Outstanding Canadian women
from the University of Toronto. She worked on Banting and Best’s diabetes research and later conducted a benchmark study on diabetes in the First Nations peoples of Saskatchewan. Chase joined the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps and spent three years shuttling back and forth across the Atlantic on troop ships. After the war, she was a founder of the Canadian Diabetes Association.
Mary Black of Wolfville trained as a ward occupation aide at McGill in 1919. Her first assignment was at the Nova Scotia Sanitorium in Kentville. Black likely developed the first occupational therapy program in Canada. In 1942, she organized a successful province wide handcraft program. A master weaver, her book on the subject went through three editions.
Called “Queen of the Girl Runners,” Gertrude Phinney was selected for the 1928 Olympic team but her father would not allow her to go because the competition was deemed too strenuous. Born in Lawrencetown, Phinney was a star athlete in Wolfville. In just three years, she won over 40 gold medals and later became one of the first two women inducted into the N.S. Sports Hall of Fame.
Esther Clark Wright, who died in 1990, was a pioneer in Canadian studies, including the Loyalists, the Planters, and the economics of the Maritimes. A generous person by nature, her studies of geography in this region are still important. She also taught economics and sociology at Acadia.
Constance Hayward’s humanitarianism influenced Canada’s immigration and refugee policies during and after the Second World War. Until her retirement in 1958, she worked with immigrants and Canadian minority groups. Hayward died in Wolfville in 1992.
In 1946, Gladys Porter was the first woman in Nova Scotia history to run for the mayoralty of any town. Porter beat her male opponent by a two-to-one margin. She was re-elected, serving for 11 years. In 1960, she became the first female MLA in the Maritimes, representing Kings North.
A renowned basket maker, Chief Rita Smith was the mother of the Glooscap Band in 1984, but she was also chief of the Annapolis Valley Band for three terms and a Mi’kmaq who sought justice. She was a founding Chief of the Confederacy of Mainland Micmacs.
A teacher and community leader, Edith H. Cromwell of Inglewood, Annapolis County paved the way for race-equity in education when she successfully lobbied for her students to be bussed to Bridgetown, so they could reap the benefits of its better-funded education system. She was an Order of Nova Scotia beneficiary, and the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Acadia University.
All are worth remembering.