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(Doctors, Nurses, Dentists
Baptised Langres, France November 12, 1606 Died
June 18, 1673.
As a young reader she had enjoyed reading the Jesuit Relations,
published reports of priests in the new world and thus she became
interested in foreign missions, Jeanne joined the Société Notre-Dame de
Montréal. She sailed as the
1st lay nurse
New France May 9, 1641 and founded first hospital in
New France in 1642. The,
Hotel-Dieu Hospital of Montreal was completed by 1645. She would return to
France twice, in 1645 and 1657 to attain additional financial support for
her work in Montreal. Canada Post issued a commemorative stamp in her
honour in 1973. She has been declared a National Historic Person of Canada
Historic Sites and Monument Board.
(née Bulkeley [?]) Born England 1795. Died 1865. In the day when medicine
only accepted men as students one woman disguised herself as a men and
entered the Edinburgh
in 1809. As a doctor in the British army she served in the far corners of
the British Empire and gained a reputation as an outstanding surgeon. In
157 Dr. Barry was posted to Canada where he was well respected for his
fight to provide cleaner hospital facilities and better food for the
working soldiers. An odd small “man” with little or no facial hair Dr.
Barry was considered an eccentric. It would not be until death, when the
body was being prepared for burial that it would be discovered that the
renowned doctor was indeed a woman! It must have cause a stir in the
Victorian society to have had the 1st
“woman” doctor in the British Army!!!
(née Jennings). Born Norwich, Upper Canada (Ontario) May 1, 1831. Died
April 30,1903. She taught school when she was quite young. It was
not until 1854 that she had attended and graduated from Normal School.
That same year she was appointed Principal at Brantford Public School.
This was the 1st appointment of a woman to such a position in Canada!
However Emily really only wanted to save money from her teaching so that
she could afford to attend medical school. With no Canadian
institution allowing women to study medicine she studied in the United
States and in 1868 became
the 1 Canadian woman
to practice medicine in
a life long champion of women’s rights. It was she who organized the Women’s
in Toronto in 1883. She was also founder and first president of the
Dominion Women’s Enfranchisement Association in 1889.
Sources Encyclopedia Canadiana Online (Accessed 2000) : The
Indomitable Women Doctors by Carlotta Hacker, (Toronto:
Clarke, Irwin, 1974)
Born 1843,Darlington, England Died February 16, 1916 Winnipeg,
Manitoba. . She immigrated to Canada with her family when she was five
Charlotte received her schooling in Clinton, Ontario, and went to
finishing school at the Sacred Heart Convent in Montreal. At eighteen,
she married David Ross, her father's associate in the railway
construction business. In 1870 women were not allowed entry into
Canadian medical schools. She enrolled in an U.S. medical school, the
Women’s Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with her husband's
encouragement. She was forced to take 2 absences because of a
miscarriage and the birth of a daughter.
graduated in 1875 and set up a successful practice in Montreal, Quebec,
the first woman doctor in the city. In 1878 left Montreal to
join her husband and father who were building the Canadian Pacific
Railway, in Whitemouth, Manitoba Charlotte was the 1st woman to
practice medicine in that province.
many stories attesting to the fact that after delivering a baby, she
would scrub the floor, do the washing, and cook enough food for several
days so that the new mother would get a couple of days' rest. She was
also known to bring new mothers a bouquet of white roses that she grew
in her garden. She was strict about antiseptic methods and sterilization
which meant she was far ahead of some of her contemporaries in her
practice of medicine. Dr. Ross practiced medicine for twenty-seven years
without a license. She applied for licenses in both Montreal and
Winnipeg, but she was denied because she refused to go to medical school
in Canada and pass the exam by the all-male admissions board of the
Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons. She continued to practice
medicine, despite the fact that she knew she could be prosecuted and
jailed. She avoided prosecution in Montreal because she worked under the
patronage of Dr. Hingston, her original mentor, who later became the
mayor of Montreal. She avoided prosecution in Manitoba because her
practice was rural and she was the only physician in Whitemouth. The
Charlotte W. Ross Gold Medal for highest honours in obstetrics is given
annually in the Manitoba Medical College. Dr. Ross finally did get her
license posthumously in November 1993 when Liberal MLA Sharon Carstairs
introduced a resolution to that effect in the Manitoba Legislature.
Government of Manitoba. Status of Women. Women working for Healthy
Communities by Ada Ducas et all October 2001. Online (Accessed December
(née Gowanlock) Born Kelso, Scotland April 21, 1841. Died November 10,1921.
The beginning of her work career was spent as a teacher in Stratford,
Ontario but after becoming acquainted with Dr. Emily Stowe (1831-1903)
her career took a different turn. After her marriage to Edward Trout in 1865 Jenny decided to become a medical
doctor. Since no Canadian medical school accepted women Jennie studied
in the United States. March 11, 1875, on passing the Ontario registration exam
she became the 1st Canadian woman
licensed to practice medicine in
From 1875 to 1882 Jennie operated the Therapeutic & Electrical
Institute with her friend Dr. Amelia Tefft who had trained in
Philadelphia with her. She also ran a free dispensary in Toronto with
branches in both Hamilton and Brantford, Ontario. Jennie was
rather shy and did not like publicity but this did not deter her when
she served as Vice-President of the Advancement of Women and as
President of the Women's Temperance Union. She also wanted to allow
women to learn medicine in Canada and when Toronto originally refused to
accept the idea of having women on staff or on the Board of a Women's
Medical college , Jenny simply took her plan to Queen's University in
Kingston, Ontario where a Women's Medical College was established with
women both on staff and on the Board of Directors. The College became
amalgamated with the Toronto Women's Medical College some yeas later.
