple retire to France as wealthy landowners
and had three children. An alcoholic who was considered crazy she
disappeared one day and her body was found at the base of a sea cliff. In
2009 Dan Colin included the couple in his work Pirates of the Atlantic:
Robbery, Murder, and Mayhem of the Canadian East Coast.
Source: Canada’s Pirate Queen. Canada’s History Online.
Mercy Anne Coles
(Note Anne is sometimes reported as Ann)
Born February 1, 1838, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Died February
11, 1921, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Not much is known about
mercy. She was one of 12 children of George Coles (1810-1875) and Mercy (née
Haines) Coles of P.E. I. Mercy would accompany her parents in 1864 to the
events leading up to Canadian Confederation. They travelled to Quebec City,
Montreal, and on to Niagara Falls. It is known from comments in documents
from Sir John A. Macdonald Canada’s 1st Prime Minister and a
political power figure in the years building up to Confederation that the
Coles’ daughters were attractive, well educated, and well informed. On his
part, at this time he was a widower who was considered quite eligible to
unattached women. At 26 years of age in 1864 when the Quebec Conference to
consider Canadian Confederation took place, Mercy would have been one of the
older unattached women. She was an ardent diarist and her legacy is that she
has left behind the scene details which serve to enliven the rather dry
political happenings of the day. There were numerous soirees, balls and
other social events that were used to court the visiting politicians to join
Canada but were also used by the unattached ladies, such as Mercy, to entice
courting from the eligible single politicians. Details such as those of the
ball of October 14, 1864, hosted by Governor General Lord Monck in the
Parliament Buildings were recorded by Mercy with particular attention paid
to these unattached gentlemen. Alas Marcy did not gain a suitor for the
described events but remained single living out her life in Charlottetown.
Sources: Anne McDonald, Mercy Coles of PEI in Canada’s History
August-September 2014 ; Ancestry Canada Accessed June 2015)
Very little is known about Chloe Cooley, but her importance to Black history
in Canada and to the abolitionist movement is great. On March 14, 1793,
sold Chloe to another man who lived on the American side of the Niagara
River. Chloe did not want to be sold. She resisted the sale.
and William Grisley saw Chloe being sold, and her struggle to stay in Upper
Canada. They reported this incident to the Executive Council of Upper
John Graves Simcoe
(1752-1806) was angered by this sale. Simcoe did not support slavery. This
incident led Simcoe to have a new law passed on July 9, 1793, that prevented
anyone buying a slave and bringing them into Upper Canada. While the new law
did not abolish slavery, and settlers could still bring up slaves that they
already owned, this was the first legal effort to end slavery in Upper
Source: Slavery in Canada. Online
Born Saint-Vallier, Quebec May 14, 1733. Died on
the gallows April 18(?) 1763. She has become simply known as La Corriveau.
After two trials she was condemned to death for murdering her second husband
Louis Dodier in January 1763. She was, as the law provided, hung and her
body exposed in chains. Her body was exposed for about a month in an iron
cage, The cage would be found in a graveyard in 1850. Writings over the
years drew on the story as a base. These stories never quite separated
facts and fiction. Legends grew and are still recounted as fantastic tales.
Helen Mary Creighton
September 5, 1899, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Died 1989. She studied music at
McGill University in Montreal in 1915 and attended the Halifax Ladies
College in 1916. During WW1 she worked as a military chauffeur. After the
war she worked as a journalist and a children’s radio show host in Halifax
and then took off on an adventure to teach in Mexico. In 1928 she became
interested in stories and songs of the early days. By 1940 she was working
in the National Museum in Ottawa as a recognized folklorist. During her
career she would collect and in many cases record the folktales, songs and
stories of the Canadian Maritimes leaving a legacy of some 4000 records. She
would publish several books of the stories and songs that she had located.
In 1976 she became a member of the Order of Canada.
Esmée Florence d’Artois
World War ll spy
Born May 14, 1924, East Church, Kent, England. Died December 21, 2014,
Pointe-Claire, Quebec. As a youngster her parents divorced and she spent 6
months a year with her mother in the south of France where she was a feisty
tomboy. In 1943 she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in Canada and
became part of Special Operations Executive (SOE). Women were sought to be
spies as they were less likely to be suspect. In April 1944 she married a
Canadian military officer, Gary d’Artois (d 1949) from the SOE. On May 28,
1944 she landed in France to work as a courier for undercover agents working
in LeMans. She would be withdrawn a few months later. Toni worked under the
name Suzanne Bonvie of a Parisian fashion company. Her code name was
‘Blanche’. On one occasion she bicycled several hundred kilometers through
dozens of German roadblocks attempting to obtain a radio of SOE
communications. After the fall of LeMans on August 8, 1944 to allies she and
her partner crisscrossed lines to scout German defenses. She was described
in reports as ‘utterly fearless’. By December 1944 she and her husband
sailed for Canada. He was posted several times across the country and
internationally with this Royal 22nd Regiment (The Van Doos). The
couple eventually settled in Montreal and Toni worked in retail fashions and
volunteered at the local veteran’s hospital. Toni was inducted into the
order of the British Empire for her war efforts. In 2000 she worked on a BBC
documentary on women in the SOE during the war and as a surprise was
reunited with her comrades with whom she had served.
David Stafford, Secret Agent Was ‘Utterly Fearless’. Globe and Mail
January 10, 2015.
Suggestion submitted by June Coxon.
Edna May Diefenbaker
Wife of a Prime Minister
30, 1899* Wawanesa, Manitoba Died February 7, 1951. She was the daughter
of Chauncy and Mary Brower.She met her future husband while she was still in
school. June 29, 1929 she married John George
Diefenbaker (1895-1979) the future 13th Prime Minister of Canada.
The couple married in Toronto. When she married she gave up her teaching
career to devote herself to politics and support her husbands career. She
was a hard working campaigner for her husband, arriving at venues prior to
him to assure everything was set up. She was known to have worked on his
speeches and to have acted as his chauffeur. Once established in Ottawa when
John became an elected Member of Parliament she worked with the
Parliamentary press gallery to assure information was correct before it was
published. She was a frequent visitor to the Parliamentary public gallery.
She was considered instrumental in laying the foundation much of her
husbands early political success.
Sources: Memorable Manitobans Profile by Gordon Goldsborough. Online
(Accessed December 2011)
reading: The Other Mrs. Diefenbaker by Simma Holt, 1982,
Doubleday Canada. ; More Than a Rose by Heather Robertson. (1991)
Some sources report her birth date as 1901.
Olive Evangeline Diefenbaker
Wife of a Prime Minister
Born April 14,1902 Roland, Manitoba. Died December 22, 1976 Ottawa, Ontario.
As a youth she met a young John Diefenbaker. Her family moved a lot and
although he wrote to her the letter was delayed. She earned her BA from
Brandon College in 1923 and became a high school teacher. She married a
lawyer, Harry Palmer in 1933 and the couple had one daughter, Carolyn born
in 1934. When she became a widow she returned to teaching. When in Toronto
she was spotted by widower John Diefenbaker and the two were married two
weeks later on December 8,1953. John George Diefenbaker (1895-1979),a
Saskatchewan politician who became Prime Minister of Canada. Olive was an
ardent and active supporter of her husband’s political career. She often
entertained the press and even cooked a turkey dinner for them at one time.
In 1979 her remains were taken to Saskatoon to be reburied with her
husband. Olive Diefenbaker Drive in Price Albert, Saskatchewan was named in
Diefenbaker wives vital to husband’s career.”, Star-Phoenix, August
23, 1979 Copy provided by Archives, University of Saskatchewan.
Annette, Emilie, Yvonne, Cécile, and Marie Dionne
All share the same birthday in Corbeil, Ontario
May 28, 1934. They were the only known-surviving quintuplets in the world at
the time of their birth. Emilie died in August 1954. Marie died February
1970. While they were young they were wards of the provincial government of
Ontario. Most of their youth they were exploited. People came from all over
to see the tiny tots play in their back yard. They were even taken to
Hollywood where they would do commercials for products. In 1965 the
remaining four sisters published their story in the book We were five. Three
of the sisters would marry but their marriages did not survive and they
returned to living with one another in Montreal.
Winnifred Blair Drummie
née Blair. Born Saint John, New Brunswick 1903. Died May 23,
1983. She was working as a stenographer when she was encouraged to enter a
contest in Saint John searching for a representative young woman for a
proposed pageant at the Winter Carnival in Montreal. The
contestants skated before the judges and partied on the evening of the
event itself. On February 10, 1923 the first Miss Canada Winnifred Blair was
announced. The new Miss Canada followed a round of social
engagements at hospitals, schools, plays, teas and she did drop pucks at
hockey games. On March 8, 1923 she attended the opening of the New Brunswick
Legislature and became the first woman allowed to sit on the 'floor' of a
Canadian Parliament. She also tried a screen test for the movies in New York
City, but she decided that it was not for her. With little financial support
for attending special events she soon searched out a job as stenographer at
the Power Commission at the City of Saint John. She continued to work until
she married a young lawyer, Harold Drummie in 1930. She became a
housewife and soon mother of 2 sons.
Lorrie Alfreda Dunnington-Grubb
Born England 1877 Died January 17,1945. She could perhaps be
called a child of the British Empire as she grew up in India, South Africa
and Australia. She studied garden design at Swanley Horticultural College in
England and applied her trade throughout the Empire. After her marriage she and her husband emigrated to Canada in 1911. The two would work as
individuals and at times as partners designing public gardens, town planning
and suburban design in the Toronto area. She had a talent for encouraging
other artists, such as sculptors, to include their works in public areas.
She lectured at the University of Toronto on town planning and housing and
she was a prolific writer on the subject of garden design. She is considered
a true and extremely successful pioneer of the professional field of
Last Miss Canada
British Columbia. On October 28 1991 she was crowned Miss Canada and since
the pageant was cancelled a few months later she is considered the last Miss
Canada. She participated in the Miss Universe pageant in Bangkok, Thailand,
no doubt as part of her obligation to being Miss Canada. She then turned her
efforts to her education earning a B.A. at the University of Alberta in 1994
and followed this with a Masters Degree in journalism. She enjoys her
profession. She made the news headlines again in 2007 when she shaved her
head to raise funds for Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta.
Famous People Players
Born 1948, Hamilton, Ontario. As a youth she herself was a
high schools drop out who has been labeled as a "slow learner" in 1974 she
founded the Famous People Players, a professional black light theatre
company that combines music with the size characters that pay tribute to the
music and artistry of Famous people. The actors are developmentally
challenged youth. The group was discovered by the famous entertainer Liberache who took them to Las Vegas to perform. They have been performing
around the world ever since. Diane's artistic and humanitarian works have
earned her numerous awards including several honorary degrees from
universities, the 1981 Woman of the Year from the B'Nai B'rith Women, the
Vanier Award and and appointment to the Order of Canada in 1982.Married and
a mother of two daughters she is also the first Canadian to receive the
Library of Congress Award. She has written to books, Throw your heart
over the fence and Dare to dream: the story of the Famous People
Socialite and philanthropist
Born 1879 (sometimes noted as 1880) Omemee, Ontario. Died July 9, 1970. As a
young woman she moved to Toronto where she became a nurse at a private
hospital, Rotherham House. It was here that she met a young patient John
Craig Eaton (1876-1922) the son of entrepreneur Timothy Eaton (1834-1907)
The couple married and they had 4 sons, one daughter and an adopted
daughter. In 1915 she became Lady Eaton when her husband was knighted. She
would serve 21 years as a director on the Board at Eaton’s department stores
where she took varied interest in the business and retiring from the
position in 1943. In 1944 she turned her mansion in King Township, Eaton
Hall, to the Royal Canadian Navy to use as a convalescent home for 75
servicemen. . She was a life member of the Woman’s Hospital Aid Association,
Dame of Grace for the St John Ambulance, and served as Joint Master of the
Toronto and North York Hunt. She worked with the CNIB and the Canadian
National Committee for Mental Hygiene and was an active member of the
Timothy Eaton Memorial Church. She also was Vice-president of the Canadian
Red Cross and president of the United welfare Chest. The Eaton family were
responsible for constructing several prominent building in Omemee and at one
time proposed that the town be renamed Eatonville but the town fathers
refused. There is however a Lady Eaton Elementary School in the town. The
family was also generous to Trent University in Peterborough and Lady Eaton
College was named in her honour.
Rod McQueen. The Eaton’s: the Rise and Fall of Canada’s Royal Family.
(Toronto: Stoddart, 1998)
Lady Lynn Bagnall
Born 1898, Sterling, Scotland. Died Victoria, British Columbia 1984. Her
family emigrated to Canada in 1913 and settled in Edmonton, Alberta. After
her schooling she worked as a secretary. By 1920 she had ventured to Chicago
and New York, expanding her career opportunities even trying modeling and
acting. When her mother died in 1923 she returned to Western Canada. Putting
her Chicago court experience to good use, she worked with a lawyer and
politician Newton Rowell. Her experiences included working for the
development of the United Church of Canada, the Protocol for the Pacific
settlement of International Disputes (Geneva Protocol), with the League of
Nations establishment of the Federal External Affairs Department, the great
distillery scandal of 1925 and the development of the Canadian Communication
Service, forerunner of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC). She also
worked with Rowell when he was working the famous Person’s Case. In 1930 she
married Major Alan “Mike” Turnbull who sadly died in 1933. In 1934 she
remarried John Bagnall (1888-1954) who called her Lynn. John was knighted
for services to his country in 1936. The couple lived and worked in
Singapore and then South Africa and by 1947 they were exploring businesses
in New Zealand, Australia. While living in Brazil she learned Spanish and
while in France she mastered French. After John’s death she returned to
Canada to be with her family.
Source: Lady Lynn Bagnall (Madge Edgar) by Margaret Edgar Benetz
Section15.ca accessed June 2009.
née Trenholme. Born Kingsley Township,
Lower Canada (Quebec) May 4, 1843. Died September 14, 1918.
