BADASS WOMEN OF THE MARITIMES
This list could be virtually unending, as the number of Maritime women who have changed the way things are done today or have positively represented the female population of Canada, could go on forever. Check out this list of inspiring, badass women who started their journeys on Maritime soil.
- •Rose Fortune (1764-1864)Annapolis Royal, N.S.: Born in the states during the American Revolution, Rose, a black Loyalist, emigrated with her family at the age of 10 to Annapolis Royal, N.S. Not only did she start two profitable businesses, moving baggage from ships to hotels or houses on her wheelbarrow and a wake-up service for travellers, she is considered Canada’s first policewoman, imposing curfews in the area and walking the wharves. She was recently announced the namesake of the Bay of Fundy ferry, MV Fundy Rose.
- •Ellen Page (1987- )Halifax, N.S: After growing up in Nova Scotia, Ellen has cultivated a successful acting career. She inspired many when she came out in her speech at the Human Right’s Campaign “Time to Thrive” conference in 2014.
- •Sara Corning (1872-1969)Cheggogin, N.S: Sara joined the American Red Cross as a nurse during the war in 1921 and travelled to the Ottoman Empire to help in the relief effort for those effected by the Turkish massacres. In 1922, Sara delivered to safety more than 5000 orphaned Armenian and Greek children from the looting of Turkish soldiers in Smyrna. Sara established an orphanage in Greece and was honoured soon after by King George II of Greece with the Silver Cross Order of the Saviour.
- •Dr. Carrie Best (1903 – 2001)New Glasgow, N.S.: Carrie was an author, a poet, a radio host, a civil rights pioneer and a journalist who started the first black-owned and black-published newspaper in Nova Scotia, The Clarion. There, she broke and covered extensively the story of Viola Desmond. She was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1975 and received many other awards and honours in her life. She even has her own Canada Post stamp!
- •Anne Murray (1945-)Springhill, N.S.: Anne received international success and became the first female Canadian solo artist to reach number one on the American charts and the first to earn a Gold record in 1970 for her legendary song, “Snowbird.” She is certainly a trailblazer for women in Canadian music.
- •Viola Desmond (1914-1965)Halifax, N.S.: Viola is remembered best as a black business-woman and civil rights activist who fought racial segregation when she wouldn’t leave the “whites only” section of a movie theatre in New Glasgow in 1946. She was one of the first to start the civil rights movement in Canada, acting nine years before Rosa Parks, to whom she’s often compared.
- •Elizabeth (Bessie) Pritchard Hall (1849-1935)Granville Ferry, N.S.: On March 24, 1870, Bessie was forced to captain the 1444-ton ship, the Rothesay, when many of its crew members deserted, then many others came down with the smallpox, including the captain, her father. The full voyage from Florida to Liverpool took 49 days and Bessie is now thought to be the first woman to captain a ship on the Atlantic.
- •Mona Louise Parsons (1901-1976)Middleton, N.S:, Mona moved to New York in the 1920s to become an actress. She later became a nurse and travelled to Holland where she saved many downed Allied airmen in a resistance unit. Once arrested for the act, she was imprisoned and sentenced to death until she appealed the sentence and instead received life in prison. Mona escaped from her place of imprisonment and eventually returned to Nova Scotia in 1957. Mona is believed to be the only Canadian woman to be imprisoned by the Ge
- •Marie-Henriette Lejeune Ross (1762-1860)Known in Acadian legend and Nova Scotian history as “Granny Ross,” Marie-Henriette was a midwife who spent a great deal of her life in Nova Scotia. She is said to have used medicinal plants to heal during the smallpox epidemic and was sought out from people all over. The magic and stories of her life were passed down to later generations. Because of her work with medicinal plants, there’s a chance she was one of the first female Canadian scientists.
- •Molly Kool (1916-2009)Alma, N.B.: Myrtle, better known as Molly, became the first registered female North American sea captain in 1939 and the second in the world to hold the title. When she graduated she sent a telegram home saying, “Call me captain from now on.”
- •Martha Hamm Lewis (1831-1892)Moncton, N.B.: After much convincing and pleading her case in a letter to the lieutenant governor of N.B., Martha was the first woman to be admitted into a teaching school in Saint John. Though there were many conditions to her attendance to avoid “distracting” the men, she became an inspiration for women to strive for education. Only a few years after her time spent at the school, half of the student population was female.
- •Julia Catherine Beckwith Hart (1796-1867)Fredericton, N.B.: In 1824, Julia became the first Canadian to be a published author with her novel, St. Ursula’s Convent, or, The Nun of Canada: Containing Scenes from Real life. Though she published the work of fiction at 28-years-old, she was only 17 when she originally wrote the book. There are only four known copies left of the novel today.
- •Catherine Callbeck (1939-)Central Bedeque, P.E.I: Catherine is a woman with a trailblazing career of “firsts” behind her. Not only was she the first woman to be elected premier in a general election and the second female premier in Canada, she was the first female premier of P.E.I., often the only woman in her commerce classes in university and a successful business woman to boot.
- •Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942)New London, P.E.I.: Lucy Maud was a brilliant teacher who created our favourite little redhead, Anne of Green Gables in 1905 (published in 1908). She was one of the first women of her time to strive for higher education when she studied briefly at Dalhousie University. Lucy Maud loved P.E.I. so much that only one of her novels is set off-Island. Though she endured many trials and tribulations throughout her life, she went on to sell millions of books, printed in dozens of languages.
- •Heather Moyse (1978-)Summerside, P.E.I.: Heather is a two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner in bobsledding. Incredibly, her first Olympic experience came after hopping into a bobsled for the first time only four months prior. Her team placed fourth, but when she returned in 2010 and 2014, her drive helped them take home Gold. She was part of the first women’s bobsled team to successfully defend their title at the Olympics.