Welcome to The Great Canadian Blog Bash! I’m delighted to be participating in this party again this year. Last year, I shared some of my favourite Canadian authors. This year, I thought I’d share some remarkable Canadian women and why they inspire me.
Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill
Like Jane Austen, these two sisters were writers in England in the 1800s. They both married late in their lives and then, with their husbands, immigrated to Canada searching for a better life. However, life here was not as easy as they expected. Both women turned to writing again to help support their families, despite the fact that the publishing industry in Canada was just starting out and never paid them much money.
Susanna had five children and lived to the age of 82, while Catharine had seven children and died at age 97. Both were celebrated in Canada during their lifetimes and wrote prolifically.
For more about the sisters, check out Charlotte Grey’s excellent biography. For me, their relationship as sisters during their struggles in Canada is beautiful and touching. I’m also impressed by their persistence and creativity in homesteading in Canada while raising large families.
Charlotte Small Thompson
Charlotte, daughter of a Cree mother and a Scottish fur trading father, married David Thompson in 1799 at the age of 14. She then followed him on his fur trading and exploring trips across Canada, from Saskatchewan to the Great Lakes to northern Alberta, and possibly even across the Rocky Mountains into Washington and Oregon when he made his final great push to find a trade route to the sea.
In 1812, David retired from the fur trade and moved with Charlotte and their children to eastern Canada. Like Susanna and Catharine, they did not have an easy life there; David was often unable to find work and was never recognized during his lifetime for his great achievements. Unlike Susanna and Catharine, who wrote about everything that happened to them, Charlotte left nothing behind about herself and even David’s extensive journals record very little about her.
They had thirteen children and were married for nearly sixty years. Despite the fact that Charlotte was fifteen years younger than David, she died within a few months of him. I’m inspired by her enduring relationship with David and by the fact that she saw way more of Canada, two hundred years ago via boat and foot, than I have seen today with the marvels of modern transportation.
Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys
Marguerite was born in France in 1620, the sixth of twelve children, and lost her mother while she was in her teens. She helped raise her younger siblings before joining the Congregation of Troyes, helping to teach poor children who couldn’t attend regular school. In 1653, she traveled to New France to open a school for children there.
Marguerite taught young women not only reading, writing and arithmetic, but also household skills. She soon came to realize she needed help and recruited more young women from France, establishing an uncloistered order of teaching sisters known as the Congregation of Notre Dame. By Marguerite’s death in 1700, sisters of her order were teaching in most cities in New France. She was canonized in 1982. I find her story inspiring because she was clearly a deeply spiritual woman, yet also a deeply practical one who responded to the needs of her time.
Laura Beatrice Berton
Laura is the mother of the well-known Canadian author Pierre Berton. She is also an author and her biography, I Married the Klondike, is an amusing and inspiring book about her life in northern Canada in the early 1900s. Laura left her home in Toronto at age 29 for a teaching position in Dawson City. She stayed there for the next twenty-five years, marrying her husband Frank and raising a family. I love reading her book because, like the other women I’ve mentioned, she lived in a difficult place in a difficult time, yet she makes that life sound beautiful and charming.
What other Canadian women would you add to this list?
I would add Margaret Atwood – I love he work!
Thanks for taking part in #TGCBB
Thanks for this list..my reading has been non existent in the last few years.. I think I’ll make an effort to start again. Perhaps with one of your recos. Loved the personal insight into their lives!
Wow, thanks for sharing all these amazing ladies. Laura Secord, definitely! Thanks for participating in The Great Canadian Blog Bash and we are very happy to have you!
Thanks for sharing as I didn’t know some of them. I would have to say Laura Secord.
Thanks for sharing, I love discovering new facts about the Country in which I live.It is interesting the things I have learned surfing!! 🙂
I don’t think I’ve heard of any of these women either. Sad my knowledge of Canadian history is so pitiful! I can think of Canadian men, but they really didn’t focus much on strong Canadian women in my history class in high school.
I would add Dr. Emily Stowe to the list – first female canadian doctor; she wasn’t permitted to study medicine in Canada as a woman, so she got her license in the States http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Stowe
Yes, I actually found Dr. Stowe while I was researching for this list and thought about adding her, but decided to keep it to five people. Maybe for another list! I love the fact that she was so persistent about her education, despite the fact that she was twice denied admission to a university.
Truly inspiring women – thank you!
Thank you for dropping by! 🙂
Wow- love this list. Some of this women are new to me! Weird how we don’t learn about them in school. I am familiar with Parr Trail and Moodie- but that’s it 🙂
I learned about Parr Traill and Moodie in university (English class!). My mom or mother-in-law had Laura Berton’s book. The one that surprised me on this list is Charlotte Small, because I grew up hearing about her husband but never heard he had a wife.
Great list. I would add Roberta Bondar too!
Great post! I find it interesting that they had such big families back then. must have been fun to have all those siblings. my dad was the 6th boy and his oldest brother had already moved out when he was born lol
Yes, there were some big families back then (Charlotte’s in particular). My grandpa was the youngest of seven kids, but most of those kids only had one or two children themselves. I also think it must have been fun to have so many siblings to play with. 🙂
Thank you for celebrating some remarkable Canadian women. I always think that Dr. Roberta Bondar is a remarkable Canadian women: Canada’s first female astronaut in outer space.
Oooh, that’s a new name for me! I’ll have to check her out – she does sound fascinating. 🙂
Very interesting women! I have never heard of them, except for Pierre Burtons mother. It was interesting to read about them.
Well, I’m glad I could introduce you to some new women. I actually only learned about most of them recently (within the last four or five years) as well. 🙂
Awesome read. Very interesting. 🙂
WOW what a great feature! Hard to top that list, well done! Canadian woman ROCK, eh!
That’s right, we do! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed this list.
Oh, I love this post! Love learning more about Canadian women who have had an impact/left an impression on our country and have played a big role in our history.
I’m glad you learned more! I know this is only a small sampling of the many women who’ve left an impact on our country. 🙂
Sounds like great stories. I would like to learn more about Laura Berton.
I highly recommend her book! It’s a really fun read. You can see where her son got his writing talent from!
Madeleine de Vercheres
LOVE this gal…
Read, Madeleine Takes Command for some historical fiction about this young woman
Wow, that is a cool story! What a brave, quick-thinking young woman. I’ll have to look up that book. 🙂 Thanks!
Laura Secord was one we learned a lot about down in the Niagara region. She is not just the name sake of the chocolate and ice cream stores! I always admired her.
Yes, I also remember learning about Laura Secord last time I visited Ontario with my mom. Another brave woman who, like Madeleine, helped during a time of war. 🙂