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Memorable Manitobans: Gertrude Matilda Twilley Richardson (1875-1946)

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Gertrude Richardson
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Feminist, reformer.

Born at Leicester, England in January 1875, daughter of James Twilley and Eliza Richardson, sister of Frederick Arthur Twilley, she trained as a costumer and became active with anti-war socialists during the Boer War. After a prolonged nervous breakdown following the breakup of her marriage, she became active in the suffrage movement, writing many poems on feminist subjects.

She immigrated to Canada in 1910 and settled with her mother at Swan River in 1911, joining her brother and sister who had arrived earlier. On 25 July 1912, she married Robert Richardson (1876-1938) at Winnipeg, and eventually having a son, Edward Horace Eric Richardson (1917-2006).

She became active in the Manitoba feminist movement and also opposed the First World War, becoming an anti-conscriptionist in 1915. This stance cost her an outlet for her writing in the magazine Women’s Century, sponsored by the National Council of Women in Canada. In 1917 she began a friendship with Helen Armstrong and continued her involvement with the Christian Peace Crusade. After the war she became ill again, and in 1921 was hospitalized at Winnipeg, remaining there until 1925.

After several years on the farm near Swan River, she was admitted to the Hospital for Mental Diseases at Brandon in 1930, remaining there until her death from heart failure on 5 September 1946. She was buried in the Birchwood Cemetery. A memorial plaque was unveiled in 2006 at the Swan Valley Historical Museum. She was selected posthumously as a Manitoba Woman Trailblazer.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Roaring River School No. 1215 (Municipality of Minitonas-Bowsman)

“Give us our due!” How Manitoba Women Won the Vote by Harry Gutkin and Mildred Gutkin
Manitoba History, Number 32, Autumn 1996

A Reconstructed World: A Feminist Biography of Gertrude Richardson by Barbara Roberts, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1996.

Sources:

1911 Canada census [Gertrude Dexter], Automated Genealogy.

Marriage registration [Gertrude Matilda Dexter], Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Robt. Richardson, Swan Valley farmer, passed away suddenly on Tuesday,” Swan Valley Star and Times, 10 November 1938, page 1.

Birth and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

Gertrude M. Twilley Richardson, Find-A-Grave.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 3 February 2021

Memorable Manitobans

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