Sources Encyclopedia Canadiana Online (Accessed 2000) : The
Indomitable Women Doctors by Carlotta Hacker, (Toronto:
Clarke, Irwin, 1974)
Lenora King. (née Howard.)
Born Farmersville (Athens), Upper Canada (Ontario). In order to
study medicine she had to leave Canada to study at the University of
Michigan Women's Medical College. With the support of the Women's Foreign
Missionary Society she sailed to Shanghai in 1877,
the 1st Canadian doctor to practice medicine in China. She
was 60 years ahead of Dr. Norman Bethune. Dr King obtained the patronage
of Lady Li, wife of the viceroy of Chilhli province in Tientsin. It was
after she had attended Lady Li that she opened the first Chinese hospital
for women and children. In 1884 she married a widowed Scottish missionary,
the Reverend Alexander King. As a married woman she was expected to
support the work of her husband, not work on her own. Lady Li opened a new
hospital for Dr King in 1885, a hospital totally funded by the Chinese. In
1889 the Government of China recognized the
distinguished doctor with the Imperial Chinese Order of the Double Dragon
making her a Mandarin which is a similar to being a knight in
England. In 1909 she organized the Government Medical School for Women so
that Chinese doctors and nurses could be trained. She is a member of
the Canadian Medicine Hall of Fame.
(née Stowe) Born July 27, 1857, Mount Pleasant, Toronto) Canada West (Now
Ontario) . Died September 25, 1943, Toronto, Ontario. Augusta’s mother and
mentor was Dr. Emily Stowe(1831-1903). Augusta was the 1st woman
to earn a medical degree in Canada. She graduated from Victoria College, (an
affiliate of the University of Toronto) Cobourg, Ontario in
1883 the 1st woman in Canada to earn a
Canadian medical degree. Upon graduation she married Dr. John B.
Gullen, a future founder in 1896 of Toronto Western Hospital. After their
marriage the couple did post graduate coursed in children’s medicine in New
York, U.S.A. Augusta taught at the Ontario Medical College for Women (known
1883-94 as the Woman's Medical College, Toronto) and was on U of T Senate
Both she and her
mother were leading figures in the suffrage movement. Augusta succeeded her
mother as president of the Dominion Women's Enfranchisement Assn in 1903.
She was also a founder of the National Council of women. In 1935 she
received the Order of the British Empire.
Sources: Carla Hacker. The Indomitable Women Doctors. (1974) ; K.
Smith. Dr. Augusta Stowe-Gullen; a pioneer of social conscience in The
Canadian Medical Association Journal, January 15, 1982 ; The Canadian
Encyclopedia. Online (Accessed June 2003)
Maria Louisa Angwin
Born September 21, 1849 Blackhead, Conception Bay, Newfoundland. Died
April 25, 1898 Ashland, Massachusetts, U.S.A. She relocated with her
family to Nova Scotia in the 1850’s. Maria attended the Mount Allison
Wesleyan Academy, Sackville, Nova Scotia graduating in 1869. Unable to
afford to go to medical school for women in the U.S.A. , Maria attended
Normal School in Truro, Nova Scotia and taught in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
to raise funds needed for medical school. In June 1882 she graduated
from the Women’s Medical College of the New York Infirmary for Women and
Children. She interned at the New England Hospital for Women and
Children in Boston, Massachusetts after which she went to England to
attend clinics and lectures at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
On September 20, 1884 she became the 1st
woman licensed to practice medicine in Nova Scotia. She would
become known not only for her strong beliefs on education for women but
also for her short hair. She was a member of the Woman’s Christian
Temperance Union and supported female suffrage. By 1897 she had poor
health and returned to the New York infirmary for post-graduate work
where she died following surgery.
Sources: Carlotta Hacker, The Indomitable Lady Doctors
Born 1858, Sheffield, England. Died Alexander, Manitoba on June 22,
1943. She immigrated to Canada with her family in June 1883, settling at
Winnipeg. In 1889, she was one of the first
three graduates of the nurse training program at the Winnipeg General
Hospital, established in 1887. Upon graduation, she left to
work at a small hospital in North Dakota where she remained a few
months. In 1890 she accepted a position as assistant nurse at a new
hospital in Medicine Hat, North West Territories [now Alberta], staying
there two years until a hospital opened at Brandon. She took the
position of senior nurse and remained there a year and a half. Moving to
Calgary in 1894 she was in charge of the new hospital being built there,
the first Matron of the Calgary General Hospital. She attended British
celebrations of the 1887 60th anniversary of the reign of Queen
Victoria, returning to Manitoba the next year to become Matron of the
Brandon General Hospital, where she stayed until her retirement in
August 1919. In 1935, she received the
Order of the
Manitobans. Profile by Gordon Goldsborough Online (Accessed December
Smith) Born October 26, 1841, Blissville, New Brunswick. Died July 4,
1916. After here early schooling Elizabeth earned her teaching
Certificate at Normal School. After teaching for awhile she met and in
1869 married John Secord (Died 1874). The couple had one son in 1872.
Elizabeth attended medical school in Keeokuk, Michigan and spent her
internship at the Women’s Medical College in Chicago in 1882. Returning
home she registered in June 1883 as the 1st
woman doctor in New Brunswick before leaving for Dublin and
London, England for post graduate studies. At first she opened a
practice in Frederick, New Brunswick but moved on to Norton and finally
settled in Farmerston (now Jacksonville) for her 33 years of practicing
medicine. In 1908 at the age of 67 she took in 2 British Home Children,
Herbert Morris and Elsie May Morris. The children were sent to Canada by
caring organizations in England. Elizabeth signed a contract to care for
and educate the children.
