MHS Smarty Party: 20 October 2022

Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Firsts

This is a list of Manitobans who did things first.

Person

Year

First

Gerta Elisabeth Allison (1913-2006)

1957

First Manitoba woman to be certified as a psychiatrist

Frances Helen Brown Atwell (1923-2015)

1948

First black pharmacist in Manitoba

Gladys Doreen Benningen (1919-2001)

1965

First female councillor for the Rural Municipality of Victoria Beach

Elinor Frances Elizabeth Black (1905-1982)

1938

First Canadian woman member of the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Mary Margaret “Margery” Brooker (1901-1955)

1941

First Canadian woman to be appointed as a School Inspector

Helen Neilson Brown (1866-1907)

1885

First Manitoba woman to qualify for admission to the University of Manitoba

Sharon Carstairs

1984

First Manitoba woman to lead a major political party

Aileen Alexia Allingham Clarke (1881-1972)

1921

First Manitoba woman to serve as a Magistrate

Bernard Bronislaw Dubienski (1891-1981)

1918

First person of Polish ancestry to become a lawyer in Manitoba

Ruth Johanna Eden (1966-2021)

1988

First Manitoba woman to work as a highways engineer for the provincial government

Thelma Bessie Brown Forbes (1910-2012)

1963

First Manitoba woman to serve as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly

1966

First Manitoba woman to serve as a cabinet minister

Kathleen Georgina Morton “Kay” Gallaway (1913-1982)

1960

First Manitoba woman to become a certified public accountant

Esther E. Goossen (1920-1997)

1954

First woman from Steinbach to earn a PhD degree

Lillian Margaret Travers Hallonquist (1901-1985)

1962

First woman to serve as Acting Mayor of Winnipeg

Martha Jane Richards Hample (1859-1927)

1906

First woman to build a commercial block (Hample Building) in Winnipeg

Ella Cora Hind (1861-1942)

1901

First woman agricultural columnist with the Manitoba Free Press

Jessie Livingston Holmes (1867-1950)

1886

First female student admitted to Manitoba College and first woman to graduate from the University of Manitoba (1889)

Isabel Ross MacLean Hunt (1894-1990)

1953

First Manitoba woman to be appointed a Queen's Counsel

Olive Lillian Irvine (1895-1969)

1960

First woman from the prairies to be called to the Senate

Lee Edith Peddle Johnson (1901-1986)

1971

First woman member of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange

Margaret MacTavish Rogers Konantz (1899-1967)

1963

First Manitoba woman to serve as a Member of Parliament (MP)

Lillian Kowalchuk

1990

First woman in Manitoba to be certified as a plumber

C. Ruth Krindle

1970

First woman lawyer in Manitoba to serve as a prosecutor

1971

First woman lawyer in Manitoba to serve as a Crown attorney

1980

First woman in Manitoba to serve as a judge

Genevieve Elsie Alice Lipsett (1886-1935)

1918

First married woman to qualify for a law degree from the University of Manitoba

Josefina Asgerdur “Asa” Kristjansson MacDonell (1918-2020)

1970

First woman to administer a veterans hospital in Canada

Jessie Mackenzie Macrae Maclennan (1873-1942)

1937

First woman to chair the Management Committee of the Winnipeg School Board

Eileen Magill (1906-1964)

1928

First woman in Manitoba to hold a private pilot’s certificate

George William Maltby (c1915-1999)

1970

Manitoba's first ombudsman

Pearl Kathryne McGonigal

1981

First woman in Manitoba to serve as Lieutenant Governor

Mary McIlvride

1923

First woman in Manitoba to attend the Union of Manitoba Municipalities annual convention as a delegate

Frederick McKenzie (c1846-1888)

1884

First lawyer to be made a Queen's Counsel in Manitoba

Margaret Stovel McWilliams (1875-1952)

1919

First Manitoba woman to serve as President of the Canadian Federation of University Women

Marion Ironquill Meadmore

1978

First Indigenous woman in Manitoba called to the Manitoba Bar

Jessie Livingstone Holmes Munro (?-1950)

1889

First woman graduate from the University of Manitoba (Manitoba College)

Alice Edith Ostrander (1893-1970)

1918

First home teacher for the blind in Western Canada

Winifred Mar “Winnie” Paktong (1912-2013)

1912

First girl of Chinese ancestry born in Winnipeg

Caroline “Carrie” “Parkie” Parkinson (1874-1962)

1935

First woman President of the Manitoba Teachers’ Association

Valance St. Just Patriarche (1877-1970)

1916

First woman in Canada to be appointed to a film censorship board

Norma Killeen Price (1920-2008)

?

First woman in Canada to be General Manager of a major hotel

George Waldron Prout (1878-c1980)

1915

First person of black ancestry to serve as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA)

John Ashley Robinson (c1883-1950)

1917

One of the organizers of the Order of Sleeping Car Porters, the first Black railway union in North America, in Winnipeg

Edith Frances McTavish Rogers (1876-1947)

1920

First Manitoba woman to serve as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA)

Charlotte Whitehead Ross (1843-1916)

1881

First Manitoba woman to practice medicine

Edith McKay Ross (1888-1932)

1913

First woman anaesthetist at the Winnipeg General Hospital

Mrs. Rowe

1916

First Manitoba woman outside Winnipeg (Mossey River) to serve as a school trustee

Edna Georgia Mary Russell (1913-?)

1946

First Manitoba woman to receive an engineering degree

Thorbjorg Sigurdsson (1872-1971)

?

First President of Sigurvon, the first suffragist organization in Manitoba

Calvin Murray Sinclair

1988

First Indigenous judge appointed in Manitoba

Ellen Ann Melrose Sissons (1887-1973)

1915

Called to the Manitoba Bar, she was one of the first two women to practice law in Manitoba

Mary Barrett Speechly (1873-1968)

1933

First woman appointed to the Board of Governors for the University of Manitoba

Ida Cates Steel (1866-1953)

1883

First Manitoba woman to work as a telephone operator

Heather Stefanson

2021

First woman to serve as Premier of Manitoba

Max Steinkopf (1881-1935)

1905

First Jewish lawyer to be called to the Manitoba Bar

John Russell “Jack” Stuart (1908-1970)

1950

First full-time personnel manager hired by a Canadian municipality

Susan Thompson

1993

First woman to serve as Mayor of Winnipeg

Winifred Maria Wilton (1891-1952)

1915

Called to the Manitoba Bar, she was one of the first two women to practice law in Manitoba

See also:

MHS Features: Manitoba Time Line

Some Manitoba Women Who Did First Things by Lillian Beynon Thomas
MHS Transactions, Series 3, No. 4, 1947-1948

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Firsts

Sources:

“682 university graduates get degrees Wednesday,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 May 1946, page 13.

“Heroines emerge from Manitoba’s history,” Winnipeg Free Press, 7 March 1994, page 15.

We thank David Ennis, Ryan Eyford, Liliana Lopez, and Ralph Friesen for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 20 September 2022

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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