Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mayors of Ottawa

48th mayor of Ottawa, first in 1951-1956, then again in 1961-1964
First woman mayor of Ottawa 
First woman mayor of any large city in Canada
Social worker, politician, feminist

"Whatever women must do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult." - Charlotte Whitton

Born in Renfrew; moved to Ottawa in 1922.

Relentless crusader for professional standards of juvenile immigrants and neglected children in the 1920s.

Founder of the Canadian Council on Child Welfare (now the Canadian Council on Social Development).

Lectured across North America on social programs.

Entered Ottawa City politics in 1950. When the elected mayor died the next year she succeeded him (1951). Elected mayor of Ottawa in 1952, 1954, 1960 and 1961 and served as an alderman until 1972.

Historical note on the first woman mayor in Canada: Barbara McCallum Hanley, born in Magnetawan, Ontario was the first woman to be elected mayor in Canada. She was elected mayor of Webbwood, (west of Sudbury) on January 6, 1936 and served the community as mayor for eight years. Charlotte Whitton was the first mayor of a large city in Canada.


2. MARION DEWAR, 1928-2008
52nd mayor of Ottawa from 1978-1985
Advocate for justice, peace, inclusiveness and quality public services

Born in Montreal.

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.



55th Mayor of Ottawa from 1991 to 1997

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.


NOTE: Since its foundation as Ottawa in 1855, the city has had 3 women mayors. However, when the city of Ottawa amalgamated in 2001, there were 4 women mayors in different municipalities. They were:

  • Claudette Cain in Gloucester
  • Merle Nicholds in Kanata
  • Mary Pitt in Nepean
  • Janet Stavinga in Goulbourn

During the Bytown years, from 1847 to 1854, the city had 8 mayors, none of them were women.

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