Sources: The Indomitable Women Doctors by Carlotta Hacker,
(Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, 1974) : Elizabeth Caroline (Smith) Secord
by John Wood, Online (Accessed March 2014)
September 21, 1849, Blackhead, Conception Bay, Newfoundland. Died April
25, 1898, Ashland Massachusetts. Her family resettled in Nova Scotia in
the 1850’s finally settling in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia in 1865. She
attended the Mount Allison Wesleyan Academy in Sackville, New Brunswick
graduating in 1866. She knew that her family could not afford to send
her to study medicine like she wanted so she earned her teacher’s
certificate at Normal School in Truro, Nova Scotia> She taught in
Dartmouth for 5 years saving to attend medical studies in the U.S.A. In
June 1882 she graduated from the Women’s Medical College of the New York
Infirmary for Women and Children. She did one year of internship at the
New England Hospital, Boston Massachusetts. She also did some post
graduate courses at the Royal Free Hospital in London, England. On
September 20, 1884 she became the
1st woman licensed medical doctor in
Nova Scotia. She was ahead of her times in many ways not only in
medical studies but in her appearance. She wore her hair cut short. She
was an avid member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and
lectured on the problems of alcohol and tobacco consumption. She also
advocated for advanced education for women and no doubt votes for women.
During a trip to the U.S.A. for ill health, she died unexpectedly from
The Indomitable Women Doctors by Carlotta Hacker (Toronto: Clarke
& Irwin, 1974) ; The Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
(Accessed April 2014)
she married at 18 this did not deter her from seeking an education. In
1800 she was one of the women taking summer medical courses for women at
Queen’s University. In the fall 1881 these courageous women joined in
the men’s courses at Queen’s. Both men and women in the same classes
proved to be too much for the students and the Women’s Medical College
was formed. Elizabeth graduated in 1884
and sailed to India as a medical
missionary for the Presbyterian Church
of Canada as the 1st woman medical missionary in
what would turn out to be a long list of dedicated individual women. In
Indore, India she lived in a mud house that also served as a dispensary
and hospital. She learned Hindi, the local language, to help tend the
people and even trained Indian women in nursing.
She went on to build the 1st
Woman’s Hospital in Central India. Ill
health forced her to return to Canada by the end of the decade. She left
behind the strong foundations of medical missions in India.
The Indomitable Women Doctors, by Carlotta Hacker. (Toronto: Clarke
& Irwin, 1974)
Octavia Grace England
(née Ritchie) Born Montreal, Quebec
February 1,1948. She would be the
1st woman to be valedictorian at McGill University even though she was originally refused entry because she
was a woman. She was the first woman to graduate from a medical school in
Faxton. Born Brockville, Ontario. She began her medical
studies at the Toronto Women’s Medical College but after two years she
relocated to Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 1892
she was the 1st woman to graduate from the Manitoba Medical
College. After graduation she marrie Dr Andrew Clarke of
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. In June 1899 she was advertising her medical
practice in Billings, Montana, U.S.A.
Sources: Carlotta Hacker, The Indomitable Lady Doctors;
Caroline Louise Josephine Wells. Dentist
Irwin Born August 1856. Died March 17, 1939. Josephine married dentist
John Wells on March 9, 1877. The couple had three children. After the
death of her husband the children were sent to live with relatives while
Josephine attended dental school. In
1893 Josephine Wells was the 1st woman to graduate from the
Royal College of Dental Surgeons.
She went on to receive her doctorate degree from the University of
Toronto in 1899. Josephine practiced her profession for 36 years in
Toronto. She provided dental services at provincial mental hospitals in
Toronto, Mimico, Hamilton, Orillia and at the infamous Ontario Mercer
Reformatory for Women.
Smith) Born 1872 St. Catharines, Ontario. In
1895 she graduated in medical
studies at the Women’s Hospital, University of Toronto. She became the
1st woman doctor to intern in
Canada when she was at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto. In
1896 she left to begin a career and to join her brother Everette Chute
and her finance in India. She married a medical doctor the Rev. Jesse
in India where they would raise the five children. Jesse built his wife
the Akidu’s Star of hope Hospital in 1898. It consisted of three rooms,
one room for women, a room for men and an office and dispensary in the
middle. Pearl sent promising students to Vellore to stud medicine and
she soon had qualified Indian staff working with her. She served as the
1st woman doctor in the Baptist Mission, in a career that
covered 40 years of service. Her small hospital was replaced by a sturdy
stone building staffed by qualified Indian staff. She was awarded the
Kaisar-i-Hind medal for outstanding service to India.
The Indomitable Lady Doctors by Carlotta Hacker, Clarke Irwin,
Born Bouctouche, New Brunswick 1857. Died 1925.
Georgea took her nursing training at the Waltham Training School for
nurses in Massachusetts, graduating in 1895
In 1898 she
headed a group of four nurses headed for Dawson, Yukon. Georgea was
officially the Lady Superintendant of the Victorian Order of
Nurses for the territory of the Yukon. The women arrived in the midst of a severe outbreak of
typhoid fever. Their work garnered national attention and the support of
the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON). Georgea remained in nursing in
Dawson until 1904 when she married North West Mounted Police Staff
Sergeant, George Bates (1858-1908). She remained in western Canada
after the death of her husband and worked as Matron of the Children’s
Shelter, Edmonton, Alberta from 1912-1918. Source: New Brunswick
women’s History online accessed November 2012. ; The Canadian
Association for the History of Nursing Newsletter Vol. 17 No. 2 Fall
2004 , )nline accessed November 2012.
