"I was planning for medicine, not marriage..."
Though women always had most of the responsibility for health care in
family and community, the right to qualify for the medical profession was
long in coming. In the 1850s Canada's first woman doctor--James
Miranda Barry (Herstory 1990)--worked disguised as a man. By
1883, Emily Stowe (Herstory 1974), Canada's first practising female physician, had received her
license, and her daughter, Augusta Stowe-Gullen (Herstory
1974), had become the first female graduate in medicine from a Canadian university. Since then
women have moved steadily into the profession. Some of the many women
marking these milestones in Herstory's pages have been Ethel
Johns (Herstory 1980), nurse and campaigner for nurses' rights;
surgeon Jennie Smillie Robertson (Herstory 1987), who helped found a hospital in
order to gain operating privileges; Myra Grimsley Bennet
(Herstory 1975), Newfoundland nurse in the 1920s; Frances McGill (Herstory 1987), forensic
pathologist in Manitoba and the legendary Elizabeth Cass (Herstory 1990), first resident
ophthalmologist in the Northwest Territories.
I first met the man I was to marry many years later, in 1898,
while I was teaching. At that time I was planning for medicine, not
marriage, and didn't think I could have both.