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Agnes Macphail
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Politician
    (March 24, 1890-February 13, 1954)
    Born in Proton Township, Grey County, Ontario , Canada
    First female Minister of Parliament in Canadian House of Commons (Grey Southeast, 1921–1935; Grey-Bruce, 1935–1940)
    Member of Ontario Provincial Parliament (York East, 1943–1951)
    Co-founder of Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (forerunner of New Democratic Party)
    Her name was spelled ‘McPhail’ on her birth certificate.
    She was more at home helping with the livestock than the housework — which made it ironic that she wanted to have a career outside farming.
    She opposed the Royal Military College, claiming it promoted snobbery and provided a cheap education for the sons of the rich.
    Although a pacifist, she voted in favor of Canada’s involvement in the Second World War (‘no opposition to Hitler seemed more terrible than even war’).
    Having lost her Parliamentary seat in 1940, she would struggle to make ends meet for the next few years.
    Louis Saint-Laurent was set to offer her a Senate seat prior to her death.
    Among her many newspaper contributions, mostly in the Grey County press, were pieces in the Farmer’s Sun about rural Ontario living.
    She was never part of a Liberal or Conservative caucus.
    She opposed the glorification of war and the empire.
    She was a supporter of the Famous Five petitioners (which included close friend Nellie McClung).
    Before losing her provincial seat in 1951, she had achieved the passing of Ontario’s equal-pay legislation.
    A public school in Scarborough was named in her honor (1981).
    She appeared alongside three male figures on the ‘Canada 150’ edition of the $10 note.

Credit: Cool It All Right?


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