Reynolds) Born June 7, 1860, Mount Forest, Ontario. Died July 9, 1947,
Victoria British Columbia. She attended Queen’s University in the second
class that allowed women students in 1881. Helen would have to
withstand abuse from some of the male students and faculty but she still
graduated at the top of her class in 1885. She opened her first practice
in Toronto. While struggling to establish herself she met and married
Thomas John Ryan. The couple settled in Sudbury, Ontario where he would
become elected mayor (1899 to 1901). She was
the 1st woman doctor to practice in Northern Ontario. Together
they raised a family of five children. In 1907 the family relocated to
British Columbia where Helen, unable to practice medicine in the
province, became active in public life. She worked for women’s
franchise. (right to vote).
She was the 1st
woman member of the Canadian Medical Association.
Sources: Greater Sudbury 125 1883-2008 the story of our times
(Bilingual) ; South Side Story, January 2005. Additional
information provided by Queen’s University Archives. ; The
indomitable Lady Doctors by Carlotta Hacker (Toronto: Clarke Irwin,
Born January 18, 1878. Died January 22, 1964. Young Irma wanted to
study medicine but no schools in Canada would accept women, so Irma headed
to New York in the U.S.A. to earn her medical education. She returned to
in 1900 but it would
take three years before a private members bill would pass the legislature
allowing her to join the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the
Province of Quebec as the 1st woman doctor. She found a lack of knowledge about childhood medical practices
and traveled to Europe to gain more knowledge in 1908. She and Mme De
Gaspé-Beaubien founded Hôpital Sainte-Justine for the care of children. In
1915 she responded to the request of doctors to serve in World War l
returning to New York to work for the Red Cross in the USA. In 1922, using
her own savings, she founded Hôpital de L’Enfant-Jésus. By 1927 she had
her own clinic for handicapped children and also opened a school for
disabled youth. In order to relax from the rigueur of medicine and
hospital administration she worked with her other passion of painting and
took classes at Ecole des Beaux-Arts in the 1920’s becoming an
accomplished artist. In the 1950’s she was celebrated for her 50 years of
medical service by the Circle des femmes universitaires, however, she
would die in poverty largely and unknown pioneer in pediatric medical care. Sources: Irma Levasseur
http://grandquebec.com/gens-du-pays/irma-levasseur(accessed June 30,
2008) ; Celebrating women’s achievements: Canadian women in science: Irma
http://collectionscanada.gc.ca/ also available in French. (Accessed
June 30, 2008) This
entry suggested by Pat Land.
Born January 7, 1862. Died October 8, 1953.
In 1901 Helen graduated with a medical
degree from the University of Toronto and interned as the 1st
woman doctor with the Toronto General Hospital. She went on
to be the 1st woman doctor to
do post graduate studies at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore,
Maryland, U.S.A. In 1909 she conducted a survey of the high
infant death rated experienced in cities at the turn of the century. In
1914 she wrote a popular book, A little Talk About Baby. In 1915
she was appointed the inspector of the feeble minded in Ontario. Sadly
her actions to persuade the government that eugenics was the answer to
preventing degenerate babies led to the wrongful sterilization of many
immigrants. Helen was the 1st editor of the Canadian Nurses
Journal. In 1920 she was placed in charge of the federal government’s
new Division of Child Welfare and was responsible for the contents of
some of the government published Blue Books with advice on caring
for children. These little books were published in multiple languages
including Cree. It was in the 1920’s that she made a special study of
medical inspection of schools, child welfare and public health in
England and the United States. In 1934 she was inducted as Commander of
the Order of the British Empire (CBE). In 1949 she was named one of the
leading women doctors in the western world. In 1997 she was declared a
Person of National Historic Significance.
Georgina Fane Pope. Born
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island 1862. Died June 6, 1938. She
graduated from the Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing, in New York. and
served in various administrative positions at hospitals in the US. With
the Canadian involvement in the South African War , she volunteered for
nursing services with the British forces in October 1899. In fact she
headed the first group of four Canadian nurses. In 1902 she returned to
South Africa , leading a small nursing force, the third such group but
this time they were officially the Canadian Army Nursing Service, a part
of the Canadian Army Medical Corp. In 1903 she was
the 1st Canadian to receive the Royal Red Cross
for conspicuous service in the field. Once more at home, she
continued to serve in the Canadian reserves. By 1906 she was working with
the permanent forces at the Garrison Hospital at Halifax and in 1908 she
became the 1st Matron of the Canadian Army
Medical Corp. She served in World War 1 in 1917 -1918. In
1983 Canada’s National Historical Sites and Monument Board declared her a
National Historic Person of Canada.
Born 1856, Milton, (Upper Canada (now Ontario) Died October 26, 1943.
She graduated Albert College, Belleville Ontario and worked there for
three years. Moving to Williamsport Pennsylvania she worked 4 years at
what is now Lycoming College. Returning to Canada she worked at the
Presbyterian Ladies College in Toronto for 6 years. She also spent time
learning the French language at the Sorbonne in Paris and then she took
courses at Nottingham College at Cambridge, England. Just at the turn
of the century in 1899 she was an early female
student to graduate with a B.A. from the University of Toronto.
By 1903 she had earned her PhD
from the university where she was the 1st woman to receive a
PhD in Philosophy (Psychology was covered by Philosophy at this time.)