Shortly after her
marriage in 1867 she was left a widow. She turned her loyalty for the
British Empire into her work as organizing secretary of the Imperial Order
of the Daughters of the Empire. It was largely due to her efforts that May
24, originally celebrated as EMPIRE DAY was established as a holiday in
Canada. It would have a change of name to Victoria Day. She wrote about this
holiday in a pamphlet entitled. Our Union Jack: the genesis of Empire
Gariepy. Born November 26, 1926 MacDowall, Saskatchewan. She grew up on a
homestead just north of Duck Lake, Saskatchewan. She learned reading and
writing at school but considered of equal value the education received at
home. She listened to her grandmothers stories of the peoples and their
travels, she became fluent in Cree and Michif-French and learned to respect
the family history. She ran a trap line as a teenager before leaving home at
17. When she was 21 she married Ernest Fleury. A dedicated keeper of
journals of daily life she mourned the loss of her early journals in a fire
in 1960. In 1967 while confined to a wheel chair recovering from broken
bones she used her time to learn about and record the family genealogy. As
time passed she expanded her research to the other Métis families of the
area. In 2010 she was continuing in her full time position as a resource
person and Elder at the Batoche National Historic Site. She has been
inducted into the Silver Order of Gabriel Dumont and is proud to have been a
touch Bearer in Duck Lake for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
Source: Herstory: The Canadian Women’s Calendar 2012
Born Virginia, U.S.A. 1774 Died February 20, 1864. The
daughter of a loyalist slave family they all immigrated to Nova Scotia in
the 1780's. To ear money she worked as a baggage carrier, using a
wheelbarrow to move luggage from the docks. Soon she expanded her business
and covered the entire town and added a "wake Up' service so that clients
would not miss their next ship. Eventually she appointed herself as a police
officer in the town of Annapolis Royal. She imposed and enforced curfews and
kept the wharves under control. She was the first woman to be a police
officer in Canada. Today her descendants work in the trucking and hauling
Cynthia Adelaide Foster
née Davis. Born April 14, 1844, Hamilton, Ontario. Died
September 19, 1919. Her first marriage to a man who became the Mayor of
Hamilton and a Member of Parliament ended when he deserted her. She moved
herself to Ottawa where , while running a boarding house, she met and
married George E. Foster, a temperance advocate and Conservative Member of
Parliament. She was also a devoted temperance worker as was president of the
Ontario Woman's Temperance Union from 1882-1888 and publisher of the WCTU Women's Journal
for the Ottawa area. A devoted and hard worker for the causes she
embraced she was 1st president of the Ottawa district board of
management of the Victoria Order of Nurses. During the second world war she
worked with the Women's Canadian Club of Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley Branch
of the Canadian Red Cross. When she had spare time she enjoyed membership in
the Humane Society, the Women's Historical Society, was president of the
Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire. There is no doubt that she
also put energies into the political career of her husband who was Knighted
in 1914 giving her the title of Lady Foster.
Verna Isabel Margaret Freeman
Carrathers. Born January 4 1923. Died March 2, 2002, Winnipeg Manitoba.
Verna attended Normal School (teacher’s college) in Gimili, Manitoba and
from 1944-1947 she attended United College (Now University of Winnipeg)
majoring in Music. A lifelong learner she would return to university to ear
her masters degree in Educational Psychology at the age of 65. She would
teach school, music and piano. On May 23, 1947 she married John Freeman and
they would have three children. She was an active leader in Marriage
Encounter dealing with health relationships between marriage partners. She
also was a clown and palliative care worker.
M. Wilson, I want To Be in That Number: Cool Saints I Have Known
(Self published, 2014) ; Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press March 30,
Born circa 1865, New York, U.S.A. Died April 1931. Rachel married William Goldbloom in 1882 and the young couple moved from New York to Fort Garry.
Nell, their daughter, was the first Jewish girl born in Winnipeg. In the
mid-1900s, they moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. Their home at 540
Burrard became the centre of Jewish community life, with almost every Jewish
organization of that time said to have started there. The Hadassah's second
Vancouver chapter was named in Rachel’s honour during her lifetime.
Sources: Pioneers, Pedlars, and
Prayer Shawls by Cyril E. Leonoff.; Vancouver Hall of Fame online
accessed January 2013.
Lucile Garner Grant
Born June 14,
1910 Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan. Died March 4, 2013, Oakville, Ontario. She
studied nursing at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Quebec ,
graduating in 1937 and moving to Vancouver, British Columbia. It was 1939
when she heard that Trans-Canada Airlines (later Air Canada)was hiring. She
applied and became the 1st woman hired to be a stewardess. The
requirements were strict: must be 21 to 26 years old, must be a registered
nurse; must not be married along with strict weight and height regulations.
Lucille was also asked to participate in the design of her new uniform. The
job required that she monitor weather, handle radio communications, and
establish a food plan for flights. In 1941 she established the stewardess
programme for Yukon Southern Air Transport (Later Canadian Pacific Airlines)
She married Norman Dennison a aeronautic engineer. The couple had two
children. Stationed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1951, with Norman working
for the United Nations, Lucile worked for the ministry of education teaching
at a commercial school. The family settled in Lachine, Quebec. After the
death of her husband she married a second time March 31, 1936 to Jack Grant
and raised a combined family of four children.
was Canada’s firs airline stewardess” by Nora Ryell The Globe and Mail,
March 29, 2013.
Suggestion submitted by June Coxon, Ottawa, Ontario.
Ibola Szalai Grossman
Born Hungary, December 10, 1916. Ibi is a self described
ordinary woman. She is also a survivor. She survived attempts on her life.
She survived the physical and mental horrors of the Hungarian Holocaust, she
survived to escape to the “west”, she survived the obstacles of being a
European immigrant Jew and she survived the chant to a new and foreign
culture and way of life in Immigration to Canada. She did all of this after
her husband, her mother, her father and her sisters died in the death camps.
She survived to raise her son alone in Canada. She survived to tell her
story in the hopes that the horrors will not happen again. Read her story in
“Great Dames” [Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1997.]
Violet Irene Guymer
Born July 18, 1885. Died 1955. At the age of 33 with a
family of 5 children to support she took over the undertaking business
that had been started by her late husband in a small community in Manitoba.
In August 1919 she received her Diploma in studies as a Funeral Director and
Embalmer. January 16, 1922 she received her Manitoba Embalmers License and
became the first Canadian woman Funeral
Sources: Family member Myrna Guymer.
Born circa 1668, Ile Orleans. Orphaned as a youngster she never the
less acquired a good marriage at 16 to Charles Thibault. Unfortunately the
young mother was widowed at 17. She was soon married again in 1686 to
Mathieu Damours de Freneuse. The couple moved to his seigneury in Acadia and
had a family of five children during their ten year marriage. Unfortunately
he died of wounds received defending his family and home from an American
attack. Louise moved her family to Port Royal. Here she became involved in a
scandalous affaire and had a child with a certain married M. Bonaventure.
The affair ended when the legal wife came to Port Royal and Louise found she
and her family in Quebec. She was back in Port Royal , Visiting in few
years, when the area was under British rule. Suspicions of her being a spy
were never officially reported. Was she a spy? It is here that she becomes a
footnote to history perhaps moving to France where some of her children were
recorded as living in New Rochelle.
Suggested sources: Dictionary of Canadian Biography (Toronto: University of
Toronto Press) Vol. 1 p. 245 and Vol. 11 p 167.
Born July 6, 1920, Toronto, Ontario. She graduated with her B.A. from the
University of Toronto and attended the Ontario College of Education in 1944.
She taught for a couple of years before becoming a reporter and Women’s
Editor at the Toronto Star newspaper from 1946-1950. On October 7
1950 she married her 1st husband David Wall Bunting (D. 1988) and
the couple had 2 children.
As a member of Canada’s first newspaper Guild at The Toronto Star, Ruth was
among the first women to speak out in the interests of achieving significant
gains in terms of employee salaries, rights, and working conditions in the
newsrooms of the day. In 1951 she established Ruth Hammond Public Relations
and had a successful career in this field. Among her first clients was Kate
Aitken, then one of Canada’s foremost journalists. Ruth took over the public
relations program for the Women’s Division of the Canadian National
Exhibition. In 1956, Ruth Hammond joined the Canadian Public Relations
Society, one of the first women public relations consultants to participate
in Society activities. She , established, with colleagues, public relations
courses at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now Ryerson University), York
University, and the University of Toronto. In 1968 she became the 1st
woman accredited by the Canadian Public Relations Society. From 1966/67 she
served as the President of the Canadian Women’s Press Club in Toronto. She
served as a director of the Canadian Public Relations Society in Toronto
from 1969-1974 and was the force behind the professional accreditation for
the Society. In 1985 she received a Certificate of Achievement, Public
Relations and Education, Government of Ontario, and was the YWCA Woman of
Distinction for the Year. This was followed in 1986 by the Award of
Excellence in Communications from Ontario Community Colleges. In 1989 she
became a Life Member of the Canadian Public Relations Society and was
inducted into the Society College of Fellows in 2001.
Born Port of Spain, Trinidad. Died 1988. The family moved to Salmon Arm,
British Columbia when Agnes and her sister Mona were toddlers. Growing up on
a farm the girls learned to love the outdoors. The girls were first offered
women’s work of cooking and cleaning at camps and so the girls began their
careers in Jasper Park, Alberta. They soon learned about the terrain, the
flora, fauna and the animals. In 1928 they stood firm with demands to work
out of the camps as guides. Figuring some women might prefer to travel with
women guides, Fred Brewster hired the two as the first women Guides in a
Canadian National Park. Since men trail help would not work with either of
the women they were forced to tend the animals and cook meals on the trail.
In 1929 Agnes married Mark Truxler. The couple raised two children. The pair
retired in 1970. The sisters’ stories were told by Cyndi Smith in her book
Off the beaten track: women adventurers and mountaineers in Western
Canada. Coyote Lake Louise, 1993.
Source: Harrigan Sisters by Frances Rooney Section15.ca accessed
Born Port of Spain, Trinidad Died 1983. In 1908 the family emigrated to a
farm in Salmon Arm, British Columbia where Mona and her sister Agnes grew up
with a love of the outdoors. Unable to secure jobs as guides in Jasper Park
they originally accepted “women’s work” of camps and did cooking and
cleaning. In 1928 Mona and Agnes stood firm and because of their acquired
knowledge of the area and the fact that Fred Brewster though women clients
might prefer a woman guide, the girls became the first women guides in
Canada National Parks working in Jasper Park, Alberta. Their trips soon
became in demand but they were still forced to tend animals and cook as no
men world work the trips with them! The girls worked successfully on
separate trails. On New Years Eve 1930 Mona married Charlie Matheson, a Park
Warden. The couple opened and operated an outfitters and riding stable in
Jasper in 1937. By 1940 they operated their own guest ranch until they
retired in 1952.
The sisters’ stories were told by
Cyndi Smith in her book Off the beaten track: women adventurers and
mountaineers in Western Canada. Coyote Lake Louise, 1993.
Sisters by Frances Rooney Section15.ca accessed June 2009.
Bad girl of the American West
Born November 13, 1871(Sometimes
reported as 1876),
Lindsay Ontario. Died (Reportedly) December 28, 1955,(?) Globe, Arizona,
U.S.A. Pearl’s family was financially well off enough to send their daughter
to boarding school. While at school the teenager fell in love with a certain
various names such as Brett, Frank or William)
and the couple eloped. Pearl soon learned that she had married an abusive
individual and returned to be with her mother who was now living in Ohio, in
the United States. The couple would reunite several times and Pearl would
have two children who were reportedly raised by their grandmother. Pearl
supposedly became enamored with the western American life when she saw
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in 1893. She headed west working a numerous
jobs such as she could earn some monies on which to live. Pearl would meet
Hart yet again in Arizona where, once her money ran out he took off to join
the Spanish American War. Pearl returned to working odd jobs. Needing money
to return home to her ill mother she cut her hair, donned men’s clothing
took a partner and robbed an Arizona stagecoach. It would be one of the last
few recorded stage robberies. Arrested she was acquitted but the Judge saw
to it that she was charged with a second crime of tampering with US mail. By
this time she was a popular subject for pulp fiction dime novels. She served
two years of her five year prison term, receiving a governor’s pardon in
1902. From this point her life is sketchy with a mixture of truth and myth.
She reportedly ended up running a Cigar Store in Kansas City. It was also
reported that she portrayed her story on stage and even worked in the
Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. In 1904 she was arrested again for receiving
stolen property and again acquitted of any crime. There is a report that she
married George Calvin Bywater and the couple lived in Arizona until they
died. The couple’s tombstone reports her death as December 28, 1955. An
early movie, a musical, songs and a book of historical fiction have all been
based on her life.
Anna Maria Head
Yorke. Born 1808, England. Died August 25, 1890,t Oak Lea, Shere, Guildford,
England. On November 27, 1838 she married Sir Edmond Walker Head
(1805-1868) who would serve as Lieutenant-Governor of
(1847–1854) and serve simultaneously as
Province of Canada,
(1854–1861). The couple had 3 children. a son accidentally drowned in
in September, 1859. One of their two daughters was born at
New Brunswick on 6 February 1849. Anna Maria was an artist, who sketched a
picture of a view from
Ontario which she subsequently presented to
(1819-1901). A month or 2 later Her Majesty chose Ottawa as the seat of
Government of United Canada. Lady Anna Maria Head was known for volunteering
and distributing alms among the poor. A memorial of her Ladyship's visit to
the Upper Ottawa, in a bark canoe, in 1856, stands at
Quebec. In the county of Renfrew, a township
was named in her honour and the Renfrew county of Head was named in honour
of her husband. Source: Henry James Morgan, Types of Canadian women and of
women who have been connected with Canada. Vol. 1 (Toronto: William Briggs,
1903) Online (Accessed January 2016)
Eva Marlene Heddle
"Canada's Loveliest Child"
Born 1933, Caledonia, Ontario. Died Hamilton, Ontario September 25, 2009. At
three years of age she would become Canada’s sweetheart. On July 4, 1936 her
grandmother sent an 8 X 10 photograph of her daughter into a contest.
Marlene was chosen out of almost 1200 entries to become an instant star as
“Canada’s Loveliest Child” in the contest held by the Toronto Star Weekly.
She won $250.00 and an official portrait by Joshua Smith and a trip to see
the famous Dionne Quintuplets. But her winning the contest provided more
when Marlene’s face appeared on billboards and corn syrup containers. She
had invitations to fashion shows, store openings and other special events.
The Town of Caledonia even named a Street Heddle Street, in her honour.
Attention dropped during World War ll. In 1954 her wedding to photographer
Patrick Sullivan was covered by the Toronto Star. The couple would
have one daughter. Her stardom was brief and because she was so young she
actually did not remember much of the fanfare. A shy person she never really
wanted to cash in on any of the fame but she never forgot and had
photographs of 1936 hung in her home. In 2005 Marlene returned to Caledonia
to attend a special welcome and a special day commemorating the event that
had put the town on the national map.
