100 Canadian Heroines

Overview

This inspiring collection profiles remarkable women — heroines in science, sport, preaching and teaching, politics, war and peace, arts and entertainment, and more.

In 100 Canadian Heroines you’ll meet remarkable women in science, sport, preaching and teaching, politics, war and peace, arts and entertainment, etc. The book is full of amazing facts and fascinating trivia about intriguing figures. Discover some of the many heroines Canada can be proud of. Find out how we’re remembering them. Or not!

Augmented by great quotes and photos, this inspiring collection profiles remarkable women — heroines in science, sport, preaching and teaching, politics, war and peace, arts and entertainment, and more. Profiles include mountaineer Phyllis Munday, activist Hide Shimizu, unionist Lea Roback, and movie mogul Mary Pickford.

Reviews

(Emily) Stowe is among those feted in Merna Forster's 100 Canadian Heroines ... (Dundurn, 2004) a timely read on the eve of International Women's Day (March 8).

Homemaker’s Magazine

Merna Foster's new book, 100 Canadian Heroines, gives a quick and easy introductory education on the subject of Canadian women's history. A book of encyclopedic biographical references, Heroines is fresh and informative even to the seasoned feminist reader ... This is a book of rich achievements, but more, it is a storytelling book about great characters ... Cross-dressing doctors, physicists, actors, Mohawk leaders – you name it, our foremothers are all of these – and more.

Herizons

Whether used as a reference book or for bedside reading, this is a convenient compendium of information on Canadian women, and a tribute not only to the individuals who made the cut but also to a generation of scholarly research that has restored the lives of these women worthies to the historical record.

Canadian Book Review Annual

This a terrific book – the rare reference title that should be read cover to cover. Every aspect inspires, beginning with the foreword by Kim Campbell (Canada's first woman prime minister) and continuing with the author's introduction and the sketches of 100 women who left their mark on Canadian history. This should be part of every women's studies curriculum.

CHOICE

Forster's book achieves a unique blend of comprehensiveness, solid historical and archival research, and an approachable style that engages us to marvel at and aspire to the kinds of achievements attained by so many women who have lived in Canada but whose contributions have helped shape North-American society and the progress of our contemporary world.

The American Review of Canadian Studies

When it comes to great Canadians, women didn't make the CBC's top 10. This book provides plenty of ammunition to force a recount.

Times Colonist

100 Canadian Heroines is an easy-to-read collection of vignettes that should show up dog-eared in every high school napsack across the country ... This well-researched, well-written tribute to Canadian women is surpassed only by what these women were able to accomplish. ... Every woman and every young girl you know deserves a copy this book; and Forster deserves all the praise, for she, too, is a heroine for bravely going into dusty archives and rescuing the stories of these women's lives who should be models for all of us.

Thursday Night Cafe

I really enjoyed this book's two-to-three page biographies ... Balancing it all with such grace and tenacity, that as a working woman and mother, I wept for a portion of their guts and gusto. ... If you know more about Pamela Anderson and Shania Twain than Pitseolak Ashoona and Georgina Pope, then this book will help change all that.

701.com

100 Canadian Heroines is not only a celebration of Canadian women but diversity in Canada.

Northern Visitor

... fresh and informative ... This is a book of rich achievements, but more, it is a storytelling book about great characters.

Arts & Culture

... the author provides a good summary of each woman's major accomplishments as well as a sketch of her personality, giving the reader a window into their worlds.

Canadian Children’s Book News

100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten is a book to read with great pride and pleasure by all Canadians. I recommend this book as a good read for anyone interested in Canadian history and as a great gift for a young graduate.

Stories in Stone Journal

The text is laced with stirring descriptions ... Readers of 100 Canadian heroines will find feminism, despair, joy, and plenty of substantial worthies throughout the volume.

Feminist Collections

... formulaic, but it works.

Books in Review

How is it possible that I hadn't heard of most of these women and what they had done? If they could overcome the lack of opportunity, understanding, education, money and support and drive on to accomplish great things, so should we all. They are inspiring.