From 1901, while still working on her PhD through to 1914 she
served at Lady Principal at Mount Allison Ladies College in Sackville,
New Brunswick. She did take a year off from Mount Allison in 1911 to
visit the Holy lands and came back to share her knowledge with her
students. In 1914 she moved to the Maryland College for Women in
Lutherville, Maryland, U.S.A.. Retiring in 1928 she moved back to
Emma Sophia Baker
A. Rutherford (Ed.), Psychology's Feminist Voices Multimedia
Internet Archive. Retrieved from
(Accessed August 2014)
January 6, 1866, Campbellford, Upper Canada. Died January 15, 1958, San
Antonio, Texas, U.S.A. Her family resettled in Winnipeg, Manitoba where
Elizabeth went to high school and by 1878 she was a teacher in Manitoba.
In 1887 she volunteered to work in a home for orphans. The following
year she was studying medicine at the Women’s Medical College in
Kingston, Ontario in preparation for being a medical missionary with the
Presbyterian mission in India. While in India she became ill with
Malaria and was sent back to Canada. On December 22, 1880 she married
John Matheson, a sort of jack of all trades who would become an Anglican
minister. In 1892 Jack was appointed to the Onion Lake Reserve Mission.
Jack took up trading to supplement the meager income and started a
cattle ranch along with a farm and gardens allowing him to build stables
and a storehouse. He also built up the poor church, the manse and a 3
storey schoolhouse. The couple would have nine children as well as a
large number of adopted Indian children. The school became
inter-denomination embracing the Catholic Métis, Presbyterians and
Anglicans. Elizabeth completed her medical school studies at the
Manitoba Medical College and the Ontario Medical College for Women in
Toronto, Ontario in 1898. She became the only medical help for many
people often riding miles to help those in need. In 1901 there was a
small pox epidemic and Elizabeth was appointed a government doctor by
the Department of Indian Affairs even though she was not licensed. The
Physicians and Surgeons refused to register her, so she went
to Winnipeg to repeat fourth year medicine and received a second MD
degree in 1904 and became the 1st
registered woman doctor in the area. After John’s death in
1916 and the appointment of a new principal at the Onion Lake School
Elizabeth moved to Winnipeg where she became a doctor with the Public
schools until she retired in 1948. BOOK: The Doctor Rode Side Saddle.
Sources: The Indomitable Lady Doctors by Carlotta Hacker, 1974. :
The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Online (Accessed May 2014)
Maud Leonora Menten. Born Port Lambton,
Ontario 1879 Died 1960. A
dedicated and outstanding medical scientist she was
the 1st Canadian woman to receive a medical
doctorate in 1911 at the University of Toronto. In 1913, while
working in Germany, she and a colleague Leonora Michaelis developed the
Michaelis-Menten equation which is a basic biochemical concept. She
continued researching and publishing and made discoveries relating to
blood sugar, hemoglobin and kidney functions. From 1951-1954 she conducted
cancer research in British Columbia.
Smillie) Born February 10, 1878, Hansall, Ontario. Died February 26,
1981. Jane became a teacher so that she could earn money to attend the
Ontario Medical College, Kingston, Ontario (merged with University of
Toronto, 1906). Once she had earned her medical certificate in 1909 she
could not find a Toronto hospital that would accept her for residency.
She took off the U.S.A. to intern at Philadelphia’s Women’s Medical
Collage. She returned to Toronto to practice medicine and became,
perhaps, the 1st woman in Canada to perform surgery.
operated in a private home because she was still having problems finding
a position in any local hospital which were still reluctant to accept
woman doctors. She was also the 1st woman doctor in Canada to
perform major gynecological surgery. Jennie worked to establish Women’s
College Hospital as well as the Federation of Medical Women in Canada.
At 70 she married her childhood sweetheart, Alex Robertson.
“Dr Jennie Smillie Robertson, woman surgeon, was 1st to enter practice
in Canada”, Globe and Mail, March 3, 1981 : Builders and
1872, Orangeville, Ontario. Died May 28, 1957, Toronto, Ontario. A
bright student in Public School and High School she obtained a teaching
certificate and moved to be with her brother Dr. John Buchanan Reid
(1861-1931) in Tilsonburg, Ontario. It while living with her brother
that she became interested in medicine. In 1905 she and her sister
Hannah Emily Reid (1876-1955) both graduated from medical school in
Toronto, Ontario. Minerva completed her surgical training in London,
England and Dublin, Ireland. Both Minerva and Hannah served on the
1st Board of Directors of the
Toronto Women’s College Hospital.
In 1915 Minerva became the 1st
woman to be chief of Surgery in North America.
Minerva also campaigned to the establishment of Sunnybrook
Hospital in Toronto to care for wounded soldiers. She was also active in
her community as a member of the Toronto Women’s Committee. She ran for
provincial parliament in 1929 and in 1935 she ran in the federal
election. In 1996 Rose Anthony wrote a one woman play, The League of
Notions, based on Minerva’s life.
Victoria Chung (sometimes spelled Cheung)
Victoria British Columbia, 1897. Died South Guangzhou Province, China
May 1966. As a child growing up she taught Sunday School at her Church ,
joined girls groups and took music lessons in Chinatown. Her mother was
a working nurse with irregular hours so Victoria boarded at the school
where she proclaimed that she wanted to be a missionary in China. In
1917 the Women’s Missionary Society offered Victoria a university
scholarship. Since British Columbia prohibited Chinese people from
entering any profession, Victoria studied medicine at the University or
Toronto, the only Canadian school to accept female medical students in
Canada, at that time.
Graduating in 1922, she was the 1st woman of Chinese descent to become
a doctor in Canada. The WMS sent her to Marion Barclay Hospital
for women and children in China, fulfilling her childhood dream of
becoming a missionary. Her family would also join her in China. Not only
was she a doctor making house calls for the sick but she also taught at
the local nursing school She modernized medical facilities and even
bought an ambulance in 1932. In all she would work 43 years in China.