Source: Contest catapulted child to stardom by Raveena Aulakh
Toronto Star October 15, 2009.
Martha Lou 'Louie' Henley
For more than three decades Louie Henley has been an avid supporter of the
Vancouver Opera giving both financial and volunteer hours in support of this
organization. She has support in addition some 70 additional organizations
and the Mary Lou Henley Foundation helps women meet their full potential.
She has received the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the
Performing Arts. In 2011 she was inducted into the Order of Canada and in
2012 the Simon Fraser University President’s Distinguished Community
Leadership award was given to Martha Lou Henley.
Julia Wilmotte Henshaw.
née Henderson. Born 1869 Durham England. Died November 18, 1937, Vancouver,
British Columbia. On June 15, 1887 she married Charles Grant Henshaw
(1869-1927) of Montreal and the couple had one child and settled in British
Columbia in 1890.
used the nom de plume of Julian Durham and in 1889 wrote her 1st
novel, Hypnotized, which was called the Canadian Book of the Year.
Her second novel appeared in 1901. Julia mapped Vancouver Island's interior
during 1910–1911. The
Society made her a Fellow in 1911. She also wrote for two
newspapers in Vancouver.
She was an outdoors woman and explored and even mapped Vancouver Island. She
loved the mountain wild flowers and in the early 1900’s she produced
botanical books about the Mountain Wild Flowers of North America.
1914, she and her husband were the 1st people to drive a car across the
Rocky Mountains. Although she was 45 years old when World War l began she
was ready to serve. Even though she had no medical trainings in
1915 served in the Royal Army Medical Corps as an ambulance driver as part
of the British Red Cross Society where she earned the rank of Captain.
her bravery she was awarded the
Croix de Guerre
with a Gold Star for "evacuating and recuperating inhabitants under shell
fire and aerial bombarding. She was also awarded the British, Allied and
Canadian war medals and other honours. She served with the French Red Cross
until November 1918.
Source: Macmillan Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Toronto: 1978 Page 355.
Specialist in Inuit
art and Aboriginal arts and crafts.
Born May 3, 1916 Calgary, Alberta. Died September 2, 2016 Calgary, Alberta.
In 1934 Marmie began university studies at the University of Alberta and
graduated from the University of Toronto in 1938 with a BA. She had an
interest in indigenous peoples art and received the Inuit name Angauka Nu
Natsuit. Her interest would be lifelong. She completed graduate studies at
the University of Iowa in 1947. In 1970 she established Calgary Galleries
Ltd, and helped established the Arctic Institute of North America at the
University of Calgary. She was regarded as a world authority on Northern
Inuit and First Nations arts and crafts. She was a volunteer for the Calgary
Exhibition and Stampede for many years and the 1st woman to
receive the Calgary Stampede Western Legacy Award. She worked on the Board
of Calgary Rotary International, the Glenbow Museum and the Board of the
Canadian National Museum. In 1967 she was the recipient of the Canadian
Confederation Medal followed by the Queen Elizabeth Golden Jubilee Medal and
the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 1981 she became a member of
the Order of Canada which was upgraded to Officer of the Order of Canada in
1993. She also held the Alberta Order of Excellence and the Alberta
Centennial Medal. She also earned the Northern Territories Commissioner’s
Award and the Grant MacEwan Lifetime Achievement Award from City of Calgary.
In 1999 she was the YWCA Woman of Diction for Calgary.
Source: Obituary Globe and Mail September 9, 2016. Suggestion
submitted by June Coxon, Ottawa Ontario.
née Tiennet. Born Toronto 1922 Died January 5, 2005.
She had a successful career the the government of Canada in the National
Research Council of Canada. She was the 1st woman to hold a number of
senior management positions in the council including chairing the selection
committee for Canada's first astronauts. She retired in 1984 as Secretary
General to the National Research Council.
Pat Holden Collins
Born August 28, 1924, Wallasey, England. Died November 26, 2011 Toronto,
Ontario. She came to Canada with her mother and brother in 1939 to escape
the aerial bombardment of war time Britain. Though her mother returned to
England to work for MI 5, the children settled in Winnipeg where Pat shortly
enlisted. She fudged her age and to hide the fact she told recruiters she
was born on the now Nazi occupied Isle of Guernsey. She took training in
photography, a profession with few women. Eventually posted overseas she was
the lone woman in photographer galleries. As a professional photographer he
presence surprised men like Dwight Eisenhower. After the war, working for
Reuters she was one of only 6 photographers allowed inside Westminster Abby
for the wedding of then Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip in 1947. On
leave in Ottawa she met her future husband Flight Lieutenant Arthur Collins.
N novelty as a professional photographer she was the subject of a British
Pathé Films short documentary: Women Going Places. Back in Canada she was
the subject of an article in the Toronto Telegram that was seen by Arthur
Collins who sought her out. The couple married in 1948 and would have five
children. Her home was a welcome refuge for pregnant girls in need. Once her
family was grown she embarked on a successful Real estate career.
Sources: Groundbreaking wartime photographer was first woman to shoot
Eisenhower by Michael Posner. The Globe and Mail December 9, 2011; Chrystia Chudczak, Documentary photographer. Online (Accessed January 2012)
Suggestion submitted by June Coxon,
Elizabeth Bessie Prichard Hall
Born April 7, 1849, Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia. Died June 30, 1930, Nova
Scotia. At 17 she began to go to sea joining her seafaring father who was
the captain of large square rigged sailing vessels. With him she learned
celestial navigation. On March 4, 1870 the sailed from New Orleans, U.S.A.
on the Rothesay with a crew of 10. 4 days at sea off the coast of Florida,
U.S.A. the 1st mate fell ill with small pox followed shortly
after by the captain himself. Bessie had to take over sailing the ship and
after the crew met decided to sail to Liverpool, England arriving May 12,
1870. While some may have wished to celebrate Bessie’s accomplishment the
rush of making up for delays in New Orleans meant avoiding quarantine
regulations so no formal acknowledgement of the feat was made. Women were
not allowed to apply for Mates nor Captain’s papers so Bessie left
seafaring. At 21 she married James Hall. The couple had 4 children. Her home
in Granville Ferry serves as a Bed and breakfast known as the Seafaring
Source: Ryan Scrantan. The Seafaring Maiden of Granville, Annapolis Royal
Heritage. Online. Accessed January 2016.
Dora Ridout Hood
Born January 23, 1885, Toronto, Ontario. 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
Adventurer / Explorer
née Benton. Born Bewdley, Ontario 1870.
Died May 4, 1956. She began her working career as a teacher but soon found
herself studying to be an nurse in New York State, U.S.A. It was while
caring for a young journalist that she found romance Leonidas Hubbard Jr.,
assistant editor of the U.S. magazine Outing, married his nurse in 1901. In
July 1903 Leonidas and a colleague became lost in the backwoods of what was
then part of Quebec and he died of starvation. Mina took over the idea of
her husbands exploration and on June 27, 1905 she set out in her husband's
footsteps. She would write about her two months exploit in her book A
woman's way through unknown Labrador. During her trip she recorded maps
which were accepted by the American Geographical Society and the
Geographical Society of Great Britain. Her mapping work provided details of
Labrador and gave insight into the massive Caribou migrations. She
eventually remarried and settled in England to raise her three children.
Mary Irene Patricia Jolliffe
Theatrical Press Agent
11, 1923, Chengda, China. Died October 29, 2014, Toronto, Ontario. Mary was
the daughter of two Canadian foreign missionaries of the Methodist/United
Church of Canada. Her younger years were spent in China where she learned to
speak Chinese fluently and easily handle chopsticks. In 1945 she graduated
from the Canadian Missionary School in western China. She attended the
University of Toronto graduating with a B.A. in 1949. After graduation she
returned to China to teach with the United Church of Canada’s Overseas
Mission for 2 years. Mary then decided to teach high school in Welland,
Ontario. In 1954 she went to work at the newly established Stratford
Festival while it was still held in a tent. Here she honed her craft where
the opening event at Stratford made the cover of Life Magazine and had
detailed coverage from Time magazine. She stayed 7 years at Stratford
refining her Public relations skills. She would go on to be the 1st
notable theatrical press agent working at the Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, U.S.A., The Metropolitan Opera touring company, New York, U.S.A.
and returning to Toronto in 1959 working at the O’Keefe Centre (now Sony
Center) as Communications Director. She also worked at Expo 67, Canada’s
Centennial fair in Montreal, the National Ballet, the National Arts Center,
the Canada Council and the Arts Center. Dedicated to her career she never
married. She liked to smoke, drink what she wanted and had a functional
street vocabulary. In 1985 she was inducted into the Order of Canada. In
1993 she was one of the founders of PAL, a Toronto living facility for
members of the performing arts.
Source: Obituaries; Mary Jolliffe, Arts Press Agent. Globe and Mail,
December 6, 2014.
Suggestion submitted by June Coxon, Ottawa Ontario.
Wife of a Governor General
Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. Sharon graduated from the University of Toronto,
the University of Western Ontario in London and McGill University in
Montreal to become a physiotherapist. In 1965 she married her high school
sweetheart David Lloyd Johnston who would become the 28th
Governor General of Canada. The couple has 5 daughters. She worked at the
Crippled Children Center, Toronto (now called Holland Bloorview Kids
Rehabilitation Hospital). The family lived 20 years in Montreal moving in
1999 to Waterloo to accommodate David working at the University of Waterloo.
Sharon enjoyed reading historical fiction and she is taking courses at
Humber College to perhaps write her own novel. On September 5, 2010 Queen
Elizabeth ll conferred her with the Order of Canada. She was also appointed
as Dame of Justice of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John
of Jerusalem. She enjoys riding horses and even runs a shores training
center at the family’s Chatterbox Farm near Waterloo.
Governor General of Canada . Accessed January 2013.
September 22, 1954, Laval, Quebec. She was the first woman to earn her
diploma in correctional studies at College Ahuntsic in 1975. Police
recruitment officers had no jobs to offer the graduate providing any excuse
they could think of to turn down her enquiries of work. Eventually La Sureté
du Québec (Quebec provincial police) and the police of the City of Sainte
Foy expressed and interest. It was on June 19,
1975, the International Year of the Women, she began her internship
with La Surité du Quebec à Parthenais working for the 1st few
months making photocopies in their office, mainly because they had no
uniform for a woman. She took a position with the police of Shawinigan
becoming the 1st policewoman in
Pionnières Québecoise accessed June 2013.
Keene. Born 1893, Bath, England. Died May 10, 1887,Oakville, Ontario. Violet
was the daughter of acclaimed pioneer photographer Minna Keene. Violet
learned her love of photography and her knowledge of the art from her
mother. As a youth the family had moved from Montreal to Toronto where
Violet would begin her career in portrait photography. He married Harold
Edgar Perincheief but retained her maiden name for her professional work.
She photographed many important artists and statesmen, inducing the Governor
General, Alduous Huxley, the author, and the playwright George Bernard Shaw.
She also worked as manager of the Eaton’s College Street Portrait Studio.
Her works were exhibited throughout North America and Europe. Some of her
works are owned by the National Gallery of Canada, the and the Art Gallery
Source: Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Online Accessed August
Born February 23, 1916, Alma, New Brunswick. She would
learn and take to the ways of the sea from her father. She learned quickly
and could repair an engine, run the winch, handle the lines and set sails as
well as cook and sew canvas! She was a woman who became accomplished in a
man's profession with courage and tenacity. She received a telegram on April
19, 1939 from Navigation School...she passed. She was the 1st registered
woman sea captain in North America and second ( to a woman in Russia) in the
world! She would sail as a Sea Captain for five years before she married in
1944 and while she enjoyed sailing for pleasure she never worked for pay at
Olga Alexandrova Kulikovsky
née Romanof. Born June 14,
1882. Died November 24, 1960.Grand Duchess of Russia and sister to Czar
Nicholas. She was saved from being executed with the rest of the Russian
Royal family in 1917 because she had decided to become a nurse and was
working with the wounded. She and her husband narrowly escaped, first living
in exile in Denmark, England and finally in 1948 they immigrated to Canada.
Here she was a farmer's wife leading a very ordinary life compared to the
lavish upbringing she had a young girl. She enjoyed painting and actually
had a showing in of her art works in Toronto in the 1950's.
Wife of a Prime Minister
Lafontaine. Born March 26, 1849, Montreal, Quebec. Died May 10, 1930,
Ottawa, Ontario. A child of a modest family she taught piano lessons to help
family finances. She met a young lawyer in Montreal but he felt himself too
poor and too ill at the time to be a suitor. When Wilfrid Laurier learned of
her impending engagement he immediately went to Montreal and on May 13, 1868
Zoe and Wilfrid Laurier (1841-1919)were married. The young couple lived in
Arthabaska (Victoriaville), Quebec until his role in politics forced a move
to Ottawa where he served as Prime Minister. Sadly they did not have any
children. While the couple remained married, it is known that Sir Wilfrid
did have a relationship with another woman, Emilie Lavigne. It seems both
Zoe and Emilie’s husband were both aware of the situation with their
spouses. Zoe kept herself busy and served as one of the Vice-Presidents on
the formation of the National Council of Women of Canada. The NCWC was
founded on October 27, 1893, at a public meeting in Toronto, chaired by Lady
Aberdeen, wife of the Governor-General of Canada and attended by 1500 women.
would join Sir Wilfrid and move to Ottawa in 1896.
1897 Sir Wilfrid cut off his relationship and he and Zoe became close once
again. Working with Lady Aberdeen (1857-1939) on February 10, 1897 Sir
Wilfrid Laurier offered the motion inaugurating the Victorian Order of
Nurses, (VON), honouring the 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s
assent to the throne of the British Empire. Lady Laurier served as honourary
Vice-President of the V.O.N. While the Lauriers maintained their home in
Arthabaska for holiday visits, the Liberal Party of Canada provided a fine
yellow brick home in Ottawa for the couple. A lounge in the famous Chateau
Laurier Hotel, Ottawa is named in her honour. The Home in Arthabaska
(Victoriaville) became a museum. Laurier House in Ottawa was used by Prime
Minister William Lyn Mackenzie King as his residence and bequeathed to the
Public Archives upon his death. The house is now a Museum dedicated mainly
to W.L.M. King but with a room dedicated to Sir Wilfrid and Lady Laurier.
Jeanne Brault Laurin
Beauharnois, Quebec. Died September 11, 2012, Beauharnois, Quebec. Even at
the early age of 9 Jeanne was interested in all things about cars and
trucks. Her father was a mechanic and she spent many hours of you youth
helping him at the family garage. In 1943 she became the 1st
official woman mechanic in Canada. In 1945 Jeanne married Rolland Laurin (d.
