WERC focuses on Emily Stowe for Women’s History Month

By Heather Rivers, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

They want to recognize the historical achievements of local women, because no one else seems to be.

On Oct. 20, the Women’s Employment Resource Centre will celebrate Women’s History Month, with a two-part her-story presentation about the life and accomplishments of Emily Stowe and women’s roles in medicine and medical science at the Woodstock Museum.

“We decided to have this event because there are lots of events going on to celebrate International Women’s Day but nothing to celebrate Women’s History Month,” said Maggie McDonald, executive director of the Women’s Resource Centre. “We decided to share an event that recognizes Women’s History Month and try to keep it very local with women, events and activities that happen in Oxford County.”

The event begins with a presentation by Carol Tedball, a former Norwich resident with an interest in local history, about Dr. Emily Stowe.

Stowe, who was born in Norwich and raised in the Quaker faith, became the first Canadian female principal and later the first practicing female doctor in Canada.

Following her marriage in 1856, she raised three children. After the birth of her third, her husband, John Stowe, developed tuberculosis.

Stowe then left teaching to become a doctor but was denied admission into the Toronto School of Medicine due to her gender, and was forced to travel to the United States where she earned a degree from the New York Medical College for Women.

Granted a medical licence in 1880, Stowe became the second licensed female medical doctor in Ontario following Jenny Kidd Trout.

In 1876 she had founded Canada’s first suffrage group known as the Toronto Women's Literary Club.

Her daughter. Augusta Stowe-Gullen was the first female doctor to earn her medical degree in Canada.

“Putting all these pieces together, she was quite extraordinary,” McDonald said.

The second part of the evening will be a presentation by Karen Richardson, curator of the Haldimand County Museum and Archives, about the role of women in medicine.

WERC hopes to make the celebration an annual event.

“We are very excited to present this special event,” said co-organizer Brenda Boswell. “We know we have many women in Oxford County who have made a difference and we want to highlight one every year.”

Preregistration is required due to limited space by calling WERC at 519-421-2077 or online at Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the presentation starts at 7 p.m.