A Guide to Women in Canadian History

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Keep checking back as we add more films, videos and radio clips about women in Canadian history to this list.

After the Montreal Massacre
Rogers, Gerry (Director). National Film Board, 1990. 27 minutes. A documentary about the tragic 1989 massacre of female students at an engineering school in Montreal, where they were targeted by an anti-feminist.

Agnes Macphail (Historica Minute)
A one-minute video about politician Agnes Macphail, from Historica. Watch online.

Barbara Frum
The last word: Mordecai Richler with Barbara Frum. An interview from CBC Digital Archives; watch online (after ads).

Barbara Frum
Barbara Frum: Lone Woman among women. An interview with CBC Digital Archives; watch online (after ads).

Black Mother, Black Daughter
Film by Sylvia Hamilton explores the lives and times of black women in Nova Scotia. Watch the complete 29-minute video on the National Film Board website.

La Bolduc (Historica Minute)
A one-minute video about singer Mary Travers-Bolduc, from Historica. Watch online.

Buffy Sainte-Marie: a portrait in the first person
Citytv video in association with Sleeping Giant Productions and TV Ontario, n.d. Moses Znaimer interview with Buffy Saint-Marie.

Buffy Sainte-Marie, Up Where We Belong
CBC Home Video, c. 1996. 47 min. Distributed by Astral Video. Includes performances by Buffy Sainte-Marie and guests, as well as interview segments.

Butterbox Babies
Don McBrearty (Director). Sullivan Entertainment, 1995. 94 min.
A television movie based on the true story of a Nova Scotia couple, Lila and William Young, who operated the Ideal Maternity Home for unwed mothers during the 1930s and 1940s. Many babies were sold to desperate couples wanting to adopt, while other babies died to lack of care and were buried in butter boxes or open graves. Features actors Susan Clark, Peter MacNeill, Catherine Fitch and Michael Riley.

Canadian Girls
A music video by Dean Brody, celebrating Canadian Girls. From YouTube. Canadian Girls video

Canadian Women of Courage
A series of five one-hour VHS videos, featuring the true stories of some Canadian women in World War II. User can purchase the series or individual videos:
Nurses on the Battlefield
Eyewitness to War
Rescue from Sumatra
A Time for Courage
Showtime at the Front

Careers and Cradles
National Film Board of Canada, 1947. 11 min.
Documents improvements in the status of women, greater roles in various fields.

Celebration at Big Sur
20th Century Fox, 1971. 90 minutes. Produced by Carl Gottlieb.
A musical documentary about the 1969 Big Sur Folk Festival, featuring performances by Canadian singer Joni Mitchell.

The Country Doctor
King, Henry (Director). Twentieith Century Fox, 1936. 94 minutes. Docudrama focusing on Dr. All Dafoe and his involvement with the Dionne Quintuplets.

Dionne Quintuplets
Listen to a CBC Radio clip about the Dionne Quintuplets, broadcast May 28, 1936. From the CBC Archives.

Dionne Quintuplets
Brittain, Donald (Director). National Film Board and CBC co-production, 1978. 88 minutes.

The Dionne Quintuplets
Harper, Ray (Director). National Film Board and Access Network co-production, 1989. 1 hr. 30 minutes.

Dionne Quintuplets Born
Watch a Universal Newspaper Newsreel about the birth of the Dionne Quintuplets. From the University of Virginia website.

Dionne Quintuplet Dolls
84 minutes. Documentary re the official Dionne Quintuplet Dolls manufactured by the Alexander Doll Company.

Dionne Quintuplets Newsreel, 1953.
YouTube video.

Julie PayetteDiscovering Our Potential: Women in Engineering
Streetwise Productions video, 1997. 27 min. Available from Moving Images Distribution. The film explores the non-traditional careers pursued by some interesting female engineers, including Canadian astronaut Julie Payette.

Emily Carr (Historica Minute)
A one-minute video about artist Emily Carr, from Historica. Watch online.

Emily Carr dies in Victoria
1945 radio clip from CBC Archives.

Emily Murphy (Historica Minute)
A one-minute video about magistrate Emily Murphy, from Historica. Watch online.

