A Guide to Women in Canadian History

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Author on climb to Mt. Kilimanjaro, copyright M. Forster

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Meet the Author
Merna Forster and Stephen Poloz
Merna Forster, leader of the national campaign to get Canadian women on bank notes, and Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz (Justin Tang photo).

Merna Forster is a writer, historian, educator, public speaker, photographer and genealogist. She's the author of the popular books 100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces and 100 More Canadian Heroines as well as a picture book for children, articles in newspapers and magazines, a national park brochure and several retail booklets. Merna has a particular interest in women's history, natural and cultural heritage, travel and the outdoors.

Merna earned a B.A. at the University of Alberta in Edmonton after studying both arts and sciences. A recipient of the Richard J. Schmeelk Canada Fellowship, Merna received an M.A. in history from Laval University in Quebec City.

Merna worked with national parks and national historic sites across Canada in the areas of educational programs, outreach and visitor services. One of her favourite postings was in Haines Junction, Yukon - where she was the Chief of Visitor Services for Kluane National Park. Merna also enjoyed her many years as a Parks Canada naturalist in Jasper National Park, where she was a longtime board member and eventually president of the Jasper Yellowhead Historical Society.

Merna has worked in the field of Canadian Studies. During her career with the federal government, she was a civil servant in the Department of Canadian Heritage as well as Parks Canada. She was the recipient of group awards such as the Deputy Minister`s Award 1999-2000: Installation of Governor General, and the Deputy Minister's Award 2001-2002: Development of CultureCanada.gc.ca Website.

While based in Ottawa she received the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Commemorative Medal and served as vice-president of the Ottawa Independent Writers. In 2005 Merna was awarded The Lieutenant Governor's Celebration of the Arts Pin by Dr. Lynda Haverstock, Lieutenant Governor, Province of Saskatchewan. Merna Forster was one of the women featured in Herstory 2011: The Canadian Women's Calendar. She received a University of Alberta Alumni Honour Award in September 2012, to honour her accomplishments as a Canadian historian and her advocacy in raising awareness of Canada's unsung heroines. In 2015, Merna Forster was awarded the prestigious Daughters of the American Revolution Historic Preservation Medal by Lynn Forney Young, president general of DAR.

Merna currently works at the University of Victoria as Executive Director of the Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History Project, which received the 2008 Pierre Berton Award. She was a member of the Emily Carr Statue Committe (Parks & Recreation Foundation of Victoria), which raised the money for the Emily Carr statue.

From 2013-2016, Merna Forster led the successful national campaign calling for Canadian women on bank notes. This resulted in a committment from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau to feature a woman from Canadian history on bank notes in 2018. The announcement was made on March 8, 2016 - International Women's Day. The Bank of Canada selected Merna as one of a seven-member Advisory Council that reviewed nominations for the iconic Canadian woman to appear on a new bank note in 2018.

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Merna's book 100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces was published by The Dundurn Group of Toronto. Ask for the book at a store near you! The publication is also available from amazon.ca, amazon.com and chapters.indigo.ca. Read more about 100 Canadian Heroines, and check out the book reviews.

100 Canadian Heroines

The second volume in the series is 100 More Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces, published by The Dundurn Group in September 2011. Be sure to check for it at your local bookstore, or order from amazon.ca, amazon.com or chapters.indigo.ca.

100 More Canadian Heroines

Merna's picture book Children of the Prairie was published by Baico Publishing.

Children of the Prairie

Other Publications

To purchase Maligne, Valley of the Wicked River and Jasper...A Walk in the Past contact the Friends of Jasper National Park Bookstore.

Maligne Valley guidebook Jasper historical buildings

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