2001) and the couple had three children. Her biography has been written
with the help of her oldest daughter Jocelyn: Ma Vie Pleine de Vie. (2012)
Elles du Nord online.
(Accessed August 2014)
submitted by Jeannine Ouellette, Elles du Nord.
Marie Louise Emilie Lavergne
Born March 26, 1849. Died May 19, 1930, Montreal, Quebec. She was well
travelled as a young woman, having been to Paris and London. In 1876 she
arrived in Arthabaska, Quebec (Victoriaville) where her charm and self
confidence soon made her the celebrated hostess in the town. She enjoyed
reading English Literature and soon caught the eye of Wilfrid Laurier
(1841-1919), an up and coming politician at that time. Emilie married Joseph
Lavergne, the law partner of Wilfrid Laurier. The couple would have two
children in whom Sir Wilfrid would take a life long interest. Letters
written by Emilie to Sir Wilfrid Laurier were returned to her by Sir Wilfrid
in 1897 and she later gave them to a family member. The letters reappeared
in the 1960’s and are in the collections of the National Archives. The
letters are written in the style of the Victorian Era and are proper and
polite in content leaving history to question the state of the connection
between Sir Wilfrid and Emilie. Sir Wilfrid cut off their connection when he
returned her letters. Her husband’s career took the family from Ottawa to
Montreal at this same time. Emilie kept up social
appearances but it is said that she was never the same after they moved to
Judith A. Lawrence
Born Australia. Judith learned to make puppets when she was 12 years old
from instructions mailed to her from a popular radio show. She put on her
own shows from behind the family couch. After the television popularity of
the 1956 Melbourne, Australia Olympics she foresaw a place for TV puppet
shows. Judith moved to Canada at 22 and worked at 1st as a
kindergarten teacher. In the 1960’s she founded the Voice of Women
expressing her pacifist and feminist sides. She soon found herself working
at the CBC where she was asked to join the team of the popular children’s
programme with Ernie Coombs (1927-2001), Mr. Dressup which
began in 1967 and ran until 1996. She forged Casey and Finnegan and
performed the voices for the show’s 2 popular puppets as well as other
characters on the show. In the 1970 she served on the National Action
Committee for Women. She also wrote books for children the Young Canada
Reading Series and books on women and work for D.C. Health. She worked 23
years on the show retiring in 1989 and taking her puppets with her. In 1990
she and her partner Thea Jansen retired to Hornby Island, British Columbia
in 1990 where Judith became involved in community recycling and other
environmental projects. October 18 2001 she became a member of the Order of
Canada for her contributions to the performing arts. Her will provides that
her beloved puppet creations will find eternal rest at the CBC Archives.
Elizabeth Le Geyt
Born June 28, 1914, Bushey Heath (London),
England. Educated in Great Britain she married an engineer in the Royal
Navy, Jack Le Geyt. Pronounced Le Jet) the couple had 5 sons and when Jack
was loaned to the Canadian Navy his family followed in 1952 to Halifax and
later to the Ottawa area. After the marriage dissolved in the late 1950’s
Elizabeth worked cleaning houses and as a waitress to support her family.
She retired at 65 as administrator at a local chiropractor’s office. But for
most of this time she used her love of learning about birds of all kinds to
begin a second career. She often called to report her bird sightings to Wilf
Bell at the Ottawa Citizen newspaper. When he became bored with the
topic he asked his phone buddy if she would take over. In March 1973 her 1st
column appeared and for the nest 39 years she shared her enthusiasm of
birding with Citizen readers. She was an active supporter of the
Wild Bird Care Centre in Ottawa. The center created the Elizabeth Le Geyt
Environmental Award that it presents annually in appreciation. When she
could afford to travel she headed out on birding trips around the world
elating her readers with her adventures. Source: Charles Enman, Elizabeth
Le Geyt: A lifetime of Birding. Ottawa Citizen, October 31, 2009.
Flores (Florence) Le Due
née Grace. Maude Bensell. Born Montevideo,
Minnesota 1883. Died 1951. Imagine following your dream and running away to
join the circus! She took the professional name of Flores La Due and never
looked back! She had grown up on ranches in Minnesota and South Dakota and
she knew how to ride horses. She joined a wild west show as a trick rider
and roper. In 1909 she married a handsome cowboy, Guy Weadick, and the young
couple performed and toured together throughout North America and Europe.
She became World Champion Trick and Fancy Roper ( three times actually) at
the first Calgary Stampede in 1912, which was produced by her husband. The
couple eventually became semi retired ranchers , performing the circuit for
part of the year and running their ranch in the Alberta foothills. She
performed for some 31 years in total. In 2001 she was inducted into the
National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth , Texas, the only
Canadian resident to date to receive this honour.
Marie-Charles-Joseph LeMoyne de Longeuil
Baroness de Longeuil
(Baronne de Longueuil) Born March 21, 1756 Montréal, Québec. Died
February 17, 1756. Born a posthumous twin, her sister Marie-Catherine-Joseph
died when just a few months old leaving Marie-Charles the only surviving
daughter of the late 3rd Baron of Longueuil. May 7, 1781 she
married David Alexander Grant (d. 1806) The couple had three sons, one of
whom Charles William became the 5th Baron de Longueuil.
Marie-Charles owned and managed land in Lower Canada as well as ½ of Wolfe
Island in Lake Ontario, Upper Canada. It was she that had planner Joseph
Weilbrenner draw up plans for the town of Longueuil. She was extremely
generous when it came providing the Catholic Church with lands. She
established and was president of the Orphelinal Catholique de Montréal. She
would be the last of the legal French descendants of the LeMoyne de
Isabella 'Belle' Clarke Lougheed.
Born 1859. Died 1936. Isabella was born into a Metis family, one of the
richest in the Canadian North west. After primary education she attended the
Wesleyan Female College, Hamilton, Ontario. On September 16 1884 she married
a young and upcoming lawyer, James Lougheed (1854-1923), who would go on to
serve as a Canadian Cabinet Minister and senator. The couple would have 4
sons and two daughters. In 1891 the Lougheeds moved into a large house on
the outskirts of Calgary which would become a cultural centerpiece of the
area where Belle was grand hostess to such notables as the Governor General
and the Prince of Wales. Belle as an active participant in the growing
community. In 1890 she was treasurer of the Women’s Hospital Aid Society and
in 1896 she was Vice-President of the Alberta District National Council of
Women. In 1916 James was knighted in recognition of war effort work on the
home front. Lady Bell was the 1st President of the Victorian Order of
Nurses, active with the Children’s Aid Society and the Imperial Order of the
Daughters of the Empire. In 1922 she helped to found and served as 1st
president of the Southern Alberta Pioneers and Old Timer’s Association.
Lougheed House, the family mansion is both a provincial and in 1992 became a
National Historic Site with restoration to the days when Lady Bell was
denizen of Calgary.
Wife of a Prime Minister
née Clark. Born 1811.
Died December 28,1857. Isabella was the 1st cousin of Sir John A.
Macdonald. They met in Scotland in 1842 during one of Sir John’s trips to
the United Kingdom. Later in 1842 Isabella visited her sister in Kingston,
Upper Canada and met once again Sir John. On September 1, 1843 the couple
were married. After two years of marriage Isabella became ill. Although she
removed from this bout of ill health she became ill once again in 1844 and
this time she became an invalid and never really fully recovered her health.
The couple travelled in the United States in 1845 in the hopes of Isabella
regaining her strength. She would remain in the U.S.A. for the next few
years while Sir John travelled between her and his political offices in
Ottawa. In August 1847 a son, John Alexander Macdonald Junior was born.
Unfortunately tragedy struck when the 13 month old died suddenly. A second
son Hugh John Macdonald was born in March of 1850 (1850-1929). When Hugh was
just seven years old he mother succumbed to her illness and died.
The Canadian encyclopedia online accessed July 2013 ; The
Invisible Lady by James McSherry (1989) accessed July 2013) ; Women of
Ottawa: mentors and milestones Online accessed July 2013
Susan Agnes Macdonald
Wife of a Prime Minister
née Bernard. Baroness Macdonald of
Earnscliffe. Born Jamaica August 24,1836. Died September 5, 1920. Brought up
in Jamaica and England she came to Canada to live with her
brother. It was through her brother, Hewitt, that she met the Canadian
politician, Sir John A. Macdonald. They married February 16, 1867.
She was the 2nd wife for Sir John but as the wife of our 1st Prime
Minister she Canada's 1st "First Lady". She was intelligent and curious about life but she
had little patience for the social graces and duties of the wife of a
Canadian Prime Minister. In 1886, following the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway the Macdonald's set of on a transcontinental rail trip.
Consumed by the beauty of the Canadian Rockies, the 50 year old woman raised
concerns from the crew when she enjoyed part of the trip wrapped in blankets
and perched atop a candle box on the locomotive's cow catcher! The diaries
she wrote, now preserved in Canada's National Archives, provide a
fascinating view of the early years of Canadian Confederation. She and Sir
John had one daughter Margaret Mary Theodora
Macdonald, who was born severely handicapped, both mentally and physically
(1869–1933).After her husband's death in 1891 she was raised to the peerage
in his honour as Baroness Macdonald of Earnscliffe, in the Province of
Ontario and Dominion of Canada. She eventually returned to England where she
died and is buried.
Gladys Cameron MacGregor Watt
Born Galveston, Texas, U.S.A.. Died Ottawa, Ontario October 15,
1979. Her mother died in childbirth and Gladys was sent to Brooklyn to live
with an aunt and Uncle. She graduated from Brooklyn’s Adelphi College with
her B.A.. Shortly after she married a Canadian forestry engineer Roy
MacGregor Watt January 10, 1917. The young couple moved to Dauphin, Manitoba
where she was paramount in establishing a local library and a little
theatre. During the great depression she operated a billboard company to
make ends meet for the family. In 1937 the young family, now including two
sons, moved to Ottawa, Ontario. It did not take Gladys long to become
involved with her beloved theatre work. In 1958 she was Governor of the
Canadian Drama Festival and was presented with the Canadian Drama Award for
her efforts. In 1963 Lady Bird Johnson, first lady of the United States
presented Gladys with the Margo Jones Award for her impact on encouraging
live theatre. Gladys was instrumental in preserving Ottawa’s old Union
Station building in the heart of downtown Ottawa and campaigned vigorously
against the demolition of the Wet block of the Canadian Parliament
buildings. In 1964 the City of Ottawa honoured her for her dedication. In
1967 she was recipient of the Canadian Centennial Medal. When she retired
from the Ottawa Little Theatre, where she had advanced the One Act Play
contest to a national level, she was presented with an engraved silver tray
and a seat in the Theatre with her name on it.
Gladys Cameron Watt by Valerie Knowles.
Wife of a Prime Minister
Syms. Born Perthshire, Scotland March 22, 1825. Died March 30, 1893.
Married on June 17, 1853, she would become the second
wife of Alexander Mackenzie, second Prime Minister of Canada1873-1978.. The Toronto
Globe newspaper described her as "the best-known woman of Canada...and one
of the most admired and respected." It was a role she did not really enjoy
but she supported her husband and entertained all of Ottawa's politicians
Sheila Ann Martin
Wife of a Prime
née Cowan. Born 1943
Windsor, Ontario Was neighbor to Paul Martin and his family A Canada
Steamship Lines ship, Sheila Ann, is named in her honour. Before her
husband, Paul Martin, became the Prime Minister of Canada, Sheila Martin's
work in Ottawa included serving on a committee called Politics and the Pen,
and on this committee she helped give prizes and money to Canadian writers.
Patricia 'Pat' Mary McDonagh
Born March 17, 1934 Manchester, England. Died May 31, 2014 Toronto, Ontario.
Her mother was a seamstress and created for Pat the latest in fashion that
the youth showed her mother from a magazine. She attended Manchester
University where she was approached, much to the horror of her parents, to
become a model. In August 1960 she married David Main and the couple had 3
children. She opened a dress shop in Horwick, England which proved to be
popular and led to a second shop opening. In 1966 with her husband having a
job offer from the CBC the family immigrated to Toronto, Ontario. Pat found
the city void of fashion sence and opened a shop in Toronto providing up to
date fashion for the city. She soon recognized the need for Canadian modern
designing and in 1968 opened her 1st factory. Her designs have
been worn by such notables as Cher, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Rigg, and our own
Canadian Governor General Michaelle Jean. She won the New York Times Award
for Design Excellence in 1992 followed in 2000 with the Best Shoe
acknowledgement from the Bata Shoe Museum. In 2003 she was presented with a
lifetime Achievement Award from the Fashion Design Council of Canada.
Source: Susan Ferrier MacKay, She brought Carnaby Street to Toronto, The
Globe and Mail, July 5, 2014.
Suggestion submitted by June Coxon, Ottawa, Ontario.
Theresa Helen McNeil
First woman High Sherriff
Membourquette. Born 1928 Lower Ardoise, Nova Scotia. Died March 11, 2009.
Theresa married Burt and was the busy stay at home mom to the couple ‘s 17
children. When Burt died suddenly in 1973 there were still 7 children under
the age of 10 at home. Theresa was hired by Annapolis County, Nova Scotia,
as High Sherriff. She was the first woman in Canada to hold such a position.
She inspired all of the people around her including her children who would
in time become teachers, public Servants, police officers, small business
owners even a Nova Scotia Member of Parliament. She was also a tireless
volunteer who worked in and for her community until she became ill to
deliver Meals on wheels. In 1992 she received the Canada 125 Medal and the
Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2002. In 2005 she was named to the Order of Nova
Source: Protocol Office, Order of Nova Scotia http://gov.ns.ca/prot/2005
recipients (Accessed August 12, 2008. )
Judith "Judy" Winifred Mappin
née Taylor. Born 1929, Toronto, Ontario. Died February 14, 2014. She grew
up in a wealthy family in Toronto. She attended McGill University where she
earned a B.Sc. in 1950. This may have been where she met her husband of 50
years, John N. Mappin. After all the two had an insatiable love of books. In
later life, John turned in the family jewelry business to deal with
historical publications while she preferred current Canadian Literature. The
couple had five children. In the mid 1970’s she became a 3rd
partner in the Double Hook Book Store in Montreal. When her partners left
the business she took it on by herself. She sold currently published
Canadian books in the heart of Montreal where English language works were
often difficult to find. She welcomed and supported Canadian authors. In
1999 she served on the jury for the Giller Prize for Canadian Fiction. In
2000 and again in 2002 she founded scholarship programmers at McGill
University. In 2005 Judy decided to retire and close the Book Store. That
same year she was honoured with the President’s Award of Distinction from
the Association of Canadian Publishers for her 31 years of support of
Canadian literature. In 2006 she received an honourary doctorate from McGill
University and in 2008 she became a member of the Order of Canada.
