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Agnes Macphail

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Picture of Agnes Macphail first Canadian woman member of parliament

Agnes Macphail

Yousuf Karsh / Library and Archives Canada / PA-165870

About Agnes Macphail:

Agnes Macphail was the first Canadian woman to be a member of parliament, and one of the first two women elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Considered a feminist in her time, Agnes Macphail supported issues like prison reform, disarmament, international cooperation and old age pensions. Agnes Macphail also founded the Elizabeth Fry Society of Canada, a group working with and for women in the justice system.

Birth:

March 24, 1890 in Proton Township, Grey County, Ontario

Death:

February 13, 1954 in Toronto, Ontario

Education:

Teachers college - Stratford, Ontario

Profession:

Teacher and columnist

Political Parties:

  • Progressive Party
  • Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF)

Federal Ridings (Electoral Districts):

  • Grey South East
  • Grey Bruce

Provincial Riding (Electoral District):

York East

Political Career of Agnes Macphail:

  • Agnes Macphail was elected to the House of Commons in 1921, in the first Canadian federal election in which women had the vote or could run for office. Agnes Macphail was the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons.

  • Agnes Macphail was the first woman appointed as a member of a Canadian delegation to the League of Nations, where she was an active member of the World Disarmament Committee.

  • Agnes Macphail became the first president of the Ontario CCF when it was established in 1932.

  • Agnes Macphail was a major influence in the establishment of the Archambault Commission on prison reform in 1935.

  • She was defeated in the 1940 general election.

  • Agnes Macphail wrote a column on agriculture issues for the "Globe and Mail."

  • She was first elected to the Ontario Legislative Assembly in 1943, becoming one of the two first women to be elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

  • She was defeated in the Ontario election in 1945.

  • Agnes Macphail was re-elected to the Ontario Legislative Assembly in 1948.

  • Agnes Macphail contributed to the adoption of Ontario's first equal pay legislation in 1951.

See also: 10 Firsts for Canadian Women in Government

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