Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Janis Grantham

President, Chief Operating Officer

Studied and works in Ottawa.

Co-Founder, President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Eagle Professional Resources, an information technology (IT) staffing company with offices across Canada.

Studied Computer Science at Carleton University and has an MBA from the Queen’s Executive Program.

Has more than twenty years of industry experience starting as a computer programmer and working in various consulting and management roles.

Listed as number 4 on Canada’s Top 100 Women Business Owners list.

Has been on Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100 list.

Consumers Choice Business Woman of the Year for Ottawa-Gatineau in 2005.

Finalist in the 2002 Ontario Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Charlotte Lemieux

Teacher, professor, administrator

1932-1988; born in Ottawa.

Obtained a BA (1969) and a Master’s degree (1972) at the University of Ottawa.

Involved at multiple levels of education from teaching to director of education and faculty professor.

Received the “Mérite franco-ontarien en éducation" in 1987, the highest honour bestowed by the Association des enseignants franco-ontariens.

Received the Order of Ontario in 1988 for her exceptional contribution to youth education, her career spanning 37 years.

First francophone to be director of education for a school board in Ontario.

Member of many boards including the University of Ottawa, Agonquin Collge, The Canadian Association for Education and many more.

In November 1988, the Public School Board of Eastern Ontario named a school in her honour in Ottawa West : l’École Charlotte-Lemieux.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Charlotte Gray

Author, professor, historian

Lives and works in Ottawa.

Most recent book is Nellie McClung, a biography of the leader of the first wave of Canadian feminism (2008).

Some of her previous books include:
  • Reluctant Genius: The Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bell, which was a 2006 bestseller, and won the Donald Creighton Award for Ontario History;
  • A Museum Called Canada (2004);
  • Sisters in the Wilderness, The Lives of Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill (1999).

Adjunct research professor in the Department of History at Carleton University.

Sits on the boards of the Dominion Institute and Canada’s National History Society, and is a member of the Historica Council.

Recipient of the Pierre Berton Award in 2003 for distinguished achievement in popularizing Canadian history.

Member of the Order of Canada.

Diane Pacom

Professor, sociologist, University of Ottawa

“[…teaching is the core of [the] academic mission". – Diane Pacom

Arrived at the University of Ottawa in 1978.

Expert in cultural sociology and contemporary sociology theories, with a focus on youth.

Recipient of the first annual Rector's Award in 2003 for Service to the University of Ottawa through Media and Community Relations.

Recipient of a Capital Educators Award in 2002.

Recipient of the OCUFA Teaching and Academic LibrarianshipTeaching Award in 2003.

Her teaching style is often described as "unique" in its ability to stimulate her students’ interest in the subject matter and to create a pedagogical space where students are encouraged to "think, question, develop their critical senses and outdo themselves."

Judith Maxwell

Expert on social and economic policy

Founding President of Canadian Policy Research Networks [CPRN], located in Ottawa.

Expert on how social and economic policy choices complement each other, and how they intersect within the Canadian experience.

One of Canada's top thinkers, highly regarded commentator on economic and social issues in Canada.

Writer and a member of the editorial board of the Financial Times of Canada, and past Director of Policy Studies at the C.D. Howe Institute.

Chair of the Economic Council of Canada from 1985 to 1992.

Received the Order of Canada in 1996; also a member of the Board of Directors of BCE Inc. and formerly Clarica, the Bank of Canada and Mobil Oil Canada; received honourary degrees from seven Canadian universities.

Appointed one of the first Trudeau Mentors by the Trudeau Foundation in 2004.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Celia Franca


1921-2007; lived and worked in Ottawa.

Born in England; moved to Ottawa circa 1974.

First artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada, she was an important influence on the development of ballet in Canada.

In 1951, the National Ballet of Canada gave its first public performance under her direction. She directed the company until 1974.

First dance artist inducted into the Order of Canada in 1967.

In 1978, co-artistic director (with Merrilee Hodgins) of the School of Dance in Ottawa.

Jacquelin Holzman

Mayor of Ottawa from 1991 to 1997

Third woman to be mayor of Ottawa (Charlotte Whitton was the first, Marion Dewar, the second).

First elected to Ottawa city council in 1982.

Prominent volunteer in the Ottawa community, especially on causes relating to the disabled; over 25 years of community service.

Past chair of the board of directors for the Royal Ottawa Hospital; played a leadership role in the planning of the new Regional Rehabilitation Centre in 1981.

Involved in fundraising for The Ottawa Hospital Foundation and the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club.

Served as governor of Algonquin College, the Community Foundation of Ottawa and as the Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa.

Member of the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa, honorary chair of Breast Cancer Action, and chair of the Ottawa Health Research Institute.

Co-author of Ottawa Then & Now, a 200-year retrospective of Canada’s capital city.

Received an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa and a YM-YWCA Woman of Distinction Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Monique Bégin

Professor emeritus, politician

Born in 1936.

Was the Executive Secretary of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada (1967-1970).

First woman from Québec elected to the House of Commons (Liberal, 1972).

Was Minister of National Health and Welfare (1977-1984) and remains best known for the Canada Health Act (1984).

First holder of the Joint Chair in Women's Studies at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University in 1986.

From 1990 to 1997, was the University of Ottawa's dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and continues teaching as a professor emeritus.

Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at University of Ottawa (1990-1997), also co-chaired the Royal Commission on Learning of Ontario (1993-1994).

Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (1996), received 13 honorary doctorates in recognition of her contribution to human rights and to public policies.

In 1998, she was invested as Officer of the Order of Canada.

Margaret Beznak

Professor Emeritus of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa

Worked in Ottawa.

Past Chair of the Department of Physiology, Vice Dean and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Medicine.

Was a member of Senate and of the Board of Governors at the University of Ottawa, the first woman to act in this capacity in Canada.

Received her MD in Hungary.

Joined the University of Ottawa in 1953 and became Chair of the Department of Physiology in 1959.

Recipient of the Excellence in Research Award at the University of Ottawa in 1964.

Retired in 1979 and granted the rank of Professor Emeritus.

Passed away in 1999.

Rima Aristocrat

President and CEO of Willis College in Ottawa, Philanthropist

Lives and works in Ottawa.

Transformed a small secretarial school into a leading e-business and Internet training institute.

Maintains a leadership role in the high technology training industry.

The only Canadian represented on Microsoft's Education Council.

Initiated the first Canadian Academic Development Institute (CADI), implemented the first inter-provincial partnership between a university and a private college and launched the Canadian Aboriginal IT training initiative, TeKnoWave.

Received numerous awards for her contribution to education, including recognition in the Who's Who of Canadian Women, named as one of Ottawa's 100 most influential leaders, listed among 2000 of the world's respected individuals by Who's Who in the 21st Century.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Since 1800...

“People must know the past to understand the present and face the future.” — Nellie McClung, 1935

Countless women of vision have expressed their excellence in politics, education, social development, business, arts and culture since Bytown became incorporated as the city of Ottawa in 1855. And even before...

Whether you are a tourist who wishes to become more familiar with the city’s historical mentors and milestones, or a student researching a project on the contribution of women to Canadian history, or a citizen of the capital region interested in learning about people and events, Women in Ottawa: Mentors and Milestones provides an opportunity to appreciate 200 years of women’s accomplishments.

This blog includes contributions from both French and English women from as early as 1800. It celebrates history and pays tribute to the many women who have contributed knowledge, expertise, experience and commitment to building the city of Ottawa and the institutions of Canada. I will be adding information on an ongoing basis.

Every one of the women profiled in this blog is an inspiration and a reference. They have broken through barriers, modeled the way for citizenship, encouraged women and men to move beyond limiting roles imposed by the society of their time.

They are mentors who have shown boldness, diversity and vulnerability. Many of them have accomplished “female firsts” in Ottawa, reaching milestones and leaving their print on Canadian history and the world stage.

Please note: The information provided in this blog is referenced from reputable sources listed at the end of each entry. I cannot verify each statement at this time.

Great Women of the Outaouais

Facing Ottawa on the north shore of the Ottawa River, in the province of Quebec, is the city of Gatineau, founded circa 1800 as Wrightstown and renamed Hull in 1875. Incredible women from this region have influenced the history of the Ottawa-Gatineau region, the province of Quebec, and indeed all of Canada.

Karine Cellard
Author, professor

Born in Chelsea, Quebec; works in Montreal.

The only woman from the Ottawa-Gatineau region to be nominated for a Governor General literary award in 2011, for her book Leçons de littérature : un siècle de manuels scolaires au Québec (non fiction).

Chantal Hébert
Columnist and political commentator

Born in Ottawa (Hull) c. 1955.

Educated at Glendon College of York University.

Senior Fellow of Massey College at the University of Toronto.

Began her media career in 1975 at the regional television and radio newsroom of the French language Radio-Canada facility in Toronto.

Appointed by Radio-Canada to cover federal politics on Parliament Hill, and worked as bureau chief for Montreal's Le Devoir and La Presse.

Respected for her straightforward and factual approach to political issues, over the years her columns have also been published by the London Free Press, the Ottawa Citizen and the National Post and currently in Le Devoir and the Toronto Star.

Published French Kiss: Stephen Harper's Blind Date with Quebec in 2007.

Mireille Apollon

Born in Haiti. Moved to Canada in 1982.

Presently city councilor in Gatineau, QC.

Served as Canada's Consul to Senegal and as a manager at the Canadian International Development Agency, where she was actively involved in Canada's efforts to improve living conditions for disadvantaged people.

Was a member of the board of directors of A-Dialogue, President of the Association des femmes immigrantes de l'Outaouais, and a key member of Femmes, politique et démocratie, a cornerstone of the Centre de développement femmes et gouvernance (Centre for Development of Women in Governance) at Quebec's École nationale d'administration publique.

Received the Ordre de Gatineau medal in 2008.

Donalda Charron, 1886-1967
Union militant; “foreman” at E.B. Eddy

First woman president of a union (syndicate) in the Outaouais.

Leader of the “famous strike” by matchmakers in 1924 which greatly improved working conditions for the women working at E.B.Eddy.

Yvette Debain
Pioneer in visual arts

Founded the L'Imagier exhibition centre in 1975 in Aylmer. Over the past 30 years, l'Imagier has exhibited works by at least 300 professional artists from the region and elsewhere.

In 1986, Ms. Debain also spearheaded the creation of parc de l'Imaginaire.

Received the Ordre de Gatineau medal in 2005.

Laurette Larocque-Auger, 1905-1965
Actress, author and critic

Born in Hull.

Better known in French Canada under her pen name Jean Despréz.

Is an integral part of the history of French Canada's theatre, radio, cinema and television. The concert hall Jean-Despréz located at 25 Laurier Street in Gatineau was named in her honour.