She remained during the Japanese invasion in the 1930 and later when
Communism was introduced into China she again remained to serve the
sick. Her funeral was attended by some 2000 people. There is a three
meter high statue of Victoria in the lobby of Jiangnen Central Hospital
in South Guangzhou Province where she served. On December 8, 2012 the
City of Victoria, British Columbia declared Victoria Chung Day while in
China, her accomplishments were recognized on the 100th
anniversary of the Jiangnen Central Hospital.
From the pages of three ladies: Canadian women missionaries in
Republican China. By Deborah Shulman (MA Thesis, Concordia
University, 1996) ; Victoria Chung: a Legacy of unselfish service
by Xiao Kaigang. Womenofchina.cn accessed January 2012 ; 100 more
Canadian Heroines by Merna Forester (Dundurn, 2011)
Born Augusta, Georgia,
U.S.A. August 26, 1910. Died October 16, 1978. A distinguished and
internationally recognized surgeon, lecturer and researcher, Dr. Gray has
so many “firsts” that “The Canadian Encyclopedia” calls her
Canada’s first lady of surgery. From 1941 until retirement in 1965 she
worked with the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, as associate and as
surgeon-in-chief. Here is the list of firsts:
1934, 1st woman gold medalist in medicine at
the University of Toronto; 1939 first woman to hold a master of surgery
degree; 1941 first woman resident surgeon a the Toronto General Hospital;
1941 first Canadian woman to become a “fellow” in the Royal College of
Surgeons; first woman member of the Central Surgical Society of North
America; 1966 first woman elected to the Science Council of Canada.
1905 Nelson, British Columbia. Died Winnipeg, Manitoba January 30, 1982.
At 12 years old she moved to Winnipeg with her family. She was educated
at the University of Manitoba Medical School, graduating Cum Laude in
1930. After a year in Britain she set up practice in Winnipeg in 1931.
In 1937 she received a six-month appointment as house surgeon at the
South London Hospital for Women, following which she took the
examination to become, in 1938, the
1st Canadian woman member of the British Royal College of
Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
In 1950, she opened the Women’s Pavilion at the Winnipeg General
Hospital and in 1951 she was appointed professor of obstetrics and
gynecology and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at
the University of Manitoba. That same year she was declared Winnipeg’s
Woman of the Year. In 1961, she was elected the first woman president of
the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada. She retired
from the University in 1964, although she continued to teach for many
years thereafter. Her research papers are at the
Manitoba Archives and Special Collections.
Manitoba Biography by
J. M. Bumsted
University of Manitoba Press, 1999: Memorable Manitobans Profile
by Gordon Goldsborough. Online (accessed December 2011) :; Government of
Manitoba. Status of Women. Women
March 16, 1909,Hamilton, Ontario. Died March 31, 1980. After graduation
in Medicine she interned at the Toronto General Hospital and Women’s
College Hospital. Wanting to serve in World War ll in
August 1941 she became the second
woman and 1st woman doctor to
in enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Women’s Division.
She held the position of Squadron Leader of the Women’s Division, RCAF,
and was the 1st woman to be granted a commission in the
Medical Branch of any Canadian Armed Forces. May 28, 1943 she was
awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of her
service. In 1950 she was appointed Chief of Medicine at the Women’s
College Hospital. 1956 through to 1973 she taught at the University of
Toronto where she became Professor in the Faculty of Medicine. In 1973
she was inducted into the Order of Canada.
The Indomitable Lady Doctors by Carlotta Hacker (Toronto: Clarke,
Irwin & Co Ltd, 1974) ; Order of Canada,
www.gg.ca (Accessed February 2014)
Stella W. Tate.
1922. Died 1999. Stella graduated from the University of Toronto with a
diploma in occupational therapy in 1943. Hired as a typist in the
Canadian Navy she was shortly promoted and commissioned as a lieutenant
and became the Canadian Navy’s 1st
occupational Therapist. In the 1960’s she established the
Occupational Therapy Program at Toronto’s Hugh MacMillan Rehabilitation
Center. In the 1970’s she helped develop
the province of Ontario’s 1st home care programme which
allowed patients to be at home while having therapy.
“Builders and Pioneers : Individuals who helped ideas prosper”
Born June 26, 1908, Fernie, British Columbia. Died October 26, 1990
Kelona, British Columbia. Her family moved to Edmonton Alberta in 1911
and it was here that she attended school. She studied nursing at
Edmonton General Hospital and became a Registered Nurse (RN) in 1929.
Winnifred married Duncan Stewart in 1932 and in 1934 they welcomed their
son Parker. Parker was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and Winnifred
refused to accept that the limits that were supposed to happen with
developmentally disadvantaged children during this era. This led her on
a journey to experimental research into new teaching methods. In 1953,
along with other parents she formed the Winnifred Stewart Association
for the Mentally Handicapped and established the 1st school of its kind
to serve handicapped children. In 1954
she was the 1st woman to address
the Alberta Legislature from the floor of the provincial House of
The Alberta government in turn provide the 1st
financial support for schools for mentally handicapped children. Between
1954 and 1970 Winnifred organized and funded 19 schools across western
Canada. In 1956 her work was recognized when she became the Most
Outstanding Person of the Year sponsored by the Canadian Mental Health
Association. In 1966 she was named Edmonton’s Citizen of the Year. She
als0 inspired the opening of the unique Western Industrial Research
Training Centre in 1968. In 1972 she was presented with the Order of
Canada. She was tireless in her continuing efforts and in 1979 Crewood
Industries was opened as a vocational training sheltered workshop. In
1985 she was posthumously inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence.
