Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Nominating Women as Canadian Historic Persons

In Canada, the Historic Sites and Monument Board designates certain Canadian persons, events and sites as 'historic'. Few women & few women's history events or sites have been designated so far.

"...any provincial or territorial figure of significance prior to the entry of the province or territory, in which the individual is active, into Confederation may be considered to be of national significance: but, post-Confederation figures who are of provincial or territorial significance must be proven to be of historic significance on the national scale, if they are to merit federal commemoration." [ quoted from Parks Canada, November 1990 guideline: http://www.pc.gc.ca/clmhc-hsmbc/crit/crit4_E.asp ]

A person (or persons) or the group they represent should have "made an outstanding and lasting contribution to Canadian history", while an event should represent "a defining action, episode, movement, or experience in Canadian history". [quoted from Parks Canada, http://www.pc.gc.ca/clmhc-hsmbc/crit/crit1_E.asp ]

With some exceptions, individuals nominated must have been dead twenty-five years, and events need to have taken place at least forty years ago.

So far, in British Columbia, where I live, only two women have been so designated---Emily Carr in 1950 and Helen Gregory MacGill, designated in 1998.

Several other B.C. women have recently been nominated: Susan B. Allison, early white settler in the Okanagan/Similkameen areas, Elsie Gregory MacGill, aeronautical engineer, Mary Ellen Smith, politician, Margaret Rose (Madge) Watt, Metchosin Women's Institute, founder of the Women's Institutes in England and founder of the Associated Country Women of the World.

For more information about the Canadian women who have been designated,
see Parks Canada's "Sites, Persons & Events in Women's History" at:

If you know of someone you feel should be designated, or if you belong to a group which would like to nominate someone, check the Historic Sites and Monuments Board website for information. There is a good explanation of the details you will need at:

You might also like to ask other related groups or individuals for assistance with your application or for support for your nominations, for example, the British Columbia Historical Federation, the Women's History Network of British Columbia, or local historical, heritage or civic/municipal associations.

British Columbia Historical Federation www.bchistory.ca
Women's History Network of B.C. www.members.shaw.ca/whnbc

For more on-line about the four women recently nominated from British Columbia, see:

Susan B. Allison: "A Wild Free Life" by Maggie Pickering (PDF)

Elsie Gregory MacGill: "Canadian Women in Science", Library & Archives Canada

Mary Ellen Smith: "Then & Now: Women in Canadian Legislatures"

Margaret Rose (Madge) Watt: "A Canadian Woman of the 20th Century Who Has Made a Difference " by Rose Fenner

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