Source: “Judy Mappin Championed
Canadian writers in her Double Hook Book Shop” by Katherine Wilton. The
Gazette, Montreal, February 19, 2014 ; personal information.
Born circa 1710 Baptized June
28, 1730. She was a black slave who had the misfortune to fall in love with
a white man, Claude Thibault. They fled from Canada to New England. To mask
their escape she set fire to her master's house. The fire burnt out of
control and 46 homes were destroyed along with the famous Hotel Dieu. She
was captured and sentenced to have her hand cut off and be burned alive. The
sentence was changed to handing before her body was burned. Her ashes were
scattered to the wind.
Born July 21,
1943 Kingston, Ontario. Judith attended Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova
Scotia earning her Bachelor of Commerce Degree in 1963. She studied at the
London School of Economics in England from 1965-1966. On May 8 1970 she
married Anthony Stirling and the couple have 2 children. She first worked as
a researcher with the Combines Investigation Branch of the Federal
Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs until 1965. She worked an
economist and writer for the Financial Times of Canada from 1966 through
1972 and then was Director of Policy Studies at the C.D. Howe Institute
until 1980. She worked with the Economic Council of Canada from 1985-1992
prior to becoming Associate Director of the School of Policy Studies at
Queen’s University, Kingston and Executive Director of Queen’s-University of
Ottawa Economic Projects in 1992-1994. She was a member of Ontario Premier’s
Council from 1998-1990. She has authored several books the economics and
social role of government. In 1996 she was inducted into the Order of
Canada. She was a founding president of the Canadian Policy Research
Networks until she retired in 2005. She is a member of the Board of
Governors of the Community Foundation of Ottawa and is part of a group of
volunteers working to establish a Citizens Academy of Ottawa.
Canadian Who’s Who, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997)
Jessie Isabel Meighen
Wife of a Prime Minister
Born April 18, 1883, Granby, Quebec. Died September 6, 1985, Toronto,
Ontario. Isabel left home to teach in Manitoba. It was while here that she
me a young man who had also been a teacher and then studied law. In June
1904 she married Arthur Meighen (1874-1960) who would become the 8th
Prime Minister of Canada. The couple had three children.
Une Granbyenne, première dame du Canada by René Beaudoin in Société
d”Histoire de la haute-Yamaska, Fév. 26, 2012. Online accessed July
Born circa 1740, Labrador. Died 1795, A
daughter of an Inuit Chief, Mikak lived with her husband and son in a small
British fishing station when the settlement was raided and her husband was
killed. The young widow learned to speak English from a British solder,
Francis Lucas. She and her son went to England with Lucas. Here she was
treated like the Inuit Princess that she was. She and her son had their
portrait painted by the famous artist John Russell. In London she met Jens
Haver, a Moravarian Missionary. She helped the missionary raise funds for a
mission and in the summer of 1768 she returned to Labrador with Francis
Lucas. When Jans Haven arrived in 1769 she helped establish the mission for
which she had helped to raise funds from the British. She remarried to an
Inuit hunter, Tugavina, and settled with her family in her homeland.
Eleanor Joan "Dusty" Miller
Faircloth. Born August 3, 1929. Died February 14, 2012. In 1949 she
married Thomas B. Miller ( - 1996) and the couple moved to England
returning to live in Thunder Bay, Ontario in 1954 where Dusty would become
Artistic Director of the Cambrian Players for nine years. She also taught
theatre and television arts in high schools and designed and co-directed the
Fine Arts Division at Lakehead University. She also taught in the
Confederation College Performing Arts Management Program. She became active
in politics and in 1974 was elected as a city councilor. In 1978-1980 she
was the first woman mayor of Thunder Bay,. She was elected again to city
council in 1985 and served through 1991. She was a member of the Board of
Directors of Lakehead University for 11 years and was a founding member of
Theater Ontario. Influential Women honoured her with the Northwestern
Ontario Business Award and was presented the Maggie Bassett Award from
Theatre Ontario for her outstanding contribution to theatre. She received
the Order of Ontario and was appointed a Fellow of Lakehead University.
Source: Obituary Globe and Mail March 10, 2012.
Suggestion submitted by June Coxon, Ottawa Ontario
Milica "Mila" Mulroney
Wife of a Prime Minister
Pivnicki. Born July 13,1953 Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina .Her father was a
doctor and could not advance without being a member of the party politics.
He took a research fellowship in Montreal in 1956 and worked the next two
years through red tape necessary to bring his family to Canada. Mila was 5
when she arrived in Canada and had her first glimpse of snow. She registered
at Concordia University to study engineering and fine art but became
diverted in her studies. In 1972 She met an up and coming lawyer from Bae
Como and they married May 26, 1973. Brian Mulroney (1939 - ) would become
the 18th Prime Minister of Canada 1984-1993. Mila dropped her
university studies becoming a housewife, mother of 4 children and staunch
supporter of her husband’s political career. Both were involved with the
Progressive Conservatives in Westmount. Mila played a large role in Brian’s
first campaign for the Progressive Conservative Party leadership. Many PC
campaign buttons featured both Mulroney’s face and hers. She was known for
having a good handle on fashion but she could also work a crowd with her
friendly manner making people feel at ease. Her charity works included being
a director of the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation . After politics and
with her children grown and married she rekindled her interest in the arts.
She enjoys making necklaces that she gives to family and friends. She also
enjoys painting and abstract works of art.
Sources: “Mila Mulroney : Designing Woman” by Julia Smith. Maclean’s
Magazine July 12, 2013. Online accessed July 2013. ; “Meet Mila
Mulroney’s greatest asset.” By Hubert Bauch. Montreal Gazette
September 3, 1983 Online accessed July 2013.
Born North Carolina, U.S.A. ca 1820 Died Ca 1882. Born a
slave she was sent by her master to learn the art of healing to help other
slaves and protect the investment of the master. By 1861 she had gained her
freedom and was settled in Woodstock in Canada West. By 1870 she was a well
established herbalist and fortune teller and her home was the place that
many unwed women visited when they became pregnant. She became involved in a
scandalous legal case where she was accused but acquitted of performing
abortions. In her day orphanages did not accept illegitimate children and
many women felt their choice was limited to visiting her home.
or MaGeila?) Is she real? Only the undiscovered foggy history of
Newfoundland knows for sure. As oral history tells it, she may have been an
O’Connor, the daughter of a claimant to the Irish Throne of Connaught. Oral
traditions abound in tales of Newfoundland’s early Irish Princess. She is
reputed to have come to Newfoundland in the early 1600’s and married one
Gilbert Pike. The couple became planters and small business people in nearby
Carbonnear Island in 1611. Were they indeed the first European couple to
settle Newfoundland’s shores??? Check out The Beaver, February /
March 2005 pages 44-45 at your Public Library.
Born near Naples, Italy 1883(?) Died after 1924.
In 1909, Angelina and her husband emigrated to Canada fro Ital via New York
City. The settled in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. On April 16, 1911 she hugged
her children good bye and went to jail. She had waited for the police. She
had killed her abusive husband. In 1910 she had been disfigured when stabbed
by her abusive husband. She saw no other way out for the safety of her
children. He had tried to force her to prostitute herself to earn
money to build a family house. She was convicted and sentenced to hang after
the birth of the child she was expecting. A protest erupted following the
conviction. Organizations from across North America and Britain. Feminist
groups screamed 'self Defence'. On July 14, 1911 her sentence was commuted
to life in prison. December 30, 1924 she was granted parole. She had kept in
touch with her children but it is not known what happened after 1924.
Her case was the beginning of recognition of a major problem of western
civilization. Was she guilty. Yes, but in the modern millennium law and
society would have provided at least alternative solution to her situation.
Born ca 1797,
U.S.A. ?. Died January 16, 1827 Thamesville, Upper Canada (Now Ontario). Her
Aboriginal name was Karighwahcagh. In 1813 when she was approximately 16
years old she married the 50 year old Chief John Norton. John was the son of
a Cherokee father and a Scottish mother who was probably born in Scotland.
As a youth he had joined the British Army making his way to North America
where he eventually became adopted by the Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant
(1743-1807). After their marriage Catherine accompanied John during his
service in the War of 1812. She would have been exposed to the rough living
in army camps. After the War John took Catherine to Scotland where she
attended school in Dunfermaine. While in Scotland Catherine became
acquainted with the Duchess of Northumberland who had a portrait of
Catherine commissioned. In 1816 the couple returned to Upper Canada and
eventually settled on a large farm at Sims Locks overlooking the Grand
River. In 1823, believing Catherine to have been unfaithful to him, John
Norton became embroiled in duel. He was charged with murder and convicted of
manslaughter and paid a fine of 25 pounds. John settled a portion of his
British army pension on Catherine and left for the U.S.A. There is evidence
that he intended to return to Canada but there is no proof that he did
indeed return. Catherine settled in Thamesville in Upper Canada.
Sources: Carl F. Klinck, “NORTON, JOHN,” in
Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6, University of
Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed March 14, 2015,
http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/norton_john_6E.html. : Women of Valour
, in Canadian History Aug-September 2013;
Born 1968 Nain, Labrador. She left home to study at Memorial University in
St. John’s Newfoundland earning a degree in political science. She joined
the Labrador Inuit Association land claims negotiating team in 2001 was
named co-chief negotiator. In 2001 she was also appointed chief negotiator
on Inco’s Voisey’s Bay development. Agreement was reached in 2002 and the
project proceeded as planned in 2004. In 2004 she became Inuit Affairs
Officer with INCO. In 2004 she was named one of Canada’s Top forty under
forty. She is married and the couple have one daughter.
Herstory: The Canadian Women’s Calendar 2006. Saskatoon: Coteau Books,
Maryon Elspeth Pearson
Wife of a Prime Minister
Born December 13,1901 Winnipeg, Manitoba. Died December 26,1968Toronto,
Ontario. While attending the University of Toronto in her 4th
year of studies she enrolled in tutorial classes given by Lester Bowles
Pearson (1897-1972) On August 22, 1925 the couple were married in Winnipeg.
He soon became involved in politics and would become the 14th
Prime Minister of Canada 1963-1968.They would have one son and one daughter.
She did not really care for wearing hats nor politics but she was a staunch
defender of her husband. She was known for speaking her mind and for off the
cuff “quips” with the pres. She was known to have said “Behind every great
man is a surprised woman.” Evidently the couple argued as a way of life but
still had a loving relationship.
Reportedly at her request that the practice of curtseying to the Governor
General and his consort was discontinued (apparently because Maryon refused
to act deferentially toward her old friend Norah Michener, the wife of
Rolland Mitchner, the Governor General). It is interesting that while she
does not have an entry of her own in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography,
a paragraph in the biography of her husband is dedicated to her.
“Lester Bowles Pearson”, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
(University of Toronto Press) Accessed July 2013.
née Burthen. Born Fishkill, New York, U.S.A. A slave by birth she was stolen
with her sister by the owner’s son in law when she was 7 years old. In
Genesee, New York, she was sold to Joseph Brant (1752-1807) a Mohawk leader
who sided with the British during the American Revolution.
Sophia helped Brant hunt deer by scaring the deer towards Brant and his sons
While Brant himself was not disposed to mistreating his slaves, evidently
his third wife was extremely brutal. he sold Sophia when she was twelve
years old to Samuel Hatt who lived in Ancaster. Eventually freed in 1813,
Sophia moved to Waterloo County where she married Robert Pooley. When 90
years old she and other former slaves were interviewed to collect their
stories and memories about their time as slaves. Source:
Slavery in Canada. Online
WWW.canadachannel.ca/slavery/index (accessed February 2015)
Passenger on the Underground Railroad
Born 1815 ? . Died February 5, 1860, Kingston, Canada West (Now Ontario).
Harriet was ¼ African heritage and was sold at auction in New Orleans when
she was 14 years old. She arrived in Syracuse, New York, on a trip with the
Davenports, a wealthy family from Mississippi, U.S.A. The group caused great
discussion when word got out that the beautiful young woman with the
Davenports was not a companion but rather a slave. While staying at the
Syracuse House Hotel with her owners, Harriet was approached by some of the
black staff of the hotel. Did she wish to escape from being a slave? They
could help her escape. She worked her way through several safe houses on the
famous Underground Railroad that helped escaped slaves find their way to
Canada and freedom. At one stop, the home of Gerrit and Ann Smith in
Peterboro, Madison County, New York, Harriet told her tearful story to a
young cousin visiting the Smith home. Elizabeth Cady Stanton would go on to
become a prominent feminist and she would remember the young slave woman’s
story. On October 29, 1839 Harriet left Cape Vincent, New York and landed on
Wolfe Island, Upper Canada and then made it safely to Kingston, Upper Canada
where she lived with Charles and Charlotte Hales There were rumors that the
Davenport family had hired men to kidnap and return the errant slave, so
life at first was tense. In April 1840 Harriet married Henry Kelly, a
respectable gentleman of colour who was a musician. The couple had 5
children who lived to be adults. A son Charles and his daughter Hattie were
professional musicians in Guelph, Ontario. A granddaughter, A granddaughter,
Katrina Coffin Kelly, was a missionary in Chile. Their son Edward was a
barber in Winnipeg who Canadian checkers champion.
Source: A brief account of Harriet
Powel’s Escape to Kingston by Joanne Stanbridge. A paper presented at
the Kingston Genealogical Society February 2009.
Suggestion submitted by June (Hales) Coxon, Ottawa, Ontario.