Louise Tanguay

Born in Hearst, Ontario; lives in Aylmer, Quebec.

For over 40 years, has been photographing the world around her and has won many awards for her work.

Her photographs have been published in newspapers and magazines such as La Presse, The Globe and Mail, Canadian Geographic and Winds, Japan Air Lines' in-flight magazine. Her slideshows and lectures have travelled extensively, and her photography workshops have drawn participants from the four corners of Canada. Her work has been exhibited in galleries in both Ontario and Quebec.

Has authored many articles on photography, published many works and produced two coffee-table books, NATURA and FLORA. The Reford Gardens and Treasures of Reford Gardens, books illustrated with Louise's photographs, made the best-seller lists of the summers of 2004 and 2005.

She has also produced the photographs and did the layout for a series of Guides to the Gardens of Quebec, published in both English and French. The collection currently groups six volumes.

Has published. Jewels of Hawai’i describing Allerton Garden and McBryde Garden on the island of Kauai.

Nycole Turmel

Born 1943.

Elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the 2011 election.She represents the electoral district of Hull—Aylmer as a member of the New Democratic Party. Presently interim leader of the NDP (as of July 2011).

Upon her election in 2011, she was the first non-Liberal to win the area in 120 years.

From 1979 to 2006, she held different Union positions at the local, regional and national levels. Upon retiring, she was National President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the first women to ever hold that position.

From 2007 to 2011, she was Vice-President of the Ombudsman Office of the City of Gatineau.

A Research Academic Chair at UQAM on public spaces and political innovations was named in her honor.

Abigail Wyman Wright, 1760-1828

Pioneer woman
Arrived in the area in 1800.

Wife of Philemon Wright whose group from Woburn, Massachusetts were the first permanent settlers in the Ottawa / Hull / Gatineau Canada area in 1800.

Historical Firsts for Canadian Women

"We want women leaders today as never before. Leaders who are not afraid to be called names and who are willing to go out and fight. I think women can save civilization. Women are persons."
 - Emily Murphy, 1931

  • The Ursuline Nuns establish a school for girls in Quebec.

  • First hospital in Canada, Hôtel-Dieu in Montreal, is opened by Jeanne Mance.
  • First Francophone female writer born in Canada - Marie Morin
  • First school teacher in Montreal, arrives from France - Marguerite Bourgeoys.

  • 775 French orphan girls and young women are sent to New France under the banner "Filles du roi" to marry settlers.

  • First English woman to come to James Bay, Mrs. (John) Sargeant, wife of the Governor of the Hudson Bay Company, with her companion Mrs. Maurice, and a maidservant.
  • Marguerite d'Youville founds the Grey Nuns order in Montreal.

  •  First Jewish woman to arrive in Canada - Esther Brandeau (in the guise of a cabin boy).
  • First Canadian printing office and Canada's first newspaper, the weekly Halifax Gazette - Elizabeth Bushell (with her father).
  • First recorded female art teacher in Montréal, Quebec - Jeanne Charlotte Allamand.
  • First work of fiction by a native born Canadian to be published in Canada - Julia Catherine Hart.

  • First female professional photographer - Mrs. (John) Fletcher (portrait studio in Montreal). 
  • Women in Ontario got the right to vote for school trustees if they owned property regardless of marital status.

  • Susanna Moodie published Roughing It in the Bush about life as a pioneer in then Upper Canada.

  • First woman publisher in Canada - Mary Shadd Carey
  • First black woman publisher in North America (The Provincial Freeman, 1853 to 1857) - Mary Shadd Carey
  • First university in Canada to admit women — Mount Allison in New Brunswick (did not include the right to study in professional faculties).
  • First woman doctor in Canada - Emily Stowe (her practice was in Toronto but her training was in the States
  • First female doctor to graduate from a Canadian Medical School - Dr. Augusta Stowe-Gullen
  • First woman to teach at a Canadian medical school - Dr. Augusta Stowe-Gullen (she helped found the Toronto Western Hospital with her husband Dr. John B. Gullen)
  • First woman lawyer in Ontario, Canada and the British Empire - Clara Brett Martin
  • Creation of the world's first Women's Institute - Adelaide Hunter (Hoodless) in Stoney Creek, Ontario (she also introduced the teaching of domestic science into Ontario schools)
  • First Canadian woman nuclear physicist — Harriet Brooks (she was also the first woman to obtain a Master's Degree from McGill in 1901)
  • First woman intern at Toronto General Hospital - Dr. Helen MacMurchy (named one of the western world's leading physicians in 1949)
  • First francophone woman to practice medicine in Canada - Irma Levasseur (she co-founded Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montréal)
  • Women admitted to the University of Toronto's Faculty of Medicine for the first time
  • First single woman to be granted homestead rights in Ontario - Dorothea Mitchell (Canada’s first female independent film maker)
  • First woman in the British Empire to become a judge - Emily Murphy
  • Women obtained the right to vote in a federal election
  • First election including female candidates
  • First Canadian woman to be a member of Parliament - Agnes Macphail (also one of the first two women elected to Ontario Legislature)
  • Ada McKenzie founded the Ladies’ Golf Club of Toronto, the first private golf club in North America owned and operated by women
  • First Canadian woman to earn a degree in electrical engineering - Elsie MacGill (University of Toronto)
  • Canadian women are allowed to compete in the Olympic Games for the first time.

