The month chosen was due to the fact that back in 1929 the "Famous Five" women from Alberta finally won a years long battle with several Canadian Prime Ministers and the courts for the nomination of women, and appointment to the Canadian Senate.
The men of the day of course rejected the idea. Mostly basing their position on a very old English law that put the women in circles and had the men of the day forming protective lines around them from the natives.
Add to that, the very dated British case claiming that only PERSONS could not be nominated due to outdated case law arguing that women were NOT PERSONS.
The 1929 case was heard and a decision issued in late October that indeed women certainly were PERSONS. And thus, could be appointed to the Senate.
In 1992 Canadian government announced the creation of Women's History Month in Canada. 1992 being the 50th anniversary of the original British court ruling.
However, in typical government speak, the press release announcing the new month of celebration, failed to give the names of the three Victoria area women largely responsible for the movement. The three originals and later a few others, spent over 2 years organizing and presented letters of support to pressure government for the creation of such a month.
Surely the very women... if any ... that deserved to be recognized for their efforts to get the month created. The matter has been oft noted in this space.
The above image was one of the federal notices regarding the Canadian month for the year 2021.
Several days ago I thought I would do a mini survey of some of the women I have covered in these blogs. In particular I was looking for stories about Madeleine Jaffray, Bernice MacDonald and Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee.
I searched under the description... Womens' History Month in US, and then added the above 3 names, one at a time. Out of 30 citations on first page in each search, I got 27 hits for Higbee, only 2 hits for Jaffray and none for MacDonald. I could have used other parameters to search, but these three are indicative of the poor coverage these heroes received, in this search. This is of course not to say that overall the three are not well represented in other searches.
Lenah would ultimately become the 2nd ever Superintendent of all nurses in the US Navy. Obviously she was well qualified to be weeded out of the many applicants to be amongst the first 20. Many years later, after her demise she was laid to rest beside her husband at Arlington.
Lenah is shown above by the red arrow. Sarah M Cox, circled above, ended up as the Chief Nurse at the US Navy Hospital at Bremerton Washington. News to me days ago, is that Cox came from near Grand Lake NB. About 175 kms away, at Chatham NB, is where Higbee was born.
Two Canadians in the Sacred Twenty!
Three of the four died and got the medal posthumously.The fourth was Lehna Higbee. Apparently the medal has not been awarded to any other US naval woman to this day. And one of the three went to yet another Canadian... nurse Lilian Mary Louis Murphy from St Catherines Ontario. Here is an image of the Naval Cross...
The above noted survey on Google, produced no hits on a Woman who was probably the most decorated nurse in WW1 from any country. Her name was Bernice MacDonald and she was from PEI. There has been much said about her in these blog in the past.
She was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, 2nd only to the Medal of Honor in the army, possible got the Distinguished Service Medal, the Purple Heart, the British Military Medal, the British Associate Red Cross Medal and the French Croix de Guerre.
Nurse MacDonald was the first ever to receives the Distinguished Service Cross, either male of female. A past blog told on the confusion officialdom had in granting this award. The legal verbiage called for the medal being awarded to men...not woman..and had to be altered to allow this first ever medal to be awarded... and to a Canadian at that.
Earlier blogs also told of how the Purple Heart was created and when first issued, and despite numerous citations on the net, the first ever awarding of the PH did NOT go to General MacArthur... but to Canadian nurse Beatrice MacDonald.
And here we see Secretary of War Baker pinning the DSC onto the uniform of Nurse MacDonald in Feb. 1919. The ceremony took place at the War Offices in DC.
I shall be back with more on Sunday hopefully.
In the mean time make use of my search engine at upper right and enter some of these names and read about their incredible services to the US. A service that in turn is due an honourable place in our own history books to boot. (Though much needs to be done on that front as well.)