Valerie Pringle, Television Broadcaster

Seeking inspiration? You will find it in the remarkable lives, achievements, and 100% Canadian content in this collection of fascinating biographies

Popular Reading Library, Vancouver Public Library

If you don't know who any of the following are—Isobel Gunn, Anna Leonowens (hint: Think Siam), Asayo Murakami, Mary Travers (not of Peter, Paul and Mary), Gudridur Thorbjardottir—then this is the book for you, or your daughter, or your son, for that matter.

The Globe and Mail

This is a terrific book--the rare reference title that should be read cover to cover. Every aspect inspires, beginning with the foreword by Kim Campbell (Canada's first woman prime minister) and continuing with the author's introduction and the sketches of 100 women who left their mark on Canadian history. This should be part of every women's studies curriculum

P.P. Philbin, CHOICE

"...a book to stir your dreams and your talents."

Desmond Morton Historian, author, and founding director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

This volume is a welcome effort to make the achievements of women in Canadian history better known...A must for all Canadian secondary schools and public libraries.

Canadian Review of Materials The Manitoba Library Association

Thank you for your exceptional work and for your commitment to acknowledging the achievements of these extraordinary Canadians. Your book is a significant contribution to our nation's historical literature and will benefit generations to come. In recognition of your talent as a writer and storyteller, I am pleased to present you with The Lieutenant Governor's Celebration of the Arts Pin.

Dr. Lynda Haverstock Lieutenant Governor Province of Saskatchewan

...engaging stories, wonderful photographs...a good introduction to Canadian women's history.

Dr. Catherine Carstairs History Department, University of Guelph

Not since Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party have we been invited to quite such a smorgasbord of women's accomplishments — this one Canadian. The sense of excitement and pride that Archibald Lampman expressed on first reading Charles G.D. Roberts' Orion, or finding "one of oursleves" capable of greatness, or the emotion American Alice Walker reported on discovering Black Foremother Zora Neale Hurston, which filled her with an inestimable "joy and strength and my own continuity" — this is the kind of luminous experience that awaits readers of 100 Canadian Heroines.

Wendy Robbins, University of New Brunswick

Forster's smooth magazine style of writing moistens the dryness of historical writing for non-buffs and stirs a proud passion in the breast of any Canadian female... Every woman and every young girl you know deserves a copy of this book; and Forster deserves all the praise, for she, too, is a heroine for bravely going into dusty archives and rescuing the stories of these women's lives who should be models for all of us.

Bobbie Smith Thursday Night Cafe

... a unique blend of comprehensiveness, solid historical and archival research, and an approachable style that engages us to marvel at and aspire to the kinds of achievements attained by so many women who have lived in Canada but whose contributions have helped shape North-American society and the progress of our contemporary world.

Miléna Santoro Associate Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies Program Georgetown University

Merna Forster's new book provides wonderful portraits of Canadian women from (the)16th century up to the end of the 20th century...For the teacher of Canadian history, the book provides excellent written snapshots of women who have made significant contributions in Canadian society in a way that the students will appreciate and enjoy...a book that should be required reading for all Canadian history.

Katy Whitfield, teacher Ontario Women’s History Network Newsletter

Merna Forster has given us a hundred important lives to share, and a hundred wonderful phrases to think about. Best of all, this is just a start. Imagine adding your favourite heroines to the collection. And think how you, too, can become a heroine or a hero just by using your talents and your opportunities and refusing to be discouraged. This is a book to stir your dreams and your talents.

Desmond Morton, founding director of McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

A book who's time has come, if not long overdue. Surely there will be another volume with more heroines. The 100 women chosen for this book are just the tip of a fascinating iceberg."
"This book proves Forster's point: "Our history is coloured by amazing women who've done fascinating things." Read and enjoy these long-overdue-stories from Canada's rich past. May there be more.

Laird Rankin Publisher, The Beaver

More than a who's who of famous Canadian women including people like Nellie McClung and Emily Carr, Forster's book includes many lesser known Canadians like (Hide Hyodo) Shimizu.

Natalie Hanson Nepean This Week

"Great Canadian women you haven't heard of"
Read ten stories from the book 100 Canadian Heroines in an illustrated two-page feature.

