A Guide to Women in Canadian History

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Canadian Illustrated News, Aug.7, 1880
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This Month in Canadian Herstory: January
  • Letitia Youmans
    January 3, 1827
    Letitia Creighton (Youmans) was born in a log cabin in Hamilton Township, Upper Canada. Raised in the Methodist Church, she became a school teacher and married widower Arthur Youmans. Her concerns about the evils of alcohol led to her involvement in the temperance movement, and Letitia Youmans became a prominent speaker and campaigner. She was the first president of the Dominion Women's Christian Temperance Union.

  • January 19, 1989
    Heather Erxleben became the first female combat soldier in Canada, after completing her training at the Canadian Forces Base in Wainwright, Alberta.

  • January 22, 1992

    Roberta Bondar

    Roberta Bondar, Canada's first female astronaut, blasted into space on the US space shuttle Discovery. More from our Biographies section.

  • Frances Brooke

    Frances Brooke
    (Library and Archives Canada/Acc. No. 1981-88-1)
    January 23, 1789
    Author Frances Brooke died in England. While living in Quebec with her husband, a military chaplain, Frances Brooke wrote The History of Emily Montague. The book is recognized as the first Canadian novel and Frances is said to be the first novelist in North America.

  • January 24, 1927
    Phyllis Lambert was born in Montreal, the daughter of industrialist Samuel Bronfman. A graduate of Vassar College, she became a renowned architect who founded the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal.

  • January 28, 1914
    In a campaign to secure the right to vote for women in Manitoba, suffragist Nellie McClung and the Political Equality League organized a mock "Women's Parliament" in the Walker Theatre in Winnipeg. Nellie and her team wanted to get the people of the province laughing at the absurdity of denying the vote to women. Nellie was a hit in her role as Premier Roblin. The play was a great success, as reported in The Winnipeg Telegram the following day:


    Nellie McClung

    Nellie McClung
    (Cyril Jessop/Library and Archives Canada/PA-030212)
    Judging from the aggregation of femininity at the Walker Theatre last night, Winnipeg homes must have been masculine manned for once in their existence during the evening. The big theatre was packed to the roof with all ages and types of "the female of the species," undoubtedly as a demonstration of sympathy with the women who sought in vain the other day for the extension of the franchise to women in Manitoba.

    From the standpoint of an entertainment, it was excellent and few burlesques or light comedy productions have ever met with a heartier response than last night's burlesque on the system of government as it exists today. The performers may have been amateurs, but they were only amateur in name. As a matter of fact they were the real thing so far as woman suffrage is concerned so they were naturally quite at home in their roles, even if they were a wee bit nervous at first. But the spirit of the thing seemed to catch them all and consequently the performance was an entire success, from both the point of view of artists and the audience. The women who portrayed the characters of politicians both in and out of office appeared to take quite naturally to their parts; in fact, it might be said that they actually revelled in the pretence of holding office and that secret ambition they all shared is undoubtedly accountable for the great success of the entire program.
    (The Winnipeg Telegram. January 29th, 1914)

  • January 28, 1916
    Manitoba granted the vote to women, becoming the first province in Canada to do so.

  • Lilith Fair
    January 28, 1968
    Sarah McLachlan was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After studying at the Nova Scotia Conservatory of Music, she became a famous singer and songwriter. In 1996 Sarah founded an all-female music festival called Lilith Fair, which toured widely for three years. Because of this initiative and her efforts to advance the careers of women in the music business, Sarah McLachlan received the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Visionary Award in 1998.
    More from the official Sarah McLachlan website.

More pages from This Month in Canadian Herstory:

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