Friday, April 30, 2010

In History: Emily Stowe

This is the 23rd post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Emily Stowe was the first woman doctor to practice in Canada. She was also a suffragist, possibly born out of the fact that twice she was denied entry to a college (first as an undergrad, then as a med student) just because she was a woman. According to Wikipedia, "Stowe was a prominent early suffragist, considered by some to be the mother of the movement in Canada. In 1877 she founded the Toronto Women's Literary Guild, a suffragist organization, and campaigned for professional, educational and occupational opportunities for women. When the Dominion Women’s Enfranchisement Association was founded in 1889, Stowe became its first president and remained president until her death." She was also on trial for an abortion case in 1879, which you can read about here. Ultimately, the judge decided there was no case against Stowe, who had prescribed drugs to a woman that could have caused an intentional miscarriage.

Stowe died on this day, April 30, in 1903. You can read more about her here, here and here.



This plaque is in Norwich, Ontario, Stowe's birthplace. It reads:

EMILY HOWARD JENNINGS STOW, M.D., 1831-1903
The first female physician to practise medicine in Canada, Emily Jennings was born in Norwich Township to Quaker parents. For some years she taught school, then, in the early 1860s, she decided to pursue a career in medicine. Refused admission to an exclusively male institution in Toronto, Stowe enrolled in the New York Medical College for Women. She received her degree in 1867 and, returning to Canada, established a successful practice in Toronto. A passionate advocate for social reform, Stowe campaigned vigorously for increased educational opportunities for women, effectively challenging the right of Canadian universities and medical schools to exclude female students. As first president of the Dominion Women's Enfranchisement Association (1889-1903), she also contributed significantly to the advancement of women's voting rights.

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