Winnifred also is known as the Edmontonian of the Century.
Winnifred Mary Stewart (1908-1990) Naming Committee, Honouring People
and Places in Our City. WWW. Edmonton.ca (Accessed May 2015)
Submitted by Dr Kathleen L. Linaker, Centre for Life and Health
Services, Mohawk Valley Community College, Utica, New York, U.S.A.
January 30, 1929, Montreal, Quebec. Died August 1, 1996, Lombardy,
Italy. From the age of 12 she knew just what she wanted to do, she
wanted to be a doctor. She studies at the University of Montreal and
in 1955 was the 1st woman in
Quebec to receive a diploma as a surgeon. She attempted to
obtain training abroad but was turned down by American hospitals because
she was a women. During her internship in Montréal Lucille met Piero
Corti, a young Italian doctor studying pediatrics. His dream to
establish a world-class teaching hospital in Africa. He had already
heard about a small clinic near Lacor, a town not far from Gulu, a city
in northern Uganda. It was little more than a dispensary with a few
dozen beds, but he saw it as a starting point. In 1961, she joined
forces with Corti, her future husband, and they worked in Uganda for
more than thirty years. Dr. Teasdale would tend to as many as 300
outpatients each morning and perform surgeries in the afternoon. Dr.
Teasdale performed more the 13,000 surgeries working through Idi Admin’s
dictatorship, civil wars, epidemics and massacres. She received many
awards for her life work including being an Officer of the Order of the
Merit of the Republic of Italy in 1981, inducted as a member of the
Order of Canada 1991, named a Grand Officer of the National Order of
Québec 1995, and awarded the Saskawa Prize with her husband in 1996.
This is the most prestigious distinction awarded by the World Health
Organization of the United Nations. She died from aids which she
contracted while operating on an infected soldier. Canada Post issued a
commemorative stamp in her honour as part of the Millennium series,
January 17, 2000. In 2001 she was inducted into the Canadian Medical
Hall of Fame.
Dr. Lucille Teasdale. Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Online (Accessed
2005) ; Lucille Teasdale. The Canadian Encyclopedia Online (Accessed
2005) ; Dawson, Joanna and Beverly Tallon. “Helping Heroes: Canadians
who made a difference in the world.’ In Canada’s History
February- March 2013
Born July 18, 1891, New Westminster, British Columbia. Died July 31,
1972, West Vancouver, British Columbia . She graduated with her B.A.
from McGill University, Montreal in 1913. During World War l she worked
in military hospitals and earned her MD at McGill in 1927. She also
studied in Europe, before she practiced in Vancouver. Using her own
money, set up a centre to prove the benefits of radiotherapy in 1937.
From 1939-1944 she served as Director, B.C. Cancer Institute.
She was the 1st woman president of the B.C.
Medical Association in 1946/7 and in 1952 she was the 1st
woman president of the National Cancer Institute of Canada.
was also president of the Federation of Canadian Medical Women. In 1963
she was awarded a citation from the Canadian Medical Association for her
cancer research. She was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1968. An
art collector, she deeded her home, Klee Wyck, named for her artist
friend Emily Carr, to West Vancouver as an arts centre.
Source: Vancouver Hall of Fame (Accessed December 2012)
1915, Strathroy, Ontario. Died April 23, 2014. In 1939 Mary earned her
B.A. from the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario. By 1949
she had receiver her PhD in Child Psychology from the University of
Toronto. During World War ll she served in the United Kingdom
developing care for evacuated British children. In 1946 she was a
professor of Child Psychology at the University of Western Ontario.
In 1959 she was the 1st woman director with the Canadian
Psychological Association and in 1960 at UWO she became the 1st
woman in Canada to chair a major psychology Department.
1968 she served as President of the Canadian Psychological Association
and would earn the Gold Medal for Lifetime contributions to the
profession. She also served as President of the Ontario Psychological
Society where she earned the Award for distinguished contributions to
her profession. She was one of the few distinguished international
persons to be elected a fellow of the American Psychological
Association. She is well published in academic psychology. The UWO named
the University laboratory I her honour. She has also been presented with
the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal. Locally she was on the Board of the
London Meals on Wheels, and the United Way. In 2007 she was the London
YMCA Woman of Excellence. The Town of Strathroy has named a public
School in her honour when she was 98 years of age.
Source: Obituaries. Globe and Mail April 26, 2014; Laura
Bell,(2010) Mary Jean Wright
A. Rutherford (Ed.), Psychology's Feminist Voices Multimedia
Internet Archive. Retrieved from http://www.feministvoices.com.
Online (Accessed August 2014)
submitted by June Coxon.
Born Poland, 1921. She earned her first medical degree at the university
of Heidelberg, Germany, 1951. Since it was not acceptable for foreigners
to practice medicine in Germany, Daria and her new husband Heinz L.
Haust immigrated to Canada and she began the process of earning the
right to practice in Canada. In the early 1950’s she enjoyed being at
home with her two sons born in 1953 and 1955, while working part time
towards her goals of practicing medicine. In 1959-1960 she worked as a
post doctoral Fellow in Cincinnati, returning to Kingston
in 1960 to become the 1st woman on the Medical
Faculty at Queen’s University.
In 1965 the family moved to the
University of Western Ontario , London, Ontario. She became a welcome
lecturer internationally and as well as a multitude of medical
committees she was soon on the boards of five prestigious medical
journals. Of all her positions she enjoyed working with her students and
is perhaps proudest of her award as best teacher at UWO. Her list of
awards is impressive and long: The Canada Council Killam prize in
Medicine; the Gold Medal Award from the International Atherosclerosis
Society; the Andreas Versalis award, University of Padua; Distinguished
Pathologist Award, US/Canadian Academy of Pathology(2004) to name a
few. In 2007 she received the Order of Canada. She is still involved
with teaching as Professor emeritus at Universality of Western Ontario
(Western University) .