  • First woman senator - Cairine Wilson
  • First female CGA in Canada - Ivy A. Cox
  • First woman to be elected a mayor in Canada (in Webbwood, Ontario) - Barbara McCallum Hanley
  • First woman corporate member to the Engineering Institute of Canada - Elsie MacGill
  • First woman to become a colonel in the Canadian Army - Elizabeth Laurie Smellie
  • First woman to be given the title of official war artist (World War II) - Molly Lamb Bobak
  • First "Woman Mountie", the RCMP's first Honourary Surgeon - Dr. Francis McGill
  • First woman to head a provincial party - Thérèse Forget Casgrain (in the province of Québec)
  • First woman federal cabinet minister - Ellen Fairclough
  • First woman appointed ambassador for Canada - Blanche Margaret Meagher (posted in Israel)
  • First Canadian woman to be named Minister of Health and Welfare - Judy LaMarsh (she introduced the Canada Pension Plan and established the Royal Commission on the Status of Women)
  • First women professional golfer in Canada - Sandra Post
  • First woman president of the physical sciences section of the Royal Society of Canada and the first female president of the Royal Canadian Institute - Helen Hogg
  • First woman physician president of the Ontario Medical Association - Dr. Bette Stephenson
  • First solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada of the work of a living Canadian woman - Joyce Wieland
  • First black woman elected to a legislature in Canada (B.C.) - Rosemary Brown
  • First woman candidate for the leadership of a major Canadian political party (NDP) - Rosemary Brown
  • First North American woman airline pilot - Rosella Bjornson
  • First woman president of the Canadian Medical Association - Dr. Bette Stephenson
  • First female Lieutenant-Governor in the British Commonwealth - Pauline McGibbon (of Ontario)
  • The RCMP begins to accept women in their ranks.
  • First woman to lead a major national union in Canada - Grace Hartman (CUPE)
  • First president of the Fédération des francophones hors Québec founded in 1975 (which later became the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA) in June 1991) - Jeannine Séguin
  • Troop 17 was the first group of 32 females accepted into the RCMP. This first all-female troop graduated from Depot on March 3, 1975.
  • Carolyn Bowes became the first woman to run across Canada. It took 133 days to cover the 3,840 miles from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Burnaby, British Columbia.
  • First woman Speaker of the House of Commons – Jeanne Sauvé
  • First woman minister responsible for the Status of Women in Parliament - Judy Erola
  • First woman on the Supreme Court - Bertha Wilson
  • First Canadian woman officially recognized as a saint (canonized) - Marguerite Bourgeoys (founder of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame de Montréal)
  • First woman Governor General - Jeanne Sauvé
  • First black person ever appointed to the Canadian Senate - Anne Cools
  • First televised debate on women's issues between the three major federal parties - organized by National Action Committee on the Status of Women
  • First North American woman to scale Mount Everest - Sharon Wood of Canmore, Alberta
  • First woman president of the Canadian Labour Congress - Shirley Carr
  • First francophone woman appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada - Claire L'Heureux-Dubé
  • First woman federal party leader - Audrey McLaughlin
  • First female pilots in the world to sucessfully complete and qualify to fly the CF18 Jet Fighter Aircraft - Deanna Brasseur and Jane Foster
  • First woman deputy Speaker of the House of Commons - Andrée Champagne
  • First Women's World Hockey Championships won by Canada
  • First Military female aircraft accident investigator - Deanna Brasseur
  • First woman Premier of a province - Rita Johnston (B.C.)
  • First Canadian Woman in Space - Roberta Bondar (second Canadian astronaut to go into space)
  • First female President of the Canadian Bar Association - Paule Gauthier, Quebec City lawyer
  • October is proclaimed Women's History Month in Canada by the Government of Canada. 
  • First woman Prime Minister - Kim Campbell
  • First woman to be named Leader of the Government in the Senate - Joyce Fairbairn
  • First black woman elected to the House of Commons - Jean Augustine
  • First woman deputy prime minister - Sheila Copps
  • First woman Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada - Beverley McLachlin
  • First female Premier of a territory (Yukon) - Pat Duncan
  • First woman appointed Auditor General of Canada - Sheila Fraser
  • First Canadian to win five medals at a single Olympic Winter Games - Cindy Klasssen.
  • First woman appointed Commander of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police - Bev Busson.
  • First female to occupy top anchor spot (chef d’antenne) at the Télévision de Radio-Canada, Céline Galipeau, Le Téléjournal.

  • First Canadian Member of Parliament for the Green Party - Elizabeth May.
  • First woman in Canada appointed as Chief of Reserves and Cadets - Rear Admiral Jennifer Bennett.
  • First full-time female anchor in one of the three major English-language national newscasts - Lisa LaFlamme, CTV National News. 
  • First female doctor to receive the Patient's Choice Award, given in June 2012 by the Patient's Association of Canada and the Ontario Medical Association - Dr. Evelyn Honsl who practices in Ottawa

Claire Martin

Writer, translator

Born in 1914 in Québec City; lived in Ottawa from 1945 to 1972.

Lived in Ottawa from 1945 to 1972; was a writer in residence at the University of Ottawa.

In 1984, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Companion in 2001.

Won the 1966 Governor General's Awards for Literary Merit in French for her book, La joue droite.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Florence Castonguay

Actress, artistic director

1897-1992; born in Ottawa.

Important figure of franco-ontarian theatre, actress and founder/artistic director at Le Caveau.

