A Guide to Women in Canadian History

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Win a prize
Contests in 2005

January 2005:

Obachan's GardenThe winner of our January 2005 contest was Chico Dedick of Delta, British Columbia. Chico won a free copy of the video Obachan's Garden, directed by Linda Ohama. Congratulations Chico!

Produced by the National Film Board of Canada, the video tells the story of a Japanese "picture bride". A marriage had been arranged after only an exchange of letters and pictures between the potential bride and groom. Asayo Murakami emigrated to Canada in 1923, where she settled in the fishing village of Steveston, B.C. Asayo reluctantly reveals her secrets in this moving depiction of a fascinating life. Obachan's Garden is is a powerful documentary about an incredible Canadian woman.
94 minutes
Order number: H9101 056
Available for purchase from the NFB.

February 2005:

The winner of our February 2005 contest was Rose Clarke of Mt. Pearl, Newfoundland. Rose won a free copy of the book Black Women: Profiles of Black Women in Canada, by Rella Braithwaite and Tessa Benn-Ireland.

Some Black WomenThe authors have put together an interesting collection of mini-biographies for a cross-section of Black women. Most of the profiles are accompanied by photographs. The book also includes information about women's organizations, the early Black church, the Black media, early Black organizations, landmarks and historic sites, bursaries named for outstanding Black Canadians, films and videos by Black women, and books by and about Black women. There is also a section with quick facts. The book is a useful source of information about the contributions of Black women in Canada.
ISBN 0-920813-84-4
Published by Sister Vision, 1993

March 2005:

The winner of our March 2005 contest was Janet McDougall of Perth Andover, New Brunswick. Janet won a free copy of the book Silent Partners: Wives of National Park Wardens, by Ann Dixon.

Silent PartnersThis limited edition publication was a labour of love for Ann Dixon, who began her involvement with National Parks in 1954 when her husband Fred got a job with the Ya Ha Tinda Ranch in the Canadian Rockies. Fred and Ann Dixon lived for many years in Banff, Yoho, Riding Mountain, and Elk Island National Parks--where he worked as a park warden. As a tribute to the wardens' wives, Ann collected their stories and photos for this book. Silent Partners is an important source of information about the contributions of the pioneer women who were married to park wardens.

Non-fiction, 206 pages, black and white illustrations
ISBN 0-9692189-0-7
Published by Robins Southern Printing Ltd., 1998 (first edition 1985)
Available by special order from the author:
Ann Dixon-Bruder
Box 1893
Pincher Creek
AB, Canada TOK 1WO
Phone: (403) 627-5137
$15.00 for paperback, $40.00 hard cover (plus shipping and handling)

April 2005:

The winner of our April 2005 contest was Silvia Demmy of Calgary, Alberta. Silvia won a free copy of the book Fighting for Home&Country: Women Remember World War II, edited by Janine Roelens-Grant for the Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario (FWIO).

Fighting for Home&CountryThe FWIO produced this book to document the stories of young girls and women during World War II, from 1939 to 1945. Members of the FWIO who now live in Ontario shared their experiences of being prisoners of war, mechanics, truck drivers, war brides, factory workers, cooks, etc. during the war. The resulting book is a fascinating record of hope and horror, courage and cruelty. This publication is an important source of information about the personal experiences of Canadian women during World War II, and the contributions they made to the war effort in Canada and abroad.

Non-fiction, 225 pages
Available by special order from FWIO:
FWIO Provincial Office
7382 Wellington Road 30, RR5
Guelph, ON
N1H 6J2
Phone: (519) 836-3078
Email: fwio@fwio.on.ca
$21.95 (plus shipping and handling, GST)

Contest that closed April 30, 2005:

Tell us and your essay could be published!

100 Canadian HeroinesTo celebrate the release of the new book 100 Canadian Heroines by Merna Forster we are asking Canadian students to make a case for their favourite Canadian heroine in Canadian history. The subject of the winning essay will be the 101st Canadian heroine.

The FIRST PRIZE WINNER will have his or her winning essay published in Merna Forster's next colleciton of Canadian heroines to be published by Dundurn Press; $300 worth of books published by Dundurn Press; $100 cash prize; and the winning essay will be posted on www.dundurn.com and www.heroines.ca.

The rules are simple! Your heroine MUST:
1. not be alive
2. be Canadian-born or have accomplished something significant in Canada
3. not be one of the heroines in 100 Canadian Heroines by Merna Forster

You MUST be:
1. 12-16 years of age
2. living in Canada

The biography of your Canadian heroine should be 500-700 words (2-3 pages) in length, typed or printed neatly, with all of the sources you have consulted (check out 100 Canadian Heroines to see how).

We must receive your entry by APRIL 30, 2005. Please send it to: Contest, Dundurn Press, 8 Market Street, Suite 200, Toronto, ON, M5E 1M6.

Winner will be announced in JUNE 2005. Please click here for complete contest rules and regulations.

Contest Resources

Please feel free to download a copy of the poster to promote this contest in your library, school group, youth group, or association.

Colour Poster PDF
Black & White Poster PDF
Colour Poster JPG
Black & White Poster JPG

Other media resources such as press releases and ideas on how to use this contest within your organization:
Press Release
Contest Ideas

May 2005:

The winner of our May 2005 contest was Anu Chopra of Missassaug, Ontario. Anu won a free copy of the picture book Children of the Prairie, written by Joyce Dufresne and Merna Forster.

Based on a true story, Children of the Prairie is a heart-warming tale about family and the simple pleasures of growing up on the Alberta prairie. A touching recollection of childhood and the hardships of pioneer life from the perspective of a young girl.