Saturday Observer, The Ottawa Citizen

Author brings stories of Canadian women to print...Former Black Diamond resident Merna Forster has spent the last two years researching great Canadian women for a new book she hopes will popularize their incredible stories.

The Western Wheel Okotoks, Alberta

this would be an excellent book to have in the school system to let youngsters (and their parents) know about the women of this country in our past.

Peter Anthony, Host, HOLDER TONIGHT, CJAD

Merna Forster's 100 Canadian Heroines is a celebration of the diverse contributions that women have made to the building of the Dominion of Canada.

Ottawa Life Magazine

The term 'weaker sex' should make one's blood boil after reading this book," Kim Campbell writes in the foreword of this remarkable roundup. "The stories of these women entertain and inspire us, but more importantly, they contribute to changing the understanding that determines how societies define the roles of women.

The Ottawa Citizen

Merna's book, 100 Canadian Heroines, features an inspiring collection of facts, trivia, quotes, and photos about an interesting group of women...They have accomplished so many great things by using their talents and opportunities

Barbara Evans, Capital Carillon, Canadian Federation of University Women-Ottawa Chapter

Hometown girl Marie Dressler has come to the attention of Nepean resident Merna Forster, author in her new book 100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces. That humble Ontario cottage on King Street West is where Leila Koerber was born, the self-professed ugly duckling of a little girl who would later become Oscar-winning actress Marie Dressler.

Cecilia Nasmith The Cobourg Daily Star

I think I have a new favourite book to promote! I work at Upper Canada Village and each summer I manage to work in references to books that I think some of the visitors might be interested in reading. This coming summer, 2005, school groups are going to hear about 100 Canadian Heroines.

Margot Dixon History Interpreter, Upper Canada Village

Forster offers a diverse selection (of women) and her research on all of them is impeccable. For an added touch, she ends each mini-bio with a lively quote from her subject ... Forster has done a superb job in making these forgotten women vividly real again.

Books & The Arts, Calgary Herald

Author Merna Forster is a native of Alberta who has been discovering historical heroines from coast to coast during her travels.

Delights/Book Excerpt Diplomat and International Canada

Heroines forgotten no more...New book follows paths of Canadian female trailblazers

The Ottawa Saturday Sun

Ottawa-based Merna Forster, a certified historian, has truly written the book on "100 Canadian Heroines". It is packed full of interesting, lively and yes, heroic stories that will have you reading each biography twice, just to make sure you didn't miss a detail.

Sue Andreychuk Monkeybiz.ca

Merna Forster's book is just outstanding. I was inspired by it over and over again as I read about each heroine. It is a must read.

Margaret Cunningham

Ottawa historian has the goods on 100 Canadian women who stood on guard for thee...tells the stories of Canadian women who throughout history have made important contributions to society.

Winnipeg Free Press

After reading 100 Canadian Heroines, your heart will thunder with pride and courage so that you, too, will become a nation builder by addressing either small but important or massive, magnificent challenges. As Louise McKinney, one of the Famous 5 said, 'Dream big and act honourably!

Frances Wright Founder & Former President & CEO, Famous 5 Foundation

Forster focused on women of the past who lived with great courage and who made their mark on the world... One of the courageous women included in the volume happens to be Annapolis Royal's own Rose Fortune, a black loyalist who became a successful entrepreneur and the town's first female law enforcer.

Carolyn Sloan The Spectator

I think about women like Merna Forster, who’s been fighting a lonely battle to have Canada acknowledge that maybe one woman in the history of this country deserves to be on our money (and you would know how many Canadian women do deserve that honour, if you read her excellent book 100 Canadian Heroines)

Elizabeth Renzetti, Globe & Mail

About the Author

Merna Forster

Posted by Kendra on October 30, 2014
Merna Forster photo

Merna Forster

Merna Forster is a historian who has also been an archivist and park naturalist. A recipient of the Canada 125 Commemorative Medal, she has been discovering historical heroines from coast to coast during her travels. She was awarded the 2016 Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media (Pierre Berton Award) for her work promoting women in history. She lives in Victoria.