PLayed her first important role in 1929 (one of Sainte-Thérèse de Lisieux's sisters).

Worked with Laurette Larocque-Auger, alias Jean Despréz in Hull; won a governor general award for best francophone actress for her role in L'Innocente, directed by Larocque-Auger in 1935.

Played her last role after the Second World World at age 50; she played a young 18 year old Maria Chapdeleine, and triumphed.

Founded La Comédie nouvelle in 1948 and committed herself full-time to artistic direction and teaching in Ottawa.

A 6-hour documentary film on her life was made by André Fortier - 30 ans de théâtre parisien à Ottawa; Florence Castonguay, comédienne et directrice de théâtre.

Ottawa Women’s Credit Union

Financial institution based on the philosophy of women helping women 

Founded in Ottawa in 1980 by Lynne Markell, then of the Social Planning Council, and Aline Akeson and Dorothy O’Connell, then of the Ottawa Tenant’s Council.

First financial institution to lend to women in their own names; it is the only financial institution in Canada founded by women for women and their families.

Has 1,200 members; each member is an owner in the credit union, and must buy shares to join.

Provides loans, financial information and counselling designed to encourage financial independence of women living in the Capital.

Lily Schreyer, wife of then Governor General Ed Schreyer, became the honorary first member at the opening ceremonies in September 1980.

Linda Bouchard

Musician, composer

Worked in Ottawa, 1992-1995.

"There have been few women in powerful positions but we're at a time when women are being given a position of power. The milieu of new music is much more open." - Linda Bouchard

Born in 1957 in Val d'or, Quebec; lives in San Francisco.

Invited by musical director Trevor Pinnock to become the first composer in residence for the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, 1992-1995.

Introduced a number of programs to encourage public involvement at the NAC and made great strides in bringing contemporary classical music to a wider audience.

In 1998, released CD Exquisite Fires: Music of Linda Bouchard, featuring the NAC Orchestra (selection of work commissioned during her tenure in Ottawa).

More than 50 of her compositions, ranging from pieces for orchestras and chamber groups to dance scores, concerts and vocal works, have been recorded on both sides of the Atlantic.

Nominated for a 1999 Juno Award in the Best Classical Compositions category for her NAC Orchestra-commissioned Songs for an Acrobat.

Honoured as Composer of the Year by the Conseil québécois de la musique at its 1998 Prix Opus gala.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Barbara Clark

Choral conductor, teacher, singer

Lives and works in Ottawa.

Born in Napanee in 1937.

Alto soloist at Knox Presbyterian Church (1959-82), and chorister for both the Cantata Singers (1965-92) and the National Arts Centre Opera Chorus (1973-85).

Has dedicated herself to improving music programs for youth in Ottawa and Canada.

Became a music consultant with the Ottawa Board of Education in 1965 until her retirement in 1990.

Conducted the Central Children's Choir of Ottawa and the Ottawa Regional Youth Choir which she founded in 1982; has been directing choirs of Ottawa youth for over 40 years.

Served as artistic director of Unisong, a festival of choirs from each province and territory in Canada which celebrates Canadian music, sung by Canadians on Canada Day in the national capital.

Member of the National Arts Centre Orchestra Association as Youth Liaison.

Received the Order of Canada in 2001.

Winner of the 2006 A.D. Dunton Alumni Award of Distinction, Carleton University’s highest alumni honour. Carleton also awarded her the degree Doctor of Laws, honoris causa in 2006.

Federation of Medical Women of Canada

Founded in Ottawa in 1924.

National organization committed to the professional, social and personal advancement of women physicians and to the promotion of the well-being of women both in the medical profession and in society at large.

Composed of practising physicians and medical students and affiliated with the Canadian Medical Association since 1964.

Their major scholarship fund is named for Dr. Maude Abbott, a founding member.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Canadian Women's Movement Archives

Unique collection on the women's movement

Housed at the University of Ottawa since 1992 (Archives and Special Collections of the Morisset Library, University of Ottawa).

The Canadian Women's Movement Archives documents primarily the contemporary (post-1960) Canadian women's movement.

The CWMA is supporting the University of Ottawa Institute of Women's Studies activities. It can be consulted by the members of the university community and the general public.

The Canadian Women's Movement Archives were founded in 1977 by an independent feminist collective in Toronto to preserve the records of the contemporary Canadian women's movement.

Helen Paget


Represented the Royal Ottawa Golf Club at the inaugural match of the Ladies’ Golf Club of Toronto on August 23, 1926 against Ada Mackenzie, founder of the Ladies’ Golf Club.

In the early 20th century, it wasn’t easy for female golfers to get access to tee times and practice facilities. Ada Mackenzie was a talented young golfer from Toronto who found a solution: she created a women’s golf club!

The Ladies’s Golf Club of Toronto is North America’s only remaining private golf club established by women for women.

As for the Royal Ottawa Golf Club, it is one of the oldest golf clubs outside of Britain; it was founded in the spring of 1891.

Friday, November 14, 2008

May Court Club of Ottawa (and of Canada)

“It is the power of women everywhere to make society what they will”. —Lady Aberdeen, 1898

Founded in Ottawa.

The May Court Club of Ottawa is the oldest women's service organization in Canada, indeed Canada's very first women's service club.

Created on May 1st, 1898 by Lady Aberdeen, wife of the Governor General of Canada.

In 1934, the Affiliation of May Court Clubs was established with clubs in Ottawa, London and Windsor.