Girard. Born November 11,1907
Connecticut, U.S.A. Died January 1,
1999. Her family was originally from Quebec and when she was just 11 in
1918 her family returned to Canada.Alice studied nursing at the
Hôpital St-Vincent de Paul, Sherbrooke graduating in 1931. By 1939 she
had earned a diploma in public hygiene at the University of Toronto and
went on to earn her baccalaureate in nursing sciences at the University
of Washington and obtained her masters in education from Columbia
University, New York City, U.S.A. in 1944. As a public
health nurse she would develop into a leading nursing educator. She
was a founder of the faculty of nursing sciences at the University of
Montreal in 1962 and served as Dean
of the Faculty of Nursing through to 1973. She was the
1st Canadian woman dean at a French language university.
the 1st Canadian president of the
of Nurses, Geneva, Switzerland 1965-1969. She also
served as president of the Canadian Nurses Association.
In 1967 she received the Canadian Centennial Medal and the
Florence Nightingale Medal from the Red Cross. She served as president
of the national Victoria of Nurses 1975-1977. In 1977 she was
inducted as a commander of the Order of St John. In 1980 she was made a
Dame Commander of the Order of Saint Lazarus.
In 1994 she became a Chevalier of the National Order of
Quebec. In 1995 she became an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Canora, Saskatchewan May 5, 1927. Died September 26, 2012 Saskatchewan.
An excellent academic achiever she established her reputation for
achievement in nuclear medical research early in her career. She was
instrumental in the development of the first cobalt radiation unit which
is now in side use as a chemotherapy treatment for cancer.
She was the 1st
woman named to the position of Chancellor at the University of
Saskatchewan. and 1st woman Lieutenant Governor of
Saskatchewan She was also the 1st woman trustee of the
Society of Nuclear Medicine and in 1973 she was the 1st
woman appointed to the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada. She was
Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan from 1988 to 1994. A balanced
achiever she enjoys sports and is a member of Canada’s Curling Hall of
fame. She was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1986.
“Ex-lieutenant-governor a cancer-care pioneer” by Jennifer Graham The
Globe and Mail September 28, 2012
Elizabeth "Betty" MacRae
Born Montreal, Quebec. 1941. She originally did her undergraduate studies
in physical education and then switched to continue her studies
in medicine at the University of Toronto In 1982
the young medical doctor
moved to Calgary to practice as
Canada’s 1st woman
neurosurgeon. She is know for being straightforward and
“tells it like it is” with all her patients. She is also an examiner with
the Royal College of Physicians. She is married with two stepchildren and
is discovering the joys of being a new grandmother. She works with the
Canadian National Ski Team and enjoys mountain climbing. Retirement is
perhaps on the horizon but for now she is dedicated to the profession that
she says was where she was meant to be even if some men did not think so!
Suggested source: Herstory: the Canadian Women’s Calendar 2007.
William, (now Thunder Bay) Ontario, 1964. She was raised on the Little
Grand Rapids Reserve in Northern Manitoba. She studied for her Bachelor
in Science and Masters in Science at the University of Waterloo,
Ontario. She earned her Medical Degree at McMaster University in
1993 becoming Canada’s 1st female Aboriginal
psychiatrist. May 25, 2006 she married Timothy Joseph. She
was previously a Co-Director of the Indigenous Health Research
Development Program and Assistant Professor in the Dalla Lana School of
Public Health at the University of Toronto. She provides psychiatric and
consulting services to various mental health and social service agencies
in downtown Toronto, including the new YWCA Elm Centre, a supportive
housing complex for women living with mental health and addictions
issues. She also serves on an advisory group to the Chief Public Health
Officer of the Public Health Agency of Canada. Dr. Wieman received a
National Aboriginal Achievement Award in 1998 for her work in improving
the physical and mental health of Aboriginal Peoples.
Canadian Who’s Who, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2003)
Born 1947, Ireland. In 1970 she graduated from University College,
Dublin, Ireland. In 1972 she moved to Canada. By 1977 she had completed
her medical residency in Calgary, Alberta and had moved to Saskatoon to
be chief of anesthesia at City Hospital.
she became the 1st woman to be president of the Canadian
Anesthesiologists Society. In 2000 , Canada hosted the Congress
of World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiologists and Angela headed
up the organizing committee for this successful event. She tool the
position of Medical Director of Anesthesia for Vancouver Island Health
Authority along with teaching at the Universities of Victoria and
British Columbia. 2005 found her working with the Government of Rwanda
and the National University of Rwanda to develop post graduate
anesthesia training programs. She also has her own full-time practice in
Herstory: the Canadian women’s Calendar 2008. (Saskatoon women’s
calendar collective/Coteau Books, 2007)
Died June 2, 2008 Toronto, Ontario. In 1982 she earned her medical
degree from the University of Toronto and the following year she took
time off to travel the world. In
1998 she was the 1st Canadian woman of colour to be named
Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
In 2001 she led the campaign called ‘DineSafe’ which was the 1st
program of its kind in Canada that required restaurants to display
health inspection reports in their windows. By 2004 she was Ontario’s
Chief Medical Officer of Health. At 5 foot tall she was described as a
‘diminutive dynamo’. She was calm by nature and that lead Toronto to
survive the SARS epidemic calmly in 2003.
Source; Tanya Talaga & Prithi Yelaya. Obituary. The Toronto Star,
June 3, 2008.
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