The Fire that Burns: The Life and Work of Sister Elaine MacInnes
Pryor, Hilary (Executive Director). The May Street Group, 2005. 60 minutes. Documentary film about an extraordinary Canadian nun. Sister Elaine MacInnes is a talented musician and missionary, and an activist who has been introducing meditation in prisons.

Five of a Kind
Leeds, Herbert I (Director). 20th Century Fox, 1938. 85 minutes. Feature film about the Dionne Quintuplets.

History Channel - Speeches - Allan Roy Dafoe, Canadian Doctor
Listen to a short speech given by Dr. Dafoe about the Dionne Quintuplets. From The History Channel.

Hooray for Love
Watch Canadian actress and singer Jeni Le Gon in a movie clip from Horray for Love, 1935. YouTube.

How They Saw Us: Proudly She Marches
National Film Board of Canada, 1943. 18 min. 27s.
A recruitment film for women in World War II.

How They Saw Us: Wings on Her Shoulder
National Film Board of Canada, 1943. 11 min. 07s.
A recruitment film for women in World War II, focusing on the notion that women should accept support positions so that "men may fly".

Jeni LeGon: Living in a Big Way
National Film Board of Canada, 1999. 48 min. Available from NFB. This film profiles the life of Canadian dancer, actress and dance instructor Jeni LeGon. Born in Chicago in 1916, she eventually settled in Vancouver. The production shows the challenges Jeni faced as a black performer. Review from CM Magazine.

Jennie Trout (Historica Minute)
A one-minute video about pioneer doctor Jennie Trout, from Historica. Watch online.

Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind
PBS documentary, 2003. 90 minutes. Now available on DVD.
Video clips of interviews with Canadian singer Joni Mitchell, as well as David Crosby and Elliot Roberts.

Kim Campbell: through the looking glass
Jones, Michel (Director). National Film Board, video produced c. 2000. 71 min. A review of the film from the Canadian Review of Materials, Manitoba Library Association.

The Last Waltz
Rhino/Warner Bros. Records, 1978. Directed by Martin Scorsese.
A rock movie filmed during the 1976 farewell concert of 'The Band'. Features performances of rock legends like Canadian singer Joni Mitchell, as well as Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr. Now available as a 4-CD set.

Laura Secord (Historica Minute)
A one-minute video about patriotic pioneer Laura Secord, from Historica. Watch online.

Love and War: Canadian War Brides.
9 television clips and 11 radio clips from CBC Digital Archives.

Lucille Teasdale (Historica Minute)
A one-minute video about surgeon and humanitarian Lucille Teasdale, from Historica. Watch online.

Lucy Maud Montgomery
A clip about the famous author Lucy Maud Montgomery, from the CBC Digital Archives.

Lynne Johnston
A short interview with the cartoonist who created the comic strip For Better or For Worse.

Marion Orr (Historica Minute)
A one-minute video about pilot Marion Orr, from Historica. Watch online.

Marker of Change: The Story of the Women's Monument
Millar, Morgan & The May Street Group, 1998. 48 min. A documentary about the Vancouver feminists who decided to build a monument dedicated to the women murdered in the Montreal Massacre on December 6, 1989. The film chronicles the challenges faced by the women in this controversial project. Available from Moving Images.

Me and the Mosque
A full-length NFB documentary about Canadian Muslim women, released in 2005. 52 min. Directed by Zarqa Nawaz. Available online.

The Medicine Wheel
Broadcast on BCTV. 25 min. A film about First Nations spirituality, told by a Cree woman from Manitoba. Available from Motion Visual. Site includes a film clip.

Midwife (Historica Minute)
A one-minute video about the historical roles played by midwifes in Canada, from Historica. Watch online.

Million Dollar Babies: The Shocking Story of the Dionne Quintuplets
Duguay, Christian (Director). CBC/CBS, 1994. 200 minutes. Made-for-television drama, featuring Beau Bridges and Kate Nelligan. Read an interesting paper by Mary Vipond called The Million Dollar Babies and the Media.

Mona Parsons (Historica Minute)
A one-minute video about World War II heroines, from Historica. Watch online.

Motherland: Tales of Wonder
National Film Board of Canada, 1994. 89 min. 45s.
Documentary re the experience of motherhood in North America, featuring interviews with seven mothers and archival footage.