In 1965, the Affiliation became the Association of May Court Clubs of Canada. May Court Clubs are now established in nine Ontario cities.

For 110 years, the May Court Club of Ottawa has continually provided vital volunteer and financial assistance to the Ottawa-Carleton community.

Over the years, the Club has evolved from a group of women "with leisure opportunities" to a multi-faceted volunteer organization. It includes both professional women as well as those whose careers are in the home.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Linda Jackson

Olympian, cyclist

Born in 1958 in Nepean (Ottawa), Ontario.

Known as one of the Canada's best female cyclists - 1996 Olympian, third in 1996 World Championships, third in 1997 women's Tour de France and captured a silver medal in the 1994 and 1998 Commonwealth Games.

At age 40, Jackson entered the HP LaserJet Women’s Challenge in 1999; one of the oldest participants in the 150-person field and one of the favorites.

Inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Landon Pearson

Senator, Children’s Activist
Landon Pearson Centre for the Study of Childhood and Children’s Rights, Carleton University

Studied in Ottawa; donated a collection to Carleton University in Ottawa.

Co-founded Children Learning for Living, a prevention program in children's mental health in 1974.

Earned her M.Ed. in Psychopedagogy from the University of Ottawa.

Vice Chair of the Canadian Commission for the International Year of the Child in 1979.

President and Chair of the Canadian Council on Children and Youth from 1984 to 1990.

Appointed to the Canadian Senate in 1994; was instrumental in shaping Canada's foreign policy on child labor, sexual exploitation of children, and war-affected children.

Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 as part of the 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize project.

Donated her collection of books, papers and reports on childhood and children’s rights to Carleton University in Ottawa.

The Landon Pearson Centre for the Study of Childhood and Children’s Rights at Carleton University was launched on International Children’s Day, June 2, 2006.

Received an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa in 2002 and an honorary doctorate from Carleton University in 2003.

Dianne Croteau

Designer, inventor

Studied in Ottawa. Earned her bachelor's degree in Industrial Design from Carleton University, Ottawa.

Born in Sudbury, Ontario.

Her design experience spans several disciplines and sectors: healthcare, emergency rescue, education, furniture, architecture, community gardens, renewable energy and human powered transportation.

Her projects and products have received several patents and awards. One of her designs is the Actar 911.

Actar 911 is a simple training tool that has helped millions of people learn the steps of CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation). Described as a 'masterpiece of simplicity' the manikin has only 5 components yet it provides all the necessary features to learn the basic steps of rescue breathing and chest compressions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Canadian Women in the Military

Here is a look back across more than 100 years to appreciate women making their mark on Canadian military history. For a more definitive list of the achievements or accomplishments of women throughout Canadian military history, visit

Women serve as nurses for the first time in Canadian military history during the Northwest Rebellion.

During the South African War, women become a permanent part of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps.

Female nurses are admitted to Canada's Regular Forces.

More than 2800 women serve with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps during the First World War. The First World War also sees the first organization of women in a military capacity other than nursing.

About 5000 female nurses serve in the Navy, Army, and Air Force Medical Corps during the Second World War. Women serve overseas but are not permitted to serve in warships, combat aircraft or combat arms units.

The Canadian government decides to enrol more than 45 000 women for full-time military service other than nursing — from clerks, cooks, drivers and telephone operators to mechanics, parachute riggers, and heavy mobile equipment drivers.

When Canada is called upon to participate in the Korean War, women are once again recruited for service. By 1955, more than 5000 are enroled.

The government of Canada decides to continue to employ women in the Canadian armed forces. A ceiling of 1500, to include women in all three services, is established (about 1.5% of the total force of the day).

The Royal Commission on the Status of Women recommends changes necessary to provide a climate of equal opportunity for women in Canada.

Medical doctor Major Wendy Clay qualifies for her pilot's wings six years before the pilot classification is opened to all women.

Corporal Gail Toupin is the first female member of the SkyHawks, the Army's skydiving demonstration team.

Military colleges open their doors to women.

Second-Lieutenant Inge Plug is the first female CF helicopter pilot, and Lieutenant Karen McCrimmon is the Forces' first female air navigator.

N.B. Between 1981 and today, women in the military have accomplished an impressive list of “female firsts”. See

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is signed. It prohibits discrimination based on race, national/ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age and mental/physical disability.

All areas of Air Force employment, including fighter pilot, are opened to women.

Following a discrimination complaint, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal orders key changes.

The Minister of National Defence establishes the Ministers Advisory Board on Women in the Canadian Forces.

HMCS Nipigon is the first Canadian warship crewed by men and women to participate in exercises with NATO's Standing Naval Force Atlantic.

The Chief of the Maritime Staff announces that women may serve in submarines.

The year 2000 marked the 115th anniversary of women in Canada's military.

Capt Maryse Carmichael is the first female Snowbird pilot.

Barbara Dundas


Lives and works in Ottawa.

Published a book in 2000 entitled A History of Women in the Canadian Military.

"This book illustrates the enormous contribution that women in uniform have made. With over a century of distinguished service, these women have played an integral role in the successful development of Canada's military"; the Honourable Art Eggleton, Minister of National Defence, 2001

Barbara Dundas resides in Ottawa and is employed as a corporate web-master at Transport Canada.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lillian Freiman

Philanthropist, civic leader

Born in Mattawa, Ontario. Lived in Ottawa.

