Herstory: An Exhibition

"I was planning for medicine, not marriage..."

Image of Wynn McCallum
Wynn McCallum
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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.
(Jennie Smillie Robertson)

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