A Guide to Women in Canadian History

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Canadian Illustrated News, Aug.7, 1880
.Time Travel
.This Month in
This Month in Canadian Herstory: September
  • September 7, 2019
    Tennis player Bianca Andreescu made history by becoming Canada's first-ever Grand Slam champion in singles. She defeated tennis legend Serena Williams at the US Open, gaining the distinction of being the first Canadian to win a major title. Andreescu, at the age of nineteen, is the first teenager to win a Major since Sharapova won the 2006 US Open. Bianca Andreescu was born in Mississauga, Ontario.

    Bianca Andreescu

  • Marilyn Bell
    Marilyn Bell
    (Canada's Sports Hall of Fame)
    September 9, 1954
    Sixteen-year-old Marilyn Bell became the first person to swim across Lake Ontario. The Toronto-born athlete swam 52 km during her 21 hours in the cold lake. Marilyn was competing in an organized event and was the surprise winner. When she finally crawled onto shore at the CNE ground in Toronto, Ontario, the young Canadian schoolgirl was cheered by a waiting crowd of about 100,000 people. Way to go Marilyn!

  • September 15, 1989
    Joan Pennefather was appointed as Governnment Film Commissioner and Chairperson of the National Film Board of Canada, becoming the first woman to hold these positions. Born in Montreal, Ms. Pennefather studied history and communications in Canada and abroad before joining the National Film Board in 1977. In 1992 she welcomed about 50 women from around the world to discuss strategies for improving the status of women in the media. In 1993 she received the Astral Award from Toronto Women in Film and Television, for "an outstanding contribution to the enhancement of the role and image of the women of Canada's film and television industry".

  • nurses voting
    Canadian Nursing Sisters voting at a Canadian Hospital in France in December, 1917.
    (National Archives of Canada PA-002279)
    September 20, 1917
    Some Canadian women were allowed to vote in federal elections, thanks to the Military Voters Act that gave the vote to women serving in the military - such as Nursing Sisters. With Royal Assent of the War-time Elections Act, women who were close relatives of men in the armed forces could also vote. You also had to be a British subject and over 21.
    Evolution of the Federal Franchise

  • September 23, 1992
    Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play professional hockey when she joined the men of Tampa Bay Lightning to play the St. Louis Blues. Born in Lac Beauport, Quebec, the Canadian athlete started playing hockey at the age of five and excelled at the sport.
    Watch a CBC television clip of Manon

    Manon Rheaume
    Manon Rheaume
    (Cover of a biography of Manon)

  • September 28, 1959
    Canada's National Ballet School was created in Toronto, operating in a former Quaker Meeting House at 111 Maitland Street. Founded by artistic director Celia Franca, the school was managed by Betty Oliphant. The school was first attended by 27 female, full-time students as well as others who came after school. Now recognized as one of the world's leading dance schools, the National Ballet School has trained such dancers as the famous Veronica Tennant and Karen Kain.
    Celia Franca
    Celia Franca dancing in "Giselle", 1956.
    (Ken Bell/Library and Archives Canada/PA-153947)

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