E. Cora Hind is remembered as a pioneer leader in Manitoba, both in journalism, where she created a place for herself in a male-dominated environment, and in supporting the rights of women, where she used her prestige in the community to lobby for social change.
Ella Cora Hind was born in Toronto in 1861. In 1882, she moved with her aunt to Winnipeg. She had harboured ambitions of becoming a journalist, but after repeated rejections from the editors of the Manitoba Free Press, trained as a legal secretary. After a brief career with a law firm, she established her own business in 1893, becoming the province's first public stenographer or "typewriter."
All her life, Hind had been fascinated with agriculture. In 1901, soon after the appointment of J.W. Dafoe as the editor of the Free Press, Hind became a regular reporter and the Commercial and Agricultural Editor of the paper. Over the next decade, she gained an international reputation for the accuracy of her analyses of crop yields, livestock breeding and food production and marketing. Although she developed a large number of regional correspondents who helped her collect crop data, she herself travelled a great deal in the country in her crop surveys. For example, in 1924, she reported travelling over 10,000 km on her field inspection tour.
Cora Hind's commitment to agriculture and journalism was matched by her dedication to social reform, and especially the promotion of women's rights. She was an active worker in the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and was a founding member of the Manitoba Equal Franchise Club, a group formed to lobby for the vote in 1894, and of the Winnipeg chapter of the Canadian Women's Press Club.
Although these early feminist efforts were rebuffed, Hind continued to work for the advancement of the rights of women, and in the 1890s she worked with Dr. Ameila Yeomans for factory and prison reform, using her position as a journalist to call for progressive change.
Hind recognized the importance of organizing rural women, and she was deeply involved with Lillian Beynon Thomas and Nellie McClung in the promotion of Women's Institutes in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In 1912, she was a founding member of the Political Equality League, which played a central role in the campaign which led to the granting of full female suffrage in Manitoba in 1916.
Like many progressive reformers of her day, Hind was unable to reconcile her suffragist egalitarianism with her nativist tendencies. During the First World War, she increasingly showed her disdain for immigrant communities. She felt that the "foreign peril" could only be combatted by active campaigns to assimilate children of non-British ancestry to the Canadian way of life.
Despite these contradictions, Hind is remembered as a tireless advocate for average women. Reflecting on her own career, she wrote:
The usual statement is that I am a remarkable woman because I can do it; the implication is that the average women is too dumb to succeed at a man's task - and I resent that implication, for it is false.
Ella Cora Hind (1861-1942)
Page revised: 23 August 2009