First Canadian Jewish person to receive the Order of the British Empire in 1934 for her volunteer work, especially in support of immigration and immigrants.

Wife of Archibald J. Freiman who founded Freiman's, a major department store in Ottawa, Canada.

Raised funds for Jews in Europe and Palestine, led Ottawa's efforts to battle the influenza epidemic in 1918, served as treasurer of the Ottawa Welfare Bureau, and was active in such organizations as the Ottawa Women's Canadian Club, the Institut Jeanne d'Arc for Catholic girls, and the Protestant Infants Home.

Because of her work with war veterans, she was granted honorary life membership in the Canadian Legion veterans' organization, the first woman to be so honored.

Joyce Fairbairn


Studied and worked in Ottawa.

Born and raised in Lethbridge, Alberta.

Received a Bachelor of Journalism degree from Carleton University (Ottawa) in 1961.

Joined the news staff of the Ottawa Journal in 1961.

In 1962, joined the bureau of United Press International in the Parliamentary Press Gallery in Ottawa; reported for many papers including the Ottawa Journal.

In 1970, became Legislative Assistant to Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and served as his senior legislative advisor for fourteen years.

Appointed to the Senate for the Province of Alberta (Lethbridge) in 1984.

Inducted into the Kainai Chieftainship of the Blood Nation and given the name Morning Bird Woman in 1990.

Appointed to the Privy Council in 1993 and was the first woman to be named Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Shirley Westeinde

Ottawa-based developer and general contractor

"I hope to provide an example that women can get ahead in
this industry. I'm hoping that I can make women aware that the
trades and the construction industry in general are no longer
only the domain of men. As it stands, women who represent 50% of the general population only represent 2.5 -2.8% of construction trades workers.” Shirley Westeinde

Chair of the Westeinde Group; first female Chair of the Canadian Construction Association in 86 years.

Involved in the construction business since 1978.

Chair and member of many Boards in the Ottawa community including the Building Owners and Manager's Association, the Ottawa Economic Development Corporation, the Ottawa Airport Authority and the Board of Governors at Algonquin College.

Also chairs "Success by Six", a program to provide physical and mental nurturing to children entering school and is a member of the Leadership Table on Homelessness.

Received several business awards including the Women's Business
Achievement Award and Community awards, including the Bnai Brith Canada Award of Merit, the Women of Distinction Award and the Queen's Jubilee Medal.

Received the CCA Community Leader Award in 2007.

Margaret Graham

Pioneer journalist

Lived and worked in Ottawa.

One of the founding members of the Canadian Women's Press Club in 1904 (now called Media Club of Canada).

Married Albert Horton in 1905, a well-known editor of Hansard; lived in Ottawa until her death in 1924.

The Margaret Graham Award was formally established in 1977 to be given to top journalism students at Carleton University and Algonquin College.

In 1992, the award was expanded to include a top student from the University of Ottawa’s Communications Department.

Madeleine Meilleur

MPP for Ottawa-Vanier

Elected to the Ontario legislature in 2003 and re-elected in 2007.

Serves as Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs since 2003; introduced amendments to the French Language Services Act, which established the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner.

Oversaw the passing of the Ontario Heritage Act as Minister of Culture (2003-2006).

Minister of Community and Social Services and Minister Responsible for Ontarians with Disabilities (2006-2007).

Registered nurse and lawyer specializing in labour and employment law.

Led efforts to keep the Montfort Hospital open and has helped the Ottawa-Carleton Children's Aid Society, the Vanier Housing Corporation, the Cité Collégiale and the Maison de l'amitié, a facility assisting female victims of violence.

Recipient of several awards, including the United Way's 2001 Community Builder Award and, in 2002, the Prix d'Excellence given by the Réseau socio-action des femmes francophones.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Lise Bourgeois

Education and Secretary-Treasurer of the Conseil des écoles catholiques de langue française du Centre-Est (CECLFCE) in Ottawa

Lives and works in Ottawa.

Named Leader of the year in the parapublic sector category by the Regroupement des gens d’affaires d’Ottawa in 2006.

Under her leadership, Catholic schools under her jurisdiction achieved the best results on Ontario provincial tests; with close to 17,000 students, the CECLFCE is the largest network of French-language Catholic schools in Canada.

She is the President of La Citécollégiale since 2010.

Jocelyne Constant

Volunteer community worker and youth advocate

Lives and works in Ottawa.

Born, raised and educated in Haiti.

Member of the Community Police Action Committee (COMPAC), Communauté Catholique des Haitiens de l’Outaouais and the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization.

Helps immigrants in their dealings with the police.

Nominated in 2005 as one of the Ottawa YMCA’s Women of Distinction for her community work.

2008 recipient of the Dreamkeepers. Community Citation for Outstanding Leadership.

Past president and francophone vice-president of the Ottawa Foster Parents’ Association.

Serves on the boards of the Ottawa Children’s Aid Society (CAS); the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO) and is a member of numerous committees.

Before becoming a full time volunteer, worked for the federal government.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Elaine Keillor

Pianist, distinguished research professor

Lives and works in Ottawa.

Born in 1939 in London, Ontario.

Holds the record as the youngest recipient of the Associate (ARCT) degree from the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto) with all of the theory exams completed at the age of ten.

First woman to receive a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Toronto.

Professor since 1977 at Carleton University, Ottawa, lecturing on Baroque, Classical periods, Canadian musics, ethnomusicology, keyboard performance and literature.

