"In life, the greatest thing is to have challenges, no?"
An 1899 commentator suggested that "Muscular capacity in women is almost evidence of disease." Nearly a century later, Canadian women athletes can still anticipate headlines like the one describing Olympic medalist Silken Laumann (Herstory 1994) as "Too pretty to row;" but in the interim, Canadian women have more than proven their competitive spirit and athletic abilities. Herstory has documented their achievements, from Olympic gold-medalist Petra Burka (Herstory 197
6), the first woman figure skater to attempt a triple salchow in competition; champions Susan Nattrass (trapshooting; Herstory 1980) and Vera Pezer (curling; Herstory 1976); through lesser-known triumphs like that of Jennie
Dill (Herstory 1980), who, in winning a 1921 race, walked the 3,650 miles between Halifax and Vancouver in 134 days and crossed the finish line looking "as if she had been on a picnic." When Jennie started the walk in Halifax, it was amid predi
ctions that no woman could hike further than Truro, 50 miles away.
Sharon Wood (Herstory 1989), first North American woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, echoed the experience of many women athletes:
I went beyond where I'd gone before, pushed harder, reached deeper than I've ever had to do and I still had something left. It makes you wonder what our limits really are.
According to a 1970 study, eighty-seven percent of Canadian
sports stories are about male athletes, "a striking
anomaly...since...Canadian women have always done better than men in
(Canada's Sporting Heroes)