Picture book for children
Ages 5-9
Written by Joyce Dufresne and Merna Forster
Illustrated by Jeremy Salzman
ISBN: 1894494-93-8
Paper, 50 pages
Available from:
Baico Publishing
71 Des Camélias
Gatineau, Quebec J9J 2G1
E-mail: raymondcoderre@videotron.ca

June 2005:

The winner of our June 2005 contest was Michele Mitchell of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. Michele won a free copy of the book Incorrigible.

The book tells the amazing story of Velma Demerson, a Canadian woman who was arrested in 1939 for having a relationship with a Chinese man. Thanks to the Female Refuges Act, the young woman was locked up at the Mercer Reformatory for Females in Toronto. Decades later the feisty survivor took on the system that imprisoned her. A moving account of a shameful episode in Canadian history. As David Suzuki wrote about this book, "Any thinking person should be outraged at the issue raised by Ms. Demerson."

Non-fiction book
Written by Velma Demerson
Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2004
ISBN: 88920-444-6
Paper, 172 pages
Available from:

July 2005: Announcement of Winners of Heroines Contest


Congratulations to everyone who entered the essay contest for Canadian students to write about their favourite heroine in Canadian history. The Dundurn Group, in conjunction with the release of Merna Forster's book 100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces, asked young Canadians to conduct research and write biographies about women who made important contributions to the country.

Carrie LauThe Dundurn Group announced in July 2005 that 16-year-old Carrie Lau from Markham, Ontario won the contest with her essay "First Woman Senator: Cairine Reay Mackay Wilson". Dundurn has declared the pioneer senator to be the 101st Canadian heroine. Carrie Lau's essay will appear in Merna Forster's next collection of Canadian heroines, to be published by Dundurn Press. Carrie also received a cash prize of $100 from Ms. Forster and $300 worth of books from the The Dundurn Group. You can read Carrie's essay "First Woman Senator: Cairine Reay Mackay Wilson" online as a PDF document.

Emily ZhengEmily Zheng, a 15-year-old student from Scarborough, Ontario, won second prize for her essay "Lady Overlander: Catherine Schubert". Catherine was the only woman among a group of about 150 settlers who made an incredible journey from Ontario to the interior of British Columbia in 1862.
"Lady Overlander: Catherine Schubert"

Sarah HibbertThe Dundurn Group awarded third prize to Sarah Jane Thorne Hibbert, a 14-year old who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Sarah wrote an essay entitled "The Prairie Midwife: Mary Annie Cole", which is a biography of her great-great grandmother.
The Prairie Midwife: Mary Annie Cole

Congratulations to the many students across Canada who entered the "Who is YOUR Canadian Heroine" contest. And thanks to the many teachers and parents who provided support.

September 2005 Contest

200 Remarkable Alberta women

The winner of our September 2005 contest was Rhiannon Gammon of Fort St. James, British Columbia. Rhiannon won a free copy of the book 200 Remarkable Alberta Women.

This book about notable women from Alberta is a timely read given that this is Alberta's Centennial. Written by Kay Sanderson, the book includes information about women who have played important roles in the history of the province. Happy Birthday Alberta!

October 2005 Contest

The winner of our Monthly Contest for October 2005 was Catherine Zlatnik of Rawdon, Quebec. Congratulations Catherine! Catherine won a copy of the book 100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces. For the month of October all contest participants were asked to identify their favourite Canadian heroine.

Catherine told us "My favourite Canadian heroine is Nellie McClung. She fought for all the rights we Canadian women now take for granted, at a time when to do so was a huge personal and social risk."

heroines book 100 Canadian Heroines profiles some remarkable women, from the adventurous Gudridur the Viking to murdered Mi'kmaq activist Anna Mae Aquash. You'll meet heroines in science, sport, preaching and teaching, politics, war and peace, arts and entertainment, etc. The book is full of amazing facts and fascinating trivia about intriguing figures like mountaineer Phyllis Munday, activist Hide Shimizu, Arctic guide Tookoolito, unionist Lia Roback, sexy movie mogul Mary Pickford and singer Portia White.

Great quotes and photos are featured in this inspiring collection.

ISBN: 1-5502-514-7
$24.99 (paper), 288 pages
Available in bookstores everywhere

November 2005 Contest

The winner of our Monthly Contest for November 2005 was Nancy Wannamaker of Whitby, Ontario. Nancy won a copy of the book Finding My Talk: How Fourteen Canadian Native Women Reclaimed Their Lives After Residential School by author Agnes Grant.

Finding My Talk coverThis moving book was written by Dr. Agnes Grant, who was involved with Brandon University's Native Teacher Training programs for about three decades. Her publication tells the stories of a variety of women who attended residential schools or had notable experiences with them. The book includes biographies of Rita Joe (Mi'kmaq poet and writer from Nova Scotia), Doris Pratt (Educator from Dakota, Manitoba), Eleanor Brass (Saskatchewan journalist, Plains Cree), Inuit writer Alice French from the Northwest Territories, Edith Dalla Costa (school counsellor from Alberta, Woodland Cree), Sara Sabourin (Ojibway community worker from Ontario) and Shirley Sterling (storyteller from B.C., Nlakapmux).

Non-fiction book
Written by Agnes Grant
Fifth House, 2004
ISBN: 1894856570
Paper, 224 pages

December 2005 Contest

Herstory calendarThe winner of our Monthly Contest for December 2005 was Lori McLean of Moose Mountain, New Brunswick. Lori won a copy of the desk calendar calendar Herstory 2006: The Canadian Women's Calendar, which profiles a wide variety of notable Canadian women. Stories to inspire you throughout the year!

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