Doyenne of Toronto
Born April 26, 1755, Wells, Norfolk, England. Died March 10, 1849, Toronto,
Canada West (Now Ontario). As a young woman she had been forced to learn the
profession as milliner which she felt was beneath her station in life. On
October 3, 1775 she eloped without permission of family with William Dummer
Powell (died 1834) and the couple set off for England. The couple would have
9 children. By 1780 she and her children joined William in Montreal. The
family moved numerous times to various locations in the U.S.A. and England
finally settling in Toronto in 1799. Here William served as a judge
providing Anne with a suitable station in the community where she became a
well known social arbiter. In April 1813, during the War of 1812, the
Americans attacked Toronto Anne fearlessly determined to remain In her house
while other families fled the town. She did not however survive the scandal
with her promiscuous daughter Anne who was involved with the married John
Beverly Robinson. The mother, at one time, sought to have her daughter
committed to an asylum. Young Anne died in a shipwreck in 1829. The mother
was brought to disgrace and withdrew from society. In 1826 the couple moved
to England for a few years but by 1829 there returned to Upper Canada. In
1840 a ‘wicked’ granddaughter was embroiled in a messy divorce, the first
divorce in Upper Canada. Much of Anne’s life is known through the some 700
detailed letters to family and friends which have survived. A portion of
Anne Powell’s voluminous correspondence has been published under the title
“Letters of Mrs. Wm. Dummer Powell, 1807–1821,” ed. By Janet Carnochan, in
the Niagara Historical Society, no.14 (1906): 1–40.
Sources: Edith G. Firth, “MURRAY, ANNE,” in
Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7, University of
Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed March 14, 2015,
http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/murray_anne_7E.html. ; Women of valour
, in Canadian History Aug-September 2013;
World War l veteran
Born 1899, England. Died August 14, 2008, Abbottsford, British Columbia. She
served in the British Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp in World War 1. She also
served in the British Royal Air Force when she worked as a barracks
waitress. After the war she came to Canada as a War Bride of a Canadian
Soldier, Ed Luxford. She proudly became a Canadian Citizen. The couple
settled at first in Calgary, Alberta but Gladys found it rather cold so the
couple walked the rails in 1925, 1000 kilometers to settle on the west
coast. Hollowing her divorce from Ed, Gladys married three more times, only
to outlive all three husbands. Upon her death she was believed to have been
the last woman World War One veteran. She was 109 years old.
Source: Heroines.ca. Online (Accessed February 2009)
Minnie Sophia Prat
Born Wolfeville, Nova
Scotia 1868. Died Wolfeville, Nova Scotia September 4, 1901. Minnie and her
sisters, Annie and May were adventuresome spirits leading up to the turn of
the century. At one time Minnie was engaged to marry Goodridge Roberts,
brother of the poet Charles G. D. Roberts, but Goodridge dies of flu in
1892. In 1897 Minnie boldly moved to New York City to study the art of book
binding with Evelyn Nordhoff, the first independent woman bookbinder in
North America. Her sister May joined Minnie in New York t, learning about
leatherwork for binding. The women were all pioneers in this male
professional bastion. After Evelyn died, Minnie and May opened their own
Primrose Bindery in New York City in 1900. Minnie won a silver medal at the
1900 Paris Exhibition and a Bronze Medal for her work in Buffalo, New York
at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. Minnie died in 1901 of typhoid
contracted during a visit home to Wolfeville. May kept the Primrose Bindery
working with the help of big sister Anne but was forced to close it down in
1904 when she returned home to marry.
Source: Nova Scotia Archives. The Prat
http://gov.ns.ca (accessed June 2011) ; Herstory: the Canadian
Women’s Calendar 2007 Coteau Books, 2006 page 74.
Catherine Anne Prevost
Born 1766. Died August 1, 1821 Belmont Bedhampton, Hampshire, England. On
May 19, 1789 she married Sir George James Marc Prevost (1767-1816). Sir
George held several political posts where the British government desired to
have a military competency. The family was in Dominica when he served as
Governor General. He was appointed as Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia
January 15, 1808 and Catherine followed arriving in Halifax in August of
1808 where she took up duties as official hostess. On October 21 1811 Sir
Charles was appointed Governor General of British North America and the
family relocated to Quebec. Catherine presided over formal occasions and
often represented her husband socially during absences leading forces in the
War of 1812. Upon the death of her husband in 1816 she declined offer of
peerage in honour of her husband as she did not consider herself or her
family to have sufficient means to support the dignity.
Source: Women of Valour , in Canadian History Aug-September
Jane Elizabeth Proctor
Born December 25, 1949. Died July 25, 2014 Richmond Hill, Ontario. Jane
married Ronald Boss and the couple had one daughter. She was by profession a
physiotherapist and she ran her own clinic in Etobicoke, Ontario. She was
also physiotherapist for team Canada at such international events as the
Pan-American Games, the Commonwealth Games and both summer and winter
Olympics. At these games she served figure skaters and volleyball players
Source: Obituaries, The Globe and Mail, July 31, 2014.
Suggestion submitted by June Coxon, Ottawa, Ontario.
Machine Gun Molly
Born Feb 25, 1940, Montreal, Quebec. Died September 19, 1967. Monica was
born to a poor family that had of tussles with the law. At 13 she was a
working prostitute. In 1956 at just 17 she married Anthony Smith, a
Scottish gangster who was almost twice her age. The couple had two children.
In 1962 Anthon was deported from Canada. Two years after her marriage a fire
in their home killed 4 of her brothers and sisters. After the loss of her
husband Monica became involved with a bank robber Viteur Tessier and this
couple had one child. Eventually Viteur Tessier was caught and was sent to
jail for 15 years leaving Monica on her own again to raise her three
children. She began her solo robbing career. Monica and her accomplices held
up more than 20 banks in the Montreal area stealing over $100,000.00
dollars. The media dubbed her Machine Gun Molly/Monica La Mitraille. She
used numerous disguises ranging from feminine outfits to masculine outfits.
On September 19, 1967 Monica died after crashing into a bus and being shot
twice by an undercover police officer following a high-speed chase through
the north-end of the city. Reportedly, this was to have been her last bank
robbery, intended to fund a new life in Florida. During her lifetime in
robbery she became known by the nick name Machine Gun Molly. A 2004 Quebec
Monica la mitraille
(Machine Gun Molly in English) was loosely based on her life. The
film was adapted from the book Souvenirs de Monica by
Rose Marie Rauter
Marie was the
1st woman to graduate in forestry from the University of Toronto.
She went on to earn her Masters in forestry genetics. She began her career
with the Ministry of Natural Resources in Ontario. In the 1970’s she served
a Supervisor of the Tree and Seed and Forest Genetics Unit. In 1984,
Marie convinced the forest industries of the
Province of Ontario that they should actively participate in the tree
improvement program, which resulted in 1985, in the formation of the Ontario
Tree Improvement Council. chaired a working
group in the International Union of Forest Research
Organizations (IUFRO). She has presented papers throughout North
America and abroad and has been an invitational participant in events such
as the world forest policy forum in Indonesia. In 1992, she became the
President and CEO of the Ontario Forest Industries
Association, a position she held until 2000. Marie lead the
development of Ontario Industry Codes of Forest
Practice and been involved in many regional, provincial, national and
international discussions on behalf of Ontario forest industries. She is an
active member of several committees and associations including the board of
the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association, the
National Roundtable of the Economy and Environment, the Environment Forestry
Task Force to the Biodiversity Advisory Committee for
Environment Canada and External Affairs, and she was prominent in
developing Canada's position at the Rio Conference.
She served on numerous boards including the Advisory Committee of the
Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia and the Ontario
Board of the Canadian Nature Conservancy.
Bannerman, Leading Ladies of Canada (Belleville, Mika Publishing,
Miriam Alleyne Priscilla Renouf
8, 1953, St. John’s, Newfoundland. Died April 2014, St. John’s Newfoundland.
Priscilla loved to sew as a youngster and as a teen she won a Miss Singer
Sewing Contest. She attended Memorial University of Newfoundland earning
both her B.A. and her M.A. She earned her PhD at Cambridge University,
England. In 1981 she joined the faculty of Memorial University. She held the
Canada Research Chair of North Atlantic Archeology. In 1992 she earned the
President’s Award for Outstanding Research. She was a member of the 1st
Board of Trustees of the Canadian Museum of civilization and a member of the
Board of Directors for Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland and
Labrador. She was also on the governing body of Social Sciences and
Humanities Research council of Canada. She was co-founder of an
international research group called LINK, whose goal is to answer questions
relating to past societies and how they coped with climate changes. She
would also author several books in her field. In 1999 she married Roger
Source: “Obituaries: Priscilla Renouf…a humanistic approach to archeology.”
By Joan Sullivan, the Globe and Mail, April 16, 2014. Suggestion
submitted by June Coxon.
Alma V. Ricard
Born 1906, Montreal, Quebec. Died June 2, 2003, Sudbury, Ontario. Alma moved
to Sudbury in 1931. In 1940 she married Baxter Ricard. Baxter was a
successful pioneer in communications with radio and television. Upon his
death in 1993 Alma began investigating investing how best to help French
Canadians living where their language made them a minority group. In 1998
she established the Baxter and Alma Ricard Foundation to help students
living in linguistic minorities. She also made major financial contributions
to various hospitals and educational institutions. She received honourary
doctorates from Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario and the University
of Ottawa. In 2000 she was appointed to the Order of Canada. She was also
the recipient of the Ordre de la Pléiade.
Source: Les Elles du nord Online (Accessed June 2015)
Kathleen "Kate" Rice
20, 1883, St. Mary’s Ontario. Died 1963 Minnedosa, Manitoba. Kate came from
a well to do family and was well educated having earned a degree in
mathematics at the University of Toronto in 1906. For a while she taught in
St. Catharines, Ontario and at Albert College, Bellville, Ontario before
heading to the Canadian west and teaching in 1908 in Tees, Alberta. By 1912
she had landed in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. She spent 2 years in The Pas where
she spent her summers as a prospector. She enjoyed prospecting and taught to
earn enough money to earn provisions for mining. In 1911 she set out for
Flin Flon. By 1914 she decided to take on a business partner, Dick Woosey.
She latterly split her cabin in half with a rope with each to their own
side, it was a business partnership! Kate wrote scientific papers on the
northern lights and dabbled in journalism writing for the Toronto Star.
She even designed a hydro electric project with which she hoped to power one
of her own mines. She knew well the Aboriginal population in the areas of
northern Manitoba, learning how to trap and live off the land as well as
learning to speak their language. They simply called her Mooniasquao,
meaning white woman. She is considered the
first woman prospector and is responsible for the beginning of the gold
mining community in Manitoba. After Dick’s death in 1940 she
remained in the backwoods for 2 more decades. She eventually returned to
settled areas only to find herself in a mental institution. She was
eventually ejected for not being mentally ill but being just a tough old
miner. She died in an nursing home in Minnedosa. Although she is buried in
an unmarked grave, the owner of the Snow Lake Manitoba newspaper erected
tombstones for both miners. Kate’s tombstone reads “Extraordinary woman of
the wilds”. In 2014 Kate was inducted into the Canadian Miners Hall of Fame.
Sources: “Not Crazy, just a female prospector: Kate Rice honoured for mining
first” by Chris Purdy, Canadian Press, January 15, 2014 Online (Accessed
February 2014) ; Canadians All: Six portraits of our People by Terry
Angus et all. (Methuen, 1986)
Born Ontario. Born and raised in Ontario she was a school
teacher who had experienced pioneer farm life while keeping house on her
brother's farm in North Dakota. She was an honours graduate and then
lecturer at the Farm Dairy School of the Ontario Agricultural School in
Guelph. She conducted a traveling dairy in Nova Scotia and participated as
judge of butter, bread, jam, fruit and fancy work at many rural fairs. She
wrote and edited articles for farm publications. Her 300 page book Farm
Dairying was used as a text in agricultural colleges. Shortly after the
formation of the first Women's Institute, the Ontario Department of
Agriculture engaged her as a lecturer and organizer of Women's Institutes.
It was under her guidance that the British Columbia Women's Institute began
with the formation of the first fifteen institutes from Gordon Head on
Vancouver Island to Cranbrook in the Kootenays in 1909. Her report to the
B.C. Farmers' Institutes in 1910 indicates that her duties for the
department had been to tour the province explaining to the women the aims
and benefits of Institute association and then to help them with initial
organization and election of officers. She returned to Ontario Department of
Agriculture and by 1913 had married F. W. Stephen.
Mary Townsend Schaffer
SEE MARY TOWNSEND SCHAFFER WARREN
Clara 'Dolly' Scott
Side show persona
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Died April 28, 1991, Gibsonton, Florida, U.S.A.
Clara was only 3 feet all when she was fully grown. She was afflicted by
alkalosis of her joints and only her right hand was functional. In 1941 at
23 years of age she began a sideshow career as the ‘half-baby – half woman’
or the Ossified girl ‘Jolly Dolly’ with Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. She was
married three times. In 1972 until her death she was a member of the Ward
Hall’s Freak Show.
Source: Sideshow World. The Ossified Lady. Online (Accessed July
Elizabeth Catherine Shalla
Born November 19, 1890, Sherwood Township, Renfrew County, Ontario. Died May
29, 1978. Born close to Canada’s first polish settlement, Wilno, Ontario,
her parents were from Poland and she grew up speaking polish. Her father
fired Canadian men to work in his lumber business. The young workers were
boarded in the family home and the whole family leaned to speak English.
Elizabeth would keep a journal all her life in which she described life in
her community leaving a record of a way of life that has vanished. By June
1906 she had graduated high school and began attending classes at the
Convent of Mary Immaculate in Pembroke, Ontario. Excelling in French she
completed the 3 year program in just two years winning the Gold Medal for
her efforts. She then went on to study to become a teacher and taught first
at the Killaloe separate school in Renfrew County where she also taught
Catechism to the children on Sundays. Her next school was in Wilno. In 1915
she married Alex Shalla and their 1st child arrived in May 1916
followed by seven more children. Her husband died in 1937 leaving her to
raise their 8 children. After World War ll she was asked to teach Polish to
the children of the area. She continued these language lessons even after
1955 when she became a regular staff member at the school. She retired in
1967. While as a teacher she no doubt touched the lives of the Polish
descendants of Barry’s Bay she also left a legacy through her journals which
detailed earl settlers lives in Canada’s 1st Polish settlement.
Source: Brenda Lee-Whiting, ‘Along the Opopogo Trail: Memories of Canada’s
First Polish Settlement’ in The Beaver, February/March. 1992.
Physiotherapist & historian
profession is that of a psychotherapist but her avocation is that of hats.
She is cofounder of North Shore Wordsmith’s writers group. In 1985 she
earned the Canadian Achiever’s Award for entrepreneurship. In 1999 she set
up a mobile hat museum. She has also written several books on fashion
accessories through the decades. She is recognized as an authority on
vintage clothing and women’s hats.
Katherine 'Katerina' Sherbrooke
Born November 22, 1782, Barrow Hill Staffordshire, England. On August 24,
1811 Katherine married Sir John Coape Sherbrooke (1764-1830). In October
1811 she and her sister accompanied Sir John to Halifax, Nova Scotia where
Sir John took up the position of Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia.
