Although the poll contained 12 questions, there was only one that referred to the pre-20th century period. Many argue it is then that most of Canada’s extraordinary and inspiring women lived. Let’s deep dive into that era and explore some fascinating and impactful women of Canada.
A Vastly Unexplored Area
Not many courses on the history of women cover all periods, but Donica’s course on women’s history at the University of Regina does. There, one can learn about women like Aataentsic – a woman who falls from the sky and creates humankind according to the Wendat legend.
This course also covers historic figures like Madame de La Tour. She was an Acadian woman who courageously fought to defend her fort from French powers and died in battle in 1645. A century later, in 1760, Esther Wheelwright, who lived in the Wabanaki, became Mother Superior of the Quebec Ursulines.
Bravery and Courage Best Describe Canada’s Women
On your journey through Canada’s women’s history, you can’t miss Isobel Gunn. She was a cross-dressing fur trader who went by the name of John Fubbister, and in 1896-07, she canoed her way through the northwestern interior.
An Unusual Woman
Marie-Josèphe dite Angélique is largely considered to be one of the most significant women in Canadian history. She was a Black woman and a slave living in 18th century Montréal. All three of her children died in infancy, and she was brave enough to speak out against the cruelty of her owner. Angélique was originally from Portugal and attempted to go back there unsuccessfully.
Unfortunately, the government of New France accused her in 1734 of starting a fire that allegedly burned half the city down. Angélique was tried, hanged, strangled, and executed, according to the king’s scribe. But her memory, along with the others, should and hopefully will live on forever.