Native Women: Politics
Broadcast on Global TV. 24min.
A moving film about the role of First Nations women in Canada, including historical segments. Available from Motion Visual. Film clip on YouTube.

Nellie McClung (Historica Minute)
A one-minute video about activist Nellie McClung, from Historica. Watch online.

No Man's Land
The War Amps of Canada, 1988. 27min.
The story of Canadian artist Mary Ritter Hamilton and her work on the battlefields of Europe after World War I.

Obachan's Garden Obachan's Garden
National Film Board of Canada, 94 minutes.
The video tells the story of a Japanese "picture bride". 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.

On Every Front: Canadian Women in the Second World War.
7 television clips and 15 radio clips from CBC Digital Archives

Pauline Vanier (Historica Minute)
A one-minute video about humanitarian Pauline Vanier, from Historica. Watch online.

Portia White: Think On Me
Sylvia Hamilton production , 2000. 50 min. A documentary about the talented Portia White, a Nova Scotia singer who became famous in the 1940s. Available from Moving Images.

Prairie Women
National Film Board of Canada, 1987. 45 min. 07s
Directed by Barbara Evans, this film documents the struggles of prairie women in the 1900s to improve the world around them. History of farm women's movement in Canada.

2002. A documentary about modern Canadian cowgirls, featuring five profiles of women such as barrel racer Monica Wilson. Produced by Lorna Thomas Productions and Trick Rider Productions for Global Television. Available from Lorna Thomas Productions.

Tourgog, Norman (Director).
Twentieth Century Fox, 1936. 80 minutes. A reunion of the Dionne Quintuplets.

Roberta Bondar (video)
1995 CityTV production, 30 min. Part of the series The Originals: portraits in the first person. Distributed by Marlin Motion Pictures.

Rosies of the North
National Film Board of Canada, 1999. 48 min.
An excellent film that tells the story of Canadian women who built Hawker Hurricane fighter planes during the Second World War.

Rural Teacher (Historica Minute)
A one-minute video about school teacher Kate Henderson and a famous Canadian painting, from Historica. Watch online.

Sisters in the Wilderness
A CBC documentary about the famous Canadian pioneers Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill. Broadcast on Feb. 26, 2004.

A Song for Quebec
National Film Board,1991. 55 min.
Videorecording from the series True North. Documents the lives and love affair of singer Pauline Julien and poet Gerald Godin in Quebec's Quiet Revolution, and their involvement in the independence movement in Quebec.

Speak It! From the Heart of Black Nova Scotia
A documentary from Sylvia Hamilton. National Film Board of Canada, 1992. 29 min. Complete video available online.

A sunshine melody: Joni Mitchell
Watch a CBC video clip of Joni Mitchell from a broadcast on May 1, 1967. From the Archives of CBC Television.

The Sterilization of Leilani Muir
National Film Board of Canada, 1996. 46 min. 56s.
The story of Leilani Muir, who was sterilized by the Alberta government in 1959 after being declared a "moron". The victim only learned about the true nature of her surgery after she was married and discovered she could not become pregnant. History of eugenics.

Under the Willow Tree: Pioneer Chinese Women in Canada
National Film Board of Canada, 1997. 51 min.
The stories of early Chinese women in Canada.

Wanted! Doctor on Horseback
National Film Board of Canada, 1996. 48 min.
A documentary about Dr. Mary Percy, a pioneer doctor from England who arrived in Alberta in 1929.

War Brides: From Romance to Reality
Kiss the Bride Productions, 2001. 50 min.
The experiences of five British women who married Canadian servicemen during World War II and emigrated to Canada. Watch clip on YouTube.

And We Knew How to Dance: Women in World War I
National Film Board of Canada, 1993. 55 min.
The involvement of some extraordinary Canadian women in World War I.

Winds of Heaven: Emily Carr, Carvers & The Spirits of The Forest
Film by Michael Ostroff, White Pine Pictures, 2010. Watch clip on YouTube.

Wonderstruck (video)
1993 CBC production about astronaut Roberta Bondar in space, 24 min. Toronto: CBC International Sales. Distributed by Medianet.

Women are Warriors,
from the National Film Board. 14 min. Directed by Jane Marsh, 1942. Watch complete film online.

Women at War, from Veterans Affairs Canada.

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