Katherine, as first lady of the territory, took on the duty of entertaining
and hosting visitors on a daily basis. Some of her gatherings hosted some
200 guests at a time. Sir John served well during the War of 1812 and in
June of 1816 the couple relocated to Quebec where Sir John took up his new
position as Governor-in-chief or Governor General of British North America.
Here once again Katherine became the hostess to events in the capital
region. Sir John resigned his position in 1818 due to ill health and he
retired to Nottinghamshire in England. Various settlements in Nova Scotia
and Quebec are named for this Governor General and perhaps Katherine Street
in Quebec City can trace its origin to the name of the wife of a Governor
Source: Women of Valour , in Canadian History August-September
Jeanne St Laurant
Wife of a prime Minister.
Borne October 22, 1886, Beauceville, Quebec. Died November 14, 1966, Quebec
City, Quebec. She was the daughter of a prosperous merchant. She would meet
a young law clerk at a party in 1906. On May 19, 1908 she married Louis
Stephen St Laurent (1882-1973) who would serve as 12th Prime
Minister of Canada 1948-1957. The couple had 5 children. In 1913 their
family home was built in Quebec City. The 15 room house on Grand Allée has
been declared a heritage building.
Hilda Mary Slayter
Born April 5,
1882 , Halifax, Nova Scotia. Died April2, 1965, Norris Castle, England.
She left home in 1902 to pursue training in voice in Italy and England.
However a performing career was not to be her calling. She changed her life
direction when she met Harry Reginald Dunbar Lacon of British Columbia, and
the couple decided to marry. In order to return to Canada with her wedding
gown and trousseau (valued at some $7000.00 at the time), Hilda booked
passage on the Titanic in April 1912 as a second class passenger. Originally
when the Titanic struck an iceberg, she was told to go back to bed as there
was no danger. A half hour later the order to don lifejackets was raised.
She was pushed down the corridor to the ship side where she was placed in
lifeboat number 13. One of the last life boats to be lowered. She later
provided touching eyewitness accounts as husbands and wives were separated
and of children being handed over to the life boats by parents who stayed on
board the sinking ship. In lifeboat 13 there were 8 women, a husband and
wife and 10 month old baby and more than 40 men stokers, men who had manned
the furnaces in the bowels of the ship. In total 63 people huddled in the
life boat on the becalmed sea watching the mighty ship sink. The life boat
was eventually saved by the ship, Carpathia, and Titanic survivors
were taken to New York. Hilda continued her trip to British Columbia where
she was married in June 1912. The couple had one son who served with
distinction in the Royal Canadian Navy. Hilda is buried in her family plot
in Nova Scotia. Rosalee Peppard, a maritime Canadian musical Oral Historian
is commemorating the 100th anniversary with a new show – Living
Titanic – the musical memoir of Nova Scotia Survivor Hilda Mary Slayter
Sources: Brave musicians of ship meet fate trying to drown cries…Worcester
Evening Gazette, April 20, 1912. Online (Accessed March 2012) :
Titanic Remembered: The unsinkable ship and Halifax by Alan Ruffman.
Titanic, the Canadian Story. By Alan Hustak, Vehicule Press, 1999. ;
Rosalee.ca/titanic (Accessed March 2012)
Born 1968. Wendy was always fascinated by dinosaurs but unlike other young
children she did not grow out of this interest. She worked at summer jobs
looking for dinosaur bones. She actually found dinosaur egg shell chips in a
place where they had never been found before. She worked with a museum crew
finding shells with tiny unborn duckbilled dinosaurs. She became a
paleontology star! Wendy attended the University of Lethbridge, Alberta to
earn her BA in 2001. She had continued with searching for elusive dinosaur
findings and even has a dinosaur named after her, the Wendyicertiops. It is
a 6 meter long, two-ton beast with a prominent upright horn atop its nose.
It lived 79 million years ago during the Cretaceous period.
Source: Canadian girls who rocked the world by Tanya Lloyd Kyi,
Walrus Books, 2001
Sandy earned her Bachelor of Science at the University of Guelph in 1978 and
went on to study for her Master’s at Guelph in 1981. She obtained he PhD
from The University of Toronto in forestry and entomology. After graduating
from 1985-1987 she worked for Forestry Canada in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
She also worked at European Laboratories in France and Switzerland. In 1988
she became an assistant professor of the University of Toronto, the
beginning of a full career at the university. In 2010 – 2-12 she became the
1st woman appointed as Dean to the Faculty of Forestry. She has
written numerous scholarly papers and published with a variety of
professional journals. In 2012 she became a Minjiang Scholar at the Fujian
Agricultural and Forestry University in China. The Sandy Smith Research
Laboratories at the University of Toronto accommodates graduate students and
post doctorate Fellows. She has served as President of both the
Entomological Societies of Ontario and Canada. She has also served as
Examiner for the Ontario Professional Foresters Association. Sandy married
Graham Rempe and the couple has three sons.
survived being forced to attend the Indian Residential School system. She
also overcame having had tuberculosis (TB). She has served as an elder on
numerous councils, including the Wuskwatim-NCN dam project. Madeleine and
her life partner Wellington raised a large family and adopted many children
from their community. For some 30 years, these respected elders presented
culture workshops in western Canada and United States and were esteemed
members of the Elders Council of University College of the North. In 2010
she was honoured at the Keeping the Fires Burning Aboriginal Awards
celebrating female leaders for preserving First Nations culture and serving
as role models for younger generations.
Preprost, “Gala recognizes accomplishments”. Winnipeg Free Press
June 18, 2010 Page A13.
Born June 9, 1900, Perth, Australia. Died August 11, 1991, Vancouver,
British Columbia. She studied at Radcliffe College and earned her BA. She
moved to Vancouver in 1921. She has been and actor and director Vancouver
Little Theatre as well as direction with the University Players' Club in
1934-38. In 1937, she joined the University of British Columbia's extension
department and the following year founded its Summer School of Theatre. In
1946 she taught UBC's first theatre credit courses. In 1952 she received
Canadian Drama Award. In 1958 she helped found UBC's drama department. The
Dorothy Somerset Scholarship Fund was set up in 1965. In June 1991, she won
a Jessie Award for "humanity, integrity and encouragement of young talent in
Source: The Vancouver Hall of Fame online. Accessed November 2012)
Born November 8, 1920, Austria. Died January 19, 2016 Ottawa, Ontario.
Felicitas earned her PhD in engineering and agricultural sciences from
Hochschule fur Boden Kultur, Vienna and worked at the school from 1947-1951.
Relocating to Sweden she worked at the Swedish Seed Association and in 1953
she immigrated to Canada. She worked at the Central Experimental Farm in
Ottawa, Ontario for 33 years where she created roses named after well-known
explorers of North America that are grown around the world today. The 25
explorer roses with names like John Cabot, Martin Frobisher, Jens Monc and
Champlain are considered Canada’s greatest contribution to the world of
roses. Felicitas began working with roses in 1961 to develop plants that
would survive in the harsh Canadian climate. In 1968 she launched a 20 year
program and 1st ever national trial of ornament shrubs in Canada.
The Henry Hudson rose is so hardy it can survive in Zone 2 which includes
northern locations as Kapuskasing, Ontario and Fort McMurry, Alberta. She
also developed the ornamental plants named after dances such as the Minuet
and Tango as well as Northern Gold Forsythia. She authored numerous papers
for various professional journals. Her hardy plants are grown in Finland,
Russia as well and her native Austria. In 1985 she received a Certificate of
Merit from the Royal National Rose Society in Britain for the rose, John
Source: Dean Peters, Obituaries, Globe and Mail November 19, 2016.
Anna Haining Swan.
Born August 7, 1846, Mill Brook, Nova Scotia. Died August 5, 1888, Seville,
Ohio, U.S.A. Anna was 1 of 13 children who were born all normal sized
babies. However by the time she was 5 years old she was already 4’8” tall!
As an adult she stood 7’6” tall (advertised as 8’) and weighed 350 pounds.
At 16 the famous circus entrepreneur P.T. Barnum brought Anna and her mother
to New York City where she earned $1,000.00 a month at the American Museum
on Broadway. She was partnered with Commodore George Washington Morrison who
was 29” tall and weighed 24 pounds! She was almost killed in a fire at the
museum on July 13, 1865 when unable to escape down the burning stairs she
was too large to escape through a window. It took and block and tackle with
18 men to help her escape! While travelling to Europe she met Martin Van
Bruen Bates who stood 7’ 22” (that is the description!) and weighed 470
pounds. The two were married June 17, 1871 in London, England. After a tour
of Europe billed as the World’s largest married couple, they settled in Ohio
where they built a house with 14’ ceilings and furniture to suit their size.
Anne would have two children who where born very large babies and
unfortunately did not live past a few days. Some of her clothes and other
personal articles are displayed at a museum in Tatamgouche, Nova Scotia,
near the town where she was born.
Source: Phyllis R. Blakeley, “SWAN, ANNA HAINING,” in
Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 11, University of
Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, Online (Accessed August 2014) ;
Anne A. Taylor
Born August 4, 1946, Sherbrooke, Quebec. Died June 28, 2014, Ottawa,
Ontario. She graduated Bishops University in 1967 and then spent a year
studying at the University of Sussex in England. She married Mark Stiles and
the couple had two children. After university she taught 1st in
Montreal and then at the Dene First Nations at Haybay, Alberta. In 1975 she
accepted a position with the National Film Board in Ottawa where she was the
founder and co director of the Media Awareness Network now known as
MediaSmarts. She retired in 2005. She enjoyed combining two of her passions,
music and children by working with Ottawa’s Leading Note Foundation and
Orkidstra music program. She was presented the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award
for her outstanding contribution to healthy development of children and
Source: Obituaries, Ottawa Citizen, July 2, 2014.
Suggestion submitted by June Coxon, Ottawa, Ontario.
Annie Emma Affleck Thompson
Wife of a Prime Minister
née Affleck. Born June 26, 1845 Halifax, Nova Scotia. Died April 10, 1913
Toronto, Ontario. Annie was raised a Catholic so when she married John
Sparrow David Thompson (1845 -1894) a Protestant at the Bishop’s Palace in
Portland, Main on July 5, 1870 it was with special permission. The couple
would have 8 children, 5 of whom lived past infancy. Sir John Thompson was
lawyer, judge, politician, and
university professor, who served as the fourth Prime Minister of Canada
December 5, 1892. In 1888 the family moved to Ottawa for John to take a
government office. She became Lady Thompson when her husband was knighted by
Queen Victoria. Annie was a strong personality who was a major supporter of
her rather shy, timid husband. She was a sincere and busy host to Ottawa
members of parliament. When the family could no longer afford a staff cook
prior to him becoming Prime Minister, Annie prepared meals for dinner
parties hosting some 250 people in 1892. On December 12, 1994 Sir John died
of a heart attack while in England. Lady Thompson moved to Toronto were her
small income was bolstered by a small supplement from the Canadian
Parliament. Both Sir John and Lady Thompson were lifelong voracious letter
writers. When the family moved to Toronto their baggage included some 30
trunks of saved correspondence now preserved in the Library and Archives
Canada. Annie worked with Lady Aberdeen on the newly formed National Council
of Women of Canada.
Sources: “Obituary”, The Toronto Evening Telegram, April 11, 1913. ;
“Annie Emma Affleck”, Dictionary of Canadian Biography 1911-1920, vol.
XIV Online Accessed April 2013.
guide and translator
Born 1838, Cumberland Sound Baffin Island.
Died December 31, 1876. She was recorded in history with several names:
Hannah, Taqulittuq, Tackritow. She made contact with some arctic
explorers/adventurers and became a teacher and interpreter both of Inuit
languages and of a way of life and survival. She became fluent in the
English language and could also read and write in English. She embraced
Christianity adding it to the guidance of her Inuit beliefs and teachings.
She and her husband Ipirvik, also known as Joe, would sail to England on a
whaler and there, be presented to Queen Victoria. They would live for
several months on a couple of occasions in the U S A where they would help
raise funds with the explorer/adventurer, Charles Hall to continue his
explorations in search of the lost Franklin expedition and the North Pole.
In October 15, 1872 she, her husband, adopted daughter Punny and sixteen
others fro the Polaris Expedition became separated from their ship. They
would spend 6 1/2 months on a large ice floe surviving a 1,500 mile journey
in Arctic waters until rescued on April 30, 1873 near the coast of Labrador.
In 1981, Canada's Historic Sites and Monuments Board, designated Tookoolito
and Ipirvik, National Historic Persons.
Margaret Joan Trudeau
Wife of a Prime Minister
née Sinclair. Born September 10,1948 Vancouver, British Columbia. She studied
English literature at Simon Fraser University. At 18, while vacationing in
Tahiti she met the then Justice Minister of Canada, Pierre Elliott Trudeau
( -2000). She barley took notice of the encounter but Pierre had noticed.
Much to the surprise of the entire nation the couple were married in a
private ceremony on March 4, 1971. He was serving at this time as the 15th
Prime Minister of Canada (1968-1979 & 1980-1984). Margaret declared “I want
to be more than a rose in my husband’s lapel” The couple would live in a
tightly scrutinized bubble. They had three children together but there were
problems on the home front. In 1977 the couple separated and Margaret with
her jet setting ways became an embarrassment and a liability. She gave many
"tell-all" interviews to Canadian and American magazines and appeared in two
motion pictures. She was reported to have had affairs with celebrities and
danced in a New York City club the night her husband lost an election. In
1984 the couple divorced with Pierre retaining custody of their three sons.
Shortly after the divorce Margaret married Fried Kempler in 1984 and the
couple had two children. While she lived a quiet life she did become
Honorary president of WaterCan, an Ottawa-based organization dedicated to
helping the poorest communities in developing countries build sustainable
water supply and sanitation services. In November 1998 Michael Trudeau, the
youngest of the Trudeau boys died in an avalanche near Kokanee Lake, British
Columbia. The following year her second marriage had failed and she became
divorced. In 2000 she was at Pierre’s side when he died. Even though they
were divorced the love had remained. The shock of these last events close to
one another caused a breakdown for Margaret. In 2006, she announced that she
had been suffering from bipolar disorder. Since then, she has advocated for
reduced stigma of mental illness — bipolar disorder in particular — with
speaking engagements across North America. She wrote Changing My Mind,
a book about her personal experience having bipolar disorder, published by
HarperCollins Canada in 2010.
