150 Fascinating Facts About Canadian Women by Margie Wolfe and other contributors

This book was created to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary of confederation. In some circles it is referred to as 150+ years of colonization. I think the latter is a more correct interpretation of the event, but that isn't really the point here. Margie Wolfe and others collected facts about Canadian women and then limited them to 150 for this book. I am struck by the artificiality of this. Still I am appeased somewhat by this dedication. "To the women who are recognized in this book, and more importantly, all those who should be." The next two pages are a more in depth apology for this. I am deeply appreciative of this.

All that aside, there are plenty of positive things about this book. The format is easily readable making it applicable for students in grades 5 on up to adults. A lot of information is packed into these 120 pages. When I was a teacher librarian I created small posters about Canadian women to post around the school for International Woman's Day. This book would have been the ideal resource. It provides basic information about significant Canadian woman or womens' organizations from 150 years ago through to today. While the beginning couple of pages address white women, the first twenty tell the stories of a diverse group of individuals: Gracie Annie Lockhart, Clara Brett Martin, Clara Lacoste Gerin-Lahore, Bertha Wilson, Rosalie Abella, Violet king Henry, Pauline Johnson, Maria Campbell, Hattie Rhue Hatchett, Mrs Kwong Lee and Mary Ann Shadd are referenced in the first few of these. I knew about Pauline Johnson and Mary Ann Shadd, and recognized the names of a couple of others, but the rest were new to me. The book includes scientists, politicians, social activists, and artists of many kinds. I was inspired and amazed by the women mentioned here.

For example, I did not know the story of Frances Kelsey and her work on thalidomide. It's a sad story of a woman not recognized in her own country for her work and the sorry consequences for a generation of children.

The book is formatted so that one or two women are highlighted in large print on one page. Here are some sample facts:

(I was lucky to have worked with Lorna when
she worked with the Vancouver School Board)

This just might be my favourite, but then, I am a huge fan of Mary Walsh to start with.

This is a good introductory book for a number of reasons.

First off, I can see having a couple of copies of these in a school library. It is an easy read that can be browsed. It would make a perfect jumping off point to find a little bit about one woman, and then do more research.

Second, It's a starter book in that it is limited to only 150 women. I was acquainted with many, but not all, of the women in this book. I appreciated that diverse voices are represented here, but I wish the authors hadn't limited it to 150. Perhaps they could have come up with 150 issues or categories that are relevant to woman, and then identified women who have done something about it. The book is organized in this way generally, with statements about women connected to a specific aspect of history. 

This will make the perfect stocking stuffer gift. At just under $10, I plan to purchase numerous copies of it for just this purpose. I'll give it to the women on my list, but I might give a copy to my son who takes part in trivia competitions and loves to come up with his own questions. 

Quibbles: I've mentioned some of these previously, but there is one more that I need to express. A number of influential musicians are mentioned here. k d lang and Joni Mitchell are referenced regarding their American success with out mentioning their Juno awards or induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. It's a sad and sorry truth that here in Canada we often don't acknowledge the quality of our artists unless they make it big in the States, but still, couldn't their Canadian awards at least be noted in a book that celebrates Canadians?

Now I want to see some picture book biographies of more of these women!

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