Inaugural recipient of the Canadian Women’s Mentor Award in the “Arts and Culture” category in 1999.

2004 Helmut Kallmann Award recipient for Distinguished Service relating to music libraries and archives, for outstanding contributions in documenting and improving access to resources in Canadian music.

Praised for her “impeccable pianism” and “musicality.”

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Marie-P. Poulin


Studied and worked in Ottawa.

Born in 1945 in Sudbury, Ontario.

Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from University of Ottawa in 2007.

President, Liberal Party of Canada from December 2006 to April 2008.

Called to the Senate of Canada in September 1995; first woman to chair the Senate Liberal Caucus, and the first senator to chair the Northern Ontario Liberal Caucus.

Received the "Prix Marcel Blouin" for the best radio morning program in Canada in 1983, the "Médaille du Conseil de la vie française" in 1988, the "Ordre de la Pléaide" in 1995, an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Laurentian University in 1995, the insignia of "Officier de l'Ordre national de la Légion d'Honneur de la France" in 2003 and the insignia of the Order of St. John in 2004.

Was a member of the Implementation Committee for Bill 8 in Ontario and a founding director of "La Cité collégiale" (the first French-language College of Applied Arts and Technology in Ontario) and the "Regroupement des gens d'affaires francophones" in Ottawa.

Was the first woman to chair the Regroupement des gens d'affaires francophones.

Myrtha Lapierre

Nurse, educator, advocate

Lives in Ottawa since 1956.

Moved to Canada from Haiti, to study nursing.

Became a health care advocate, a nursing professor and a mentor to generations of immigrants.

Promoter of ethnocultural relations, as well as Haitian arts and culture.

Received the YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Award in 2006.

October 25 has been declared Myrtha Lapierre Day in Ottawa by the City Council in 2006, an honour usually bestowed to institutions and organizations.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Elizabeth Smart

Novelist, poet

1913-1986; born in Ottawa.

Worked briefly for the Ottawa Journal writing society news.

Worked at the British Embassy in Washington during WWII and moved to England in 1943.

First work, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept (1945), immediately established a cult following; it has been critically hailed as a masterpiece of poetic prose.

Published two new works (1977) 32 years later.

Returned to Canada in 1982-83 as the writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta in Edmonton for one year.

Denise Robert


Born in Rivière-Pentecôte, Québec. Raised in Ottawa.

Leading figure in Québec’s highly successful film industry.

Co-founder of Cinémaginaire, a feature film production company that has produced such blockbuster hits as Les invasions barbares, Mambo Italiano, C’t’a ton tour Laura Cadieux and Le Confessionnal.

Received an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa in 2005.

Marion Dewar

Mayor of Ottawa, Advocate for justice, peace, inclusiveness and quality public services

1928-2008; lived and worked in Ottawa.

Born in Montreal.

Mayor of Ottawa from 1978 to 1985. Second woman to hold this position in Ottawa (first was Charlotte Whitton).

Among the policy areas she emphasized were improved public access to municipal decision-making, low-cost housing and child care.

Became the president of the New Democratic Party in 1985 and a member of the Parliament of Canada from 1986 to 1988.

Co-hosted the Women's Constitutional Conference calling for gender equality provisions in the Canadian Charter of Rights.

Was the Executive Director of the Canadian Council on Children and Youth from 1989 to 1992 and the National Chair of Oxfam Canada from 1994 to 1999.

Awarded a degree in Health Sciences by University of Ottawa and an LL.D. in Public Administration by Carleton University for her outstanding contributions.

Received the Order of Canada in 2002.

In 2004, Canadian women historians established the Marion Dewar Prize in Canadian Women's History in her honour.

Noni MacDonald

Advocate for children and youth health
Leader in paediatric infectious disease

Worked in Ottawa.

Named Dean of Medicine at Dalhousie University in Halifax in July 1999, the first woman to become Dean of Medicine in Canada.

Worked for 18 years at the University of Ottawa, the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and the Ottawa General as a professor, clinician and researcher in pediatrics and infectious diseases.

In 1981, she founded the Infectious Disease Division at the University of Ottawa and lead the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Service at CHEO.

Published over 150 papers, served on the editorial boards of several major pediatric publications, and been very active in academic and professional societies and organizations as well as federal government committees and task forces.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Dorothy O'Connell


Anti-poverty activist since the 1960s.

Helped establish Ottawa’s first women’s credit union and first legal aid clinic.

Co-founder of the Ottawa Tenants Council and the Ottawa Council for Low Income Support Services.

The Dorothy O'Connell Monument to Anti-Poverty Activism is located at City Hall; local artist c.j. fleury, best known for The Women's Monument Against Violence, was commissioned to design the monument.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Tyseer Aboulnasr

Professor, Dean of Engineering, University of Ottawa, 1998-2004

"[…] knowledge gives you a tremendous amount of power and with power comes great responsibility". - Tyseer Aboulnasr

Joined the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Ottawa in 1987 as Assistant Professor and became Full Professor in 1997; served as Associate Dean from 1996–1998 and as Dean from 1998–2004.

First woman to chair the Council of Ontario Deans of Engineering, 2001-2002.

Recipient of the Ottawa-Carleton YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in 1999.

Named one of the top 100 influential people in Ottawa in 2001.

Fellow of the Humanitarian Institute of Canada in 2001.

Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and Engineering Institute of Canada.

In 2005, named to the prestigious Order of Ontario.