Frances Amelia Tupper
Wife of a Prime Minister
née Morse. Born March 14,
1826, Amherst, Nova Scotia. Died May 10, 1912, Nova Scotia.On October 8 1846
she married Charles Tupper 1821-1915) a young Nova Scotia physician and a
future Prime Minister of Canada, 1896. When Sir Charles was knighted by
Queen Victoria for his contributions to his country and the Empire, his wife
became Lady Frances Tupper. Sir Charles was only to serve in the tip office
as Prime Minister for a period of ten weeks, the shortest term of any prime
minister to 2013. Frances may not have had time to leave he imprint as 1st
lady but she was hostess for all of her husband’s various political offices
in Ottawa. The couple were married for 66 years. The couple had 6 children,
3 boys and 3 girls, two of whom died in infancy. Two of their sons followed
their father into political careers.
Eugenie Lee 'Frankie' Turner
RCAF Women's Division WW ll
Francoeur. Born November 30, 1922 Lachine, Quebec. Her friends and her
brother all signed up to serve in World War ll. She could not enlist until
the Canadian government allowed women to join the forces in 1942 and she
enlisted on October 12, 1942 in the Royal Canadian Air Force Women’s
Division. Her mother objected going right to the recruiting office but
finally her family let her go. She took basic training at Rockcliffe base in
Ottawa and took courses in teletype. Most English speaking Canadians in her
group could not pronounce her French Canadian name correctly so she became
‘Frankie’. Her 1st posting was to Gander , Newfoundland and in
1943 back to Montreal. When she turned 21 she qualified to serve overseas
and was posted to no. 6 Group, Bomber Command in Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire,
England where she worked as a teletype operator. It was here she met Hall
Turner, another Canadian in the service who hailed from Winnipeg. The
married on March 25, 1945 in York , England where she was working. On May 8,
1945 they sailed by to Canada. The couple raised 5 children 1st
in Winnipeg, then Montreal before relocating to California. Two of their
sons volunteered to fight in Vietnam. Eugenie retuned to Canada to live in
Kelowna, British Columbia after the death of her husband in 1983.
Florence, RCAF Airwoman ‘wouldn’t have missed it for the world’.
Elinor Florence’s Blog Online (Accessed July 2015)
Geills MacCrae Turner
Wife of a Prime Minister
Born December 23,1937 Winnipeg, Manitoba. She attended Harvard Business
School in the U.S.A. and was employed at IBM. She was a campaign worked for
the 1962 federal election and brought computers into John Turner’s campaign
offices. In 1963 married John Napier Turner (1929- ) who would become the
17th Prime Minister of Canada June through September 1984. The
couple have 4 children. She did not care for the members of the Canadian
press and the way she was portrayed. Basically she tried to stay out of the
way of the press.
Ottawa Women; milestones and mentors Online accessed July 2013.
(her name is pronounced Jill)
née Bryanton. Born Spring Valley, Prince Edward Island November 23,
1944. After high School she married Edwin Wall and the couple settled to
raise a family of 5 children who would grow up in the P.E.I. countryside. As
if raising five children were not time consuming enough, Katherine became
totally involved with the volunteer life of her community. From 1963- 2003
she was a member and served several terms as branch president of the Women’s
Institute of P.E.I. From 1966 – 2000 she volunteered for the Red Cross in
the Water Safety Programme. 1975- 2000 she was a community School
Volunteer. In 1977 she was awarded the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal. In 1997
she was the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year for Kensington and Area
Recreation Association. In 1999 she received a Certificate of Celebration
for her 30 years of 4-H Club leadership which included Atlantic and National
levels for several years. In 2001 she was inducted into the Order of Prince
Edward Island. Source: Canadian Who’s Who 2005. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press,
Evelyn "Lynn" Beatrice Tyrrell
Born March 2, 1920, London England. Died May 25, 2013, Toronto, Ontario. She
did not like her stepfather and left home taking schooling at a private
Pitman’s school. She worked for the British Armed forces as a stenographer
during World War ll. She earned extra money working evenings as a cocktail
waitress and ended up married to bartender Ronald Emil Tyrell about 1944.
She opened a consignment shop to sell clothes of wealthy clients and found
success. With her money she bought a house in London for her family which
had now expanded to include 2 children. In 1947 the family sailed for
Jamaica purchasing the White River Hotel and Club. Their clients included
notables such as the playwright Noel Coward. By 1950 her restless husband
had the family immigrate to Toronto where their 4th child was
born. Ron became Mr. Mom, well before it was fashionable, and Lynn
apprenticed with dressmaker Rudy Lishka. Shortly after she opened her own
fashion ship call The Baroness. She fashioned gowns for the Miss Canada
Pageant participants and promotional outfits for Rothman’s cigarettes as
well as hostess uniforms for Trans Canada Airlines. She only closed her shop
in the 1980’s when the work was too much for her. She mentored students at
Seneca College and remained involved with Fashion Group International until
the last years of her life.
Source: “Obituaries. Designer Brought Chic to Dreary Toronto ‘50’s.” by
Susan Ferrier MacKay. The Globe and Mail, June 18, 2013. Suggestion
submitted by June Coxon, Ottawa, Ontario.
Citizen of Toronto
née Fleming. Born 1837, Dromore County Tyrone, Ireland. Died 1918, Toronto,
Ontario. At 9 she sailed from Ireland with her family. Her little brother
and sister and a 9 month old baby died on the voyage across the sea. Her 11
year old sister died at the quarantine station at Grosse Isle, Quebec
shortly after they landed. The family spent 3 years in Montreal and in 1850
settled in Toronto. In 1854 at 17 she married John Verner. The couple ran a
grocery store that supported their community especially when times were
tough. While they had no children of their own there house was often crowded
with tots in need of love and care who had lost parents. At times they
became the surrogate parents for families stricken by the death of either
one or both parents. This couple were always there for their community.
Source: Cabbagetown People: the Social History of a Canadian Inner City
Neighbourhood. Online (Accessed March 2014)
Born 1982. Larissa had parents who could answer her science oriented
when she was just 9 she heard colleagues saying that science was just for
boys. She created the Canadian Association for Girls in Science – CAGIS that
encourages girls to follow their interests in Science by promoting science,
technology, engineering and mathematics – STEM. CAGIS has now provincial
chapters. In 2004, for her work with CAGIS she received the National Science
and Engineering Council’s Michael Smith Award for Science Promotion. In 2006
she was named one of Canada’s most powerful women by the Toronto Globe and
Mail newspaper. That same year she received the TD scholarship for
outstanding community leadership and the Toronto YWCA awarded her the Young
Woman of Distinction Award. Larissa holds a Bachelor of Science from the
University of Toronto and a PhD from McMaster University. In 2017 she held a
post-doctoral position at York University , Toronto, Ontario. Larissa is
also the author of several books targeted to girls in which the young heroes
solve mysteries using their science backgrounds.
Source: Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Canadian Girls Who Rocked The World. Walrus
Mary Townsend Schaffer Warren
(sometime recorded as Sharpless). Born October 4, 1861, West Chester,
Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Died January 23, 1939 Banff, Alberta. Mary 1st
came to the Canadian Rockies in 1888/1889 with a group, the Philadelphia
Academy of Natural Sciences. She fell in love with the land and returned
each year. In 1989 she returned with her new husband Dr. Charles Schaffer
who was also an amateur botanist. After Charles death in 1903 Mary published
a book of his botanical work. Since few guides would take women she
explored with another woman, Mary Vaux (1860-1940) a fellow American Quaker.
Eventually a William Warren agreed to guide these lady explorers and they
explored the Yoyo Valley and Moraine Lake area. Mary is considered Jasper
National Park’s 1st tourist as she was the 1st white
woman to travel through the area. She was also an accomplished artist,
photographer and writer. In 1903 she traveled as far north as the Columbia
ice fields. In 1911 she published the book, Old Indian Trails of the
Canadian Rockies. That same year at the request of the Canadian Parks
Department she returned to the area to provide more detailed information. By
1912 she had decided to relocate permanently and purchased a home in Banff,
Alberta. In 1915 she married her former Guide William Warren. Mount
Schaffer, located between Lake O’Hara and Lake McArthur in Yo Yo National
Park was named in her honour in 1909. Some of her personal papers are
preserved in the Alberta Provincial Archives. Sources: Kay Saunderson,
200 Remarkable Alberta Women, (Famous Five Foundation, 1999); Mary
Schaffer Warren, Find a Grave, online (Accessed September 2015).
Books: Cindi Smith, Off the Beaten Track (Lake Louise; Coyote Books,
1989); Janice Sanford, No Ordinary Woman (Rocky Mountain Books,
Born 1899, Bunzlau, Germany. Died October 30, 1989, Vancouver, British
Columbia. At 19, came to Victoria, British Columbia to work as a nanny. She
married a logger, and moved to Powell River. Later she became divorced and
moved to Vancouver where she met and married Isaac Watts in 1944. She was
the 1st female employee of Scott Paper's New Westminster mill, "rolling
toilet paper" for 22 years. She was known to be very frugal and she became
a millionaire from stocks and real estate investments. She became a patron
of the Variety Club of B.C., donating over $500,000 to children's projects.
She received the Variety Club Humanitarian Award from Prince Philip in
London, England, in 1987.
Source: The Vancouver Hall of Fame Online (Accessed December 2012)
Ann Marie Weems
Born 1841 Montgomery County, Maryland, U.S.A. A slave of the Prince
family Ann Marie watched as her mother and siblings were sold off to other
slave owners. At 15 she managed to escape captivity and began to travel the
famous Underground railroad to freedom. With the help of a white doctor, and
she cut her hair and disguised herself as a valet. The dangerous journey got
her to Philadelphia. She continued her journey to Buffalo, still dressed as
a boy. In Buffalo a Rev. William kink helped her to cross the boarder to the
settlement of Buxton in Canada. Adopted by a kindly family she would
eventually marry and have children. Her story is told in a book for young
readers. Steeling Freedom by Elisa Carbone (1998) .
Her name is
spelled various ways in sources: Anne Marie; Annemarie ; Anna Maria etc.
Born Krakow, Poland. November 19, 1983. In 1986 she and her family emigrated
from their home in the Ukraine. She reached 5’ 11” as a teen and was
encouraged to enter modeling by a friend’s mother. She entered the Susan J.
Model and Talent Management in Toronto. At 14 she won a national modeling
contest and soon switched to Elite Models. At first she was actually
uncomfortable as a model and looked at the profession as a way of financing
studies in art. Within a short time she had gained a foothold on the
international runways. She became the world’s model and holds the record for
opening and closing the most shows in a single season. She has worked for
the world’s top firms such as Lancôme, Prada, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent,
Gucci, Valentino and many others. In 2008 she was inducted into Canada’s
Walk of Fame in Toronto.
Yvonne Valleau Wildman
Valleau. Born August 1, 1923, Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. Her family lived in
Portland 7 years before returning home to Kindersley, Saskatchewan when
Yvonne was 4 years old. Seeking to provide for his family of 8 children her
father searched for work in British Columbia and in September 1937 his wife
and family joined him on the west coast. Yvonne helped out working on a
chicken farm. She also cleaned house for a piano teacher in exchange for
lessons for herself. At 19 she and her girlfriend headed for Victoria to
join the Royal Canadian Air Force. Basic training took place in Ottawa,
Ontario. She was assigned to photography and had her 1st trip in
an aeroplane during aerial photography part of her course. After training
she was posted to Service Flight Training Schools Number 19, Vulcan, Alberta
where she was nicknamed ‘Val’. Of this time in her life she remembers the
close commraderie best but there was also hard work developing training
pictures. She returned to Duncan, British Columbia after the war. On July
17, 1946 she married Clarence Wildman and the couple raised 7 children in
Source: Elinor Florence, RCAF photographer Yvonne Valleau. Blog: Wartime
Wednesdays. Online. Accessed September 2015.
Lorraine Mary Williams
Born December 8, 1932, Died July 4, 2014, Markham, Ontario. In 1957 she
married John Reesor Williams and the couple raised five children. She earned
her BA and went on to study for her Masters degree in social work. She
worked as a senior social worker in the correctional, forensic psychiatry
fields. She also founded a private psychotherapy and marriage counseling
practice in Toronto. She was an active volunteer including being a member on
the Visiting Homemakers Association, Chair of the Social Action Committee of
the YWCA of Metro Toronto, executive secretary of the Indian-Eskimo
Association of Canada, Board member of the Marguerite Bourgeoys Family
Center, founding Board Member of the Human Life Research Institute, Chair of
the North York Public Library Board, Member of the Metro Toronto Reference
Library Board of Trustees, President of the Ontario and later the Canadian
Library Trustee Associations, member of the founding committee for St.
Timothy’s Willowdale Parish and Parish Council, President of St. Timothy’s
Catholic League, and an active leader in Discovery Theatre, a forum for
adult inquiry. She was also an active journalist writer and author. She was
a contributing editor to The Catholic Register and editor of the
pro-life magazine, The Uncertified Human. She published 2 books
about the relationship between Library Trustees and Library CEO’s as well as
publication of the Ontario Library Trustees Handbook. Her last completed
book was Memories of the Beach: Reflections on a Toronto Childhood,
Source: Williams Lorraine Mary, Obituaries. Globe and Mail. July 7
Suggestion submitted by June Coxon, Ottawa, Ontario.
Jane B. Wisdom
Born 1884. Died 1975. She apprenticed in social work in New York State,
U.S.A. in the early 1910’s and is considered one of Canada’s 1st
professional social workers. She returned from New York in 1916 when she was
asked to become head of the Halifax Bureau of Social Service and also work
with the Halifax Relief Commission which was set up after the Great Halifax
explosion in December 1917. In 1921 she helped write a report out of Nova
Scotia recommending the creation of a provincial mother’s allowance scheme.
This reform would not be implemented by 1930. By the early 1920’s she had
relocated to Montreal to complete her studies and lecture in social work. In
the shadow of the 1920’s and 1930’s Montreal she worked with young single
mothers and headed Montreal’s Women’s Directory. By 1939 she had once again
settled in Nova Scotia. In 1941 Jane became the 1st welfare
officer in Glace Bay making her the 1st municipal welfare officer
in Nova Scotia. She retired from this position in 1952. Her biography has
been written by Suzanne Morton, Wisdom Justice and Charity: A Canadian
Social Welfare through the life of Jane B. Wisdom, published by the
University of Toronto Press in 2014.
Katherine MacLean Wood.
Air Traffic Controller
Born Dumbarton, Scotland
1911. Died December 27, 2004. She emigrated to Canada with her family in
1930. She would become Canada's 1st female Air Traffic Controller.