Born in South Africa in 1907; died in Ottawa in 1998.
Awarded two honorary doctorates, one from the University of Toronto, the other from the University of Ottawa.
Named to the Order of Canada in 1992 for her contributions to Canadian intellectual and public life, and to the women’s movement.
Joined the Department of Political Economy at the University of Toronto in 1929 where she taught Canadian economic history.
Served actively on the Wartime Prices and Trade Board and its later affiliate, the Commodity Prices Stabilization Corporation, in Ottawa and, during the early postwar years, went to England and co-founded Saskatchewan House with her husband, broadcast reformer Graham Spry, who was Agent-General for Saskatchewan in London from 1946 to 1967.
Spry's work in the women's movement blossomed during her time in London. She represented the Federated Women's Institutes of Canada at the Associated Country Women of the World.
Taught at the University of Ottawa from 1968 until 1995, well after her official retirement in 1973.
Partial list of publications:
- Spry, Irene M. (1963) The Palliser Expedition: The Dramatic Story of Western Canadian Exploration, 1857-1860. Toronto: MacMillan. Republished Toronto: Fifth House Publishers, 1995.
- Spry, Irene M., ed. (1968) The Papers of the Palliser Expedition, 1857-1860. Toronto: Champlain Society Press.
- Crabbé, Philippe, and Irene M. Spry, eds. (1973) Natural Resource Development in Canada. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.
- Spry, Irene M., and Bennett McCardle. (1993) The Records of the Department of the Interior and Research Concerning Canada's Western Frontier of Settlement. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center.