The Clear Spirit: Twenty Canadian Women and Their Times
Published: December 1966© 1966
334 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.75 in
The Canadian Federation of University Women have undertaken as their Centennial project a biographical account of twenty noteworthy women. From a large number of vigorous and accomplished candidates a selection was made from various historical periods, from various regions of Canada, and from the various activities in which women have engaged. Each was to have significance in the development of Canadian society. It was also the wish of the C.F.U.W. that the essays should be based on original research and be written in a lively and readable style by women authors who are contributors to literary activities in Canada today.
The book begins with the early pioneers of Canada in their several areas of settlement: Madame de la Tour, Mère Marie de l'Incarnation, Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill. It includes Pauline Johnson, Laure Conan, L.M. Montgomery, Emily Carr, and Mazo de la Roche who over the years helped to establish women as professional contributors to literature and art. It has members of that honourable company of women with a cause: Adelaide Hoodless, Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, and Margaret McWilliams. It brings together a number who were among the first to enter fields traditionally regarded as for men: Cora Hind, Agnes Macphail, Maude Abbott, Alice Wilson. Bibliographical references for these and other Canadian women are included.
The writers are Ethel Bennett, Marie-Emmanuel Chabot, Clara Thomas, Elizabeth Loosley, Micheline Dumont-Johnson, Elizabeth Waterston, Ruth Howes, Kennethe Haig, Eleanor Harman, Doris French, Flora Burns, Jessie Scriver, Anne Montagnes, Dorothy Livesay, and Betty Jane Wylie: they too represent various parts of Canada.
With its vivid pictures of people and society this book will have a wide and popular appeal: all those who are interested in Canadian biography will enjoy it, and younger readers particularly will find much to admire in the lives of these women.
'When the tumult and the press-agent gimmickry of the Canadian centennial die, a few enduring and meaningful monuments will remain. Among them will stand this collective biography of twenty famous Canadian women. Mary Quayle Innis has assembled a group of essays by fifteen authors on twenty individuals whose careers span the history and the geographic breadth of Canada. The general theme of this collection is clear: women on the frontier. This amazing unity in diversity is a tribute to the judgement of the editor. The nature of the frontier is a changing one ranging from the physical frontier of settlement to the frontiers of knowledge and, too often, of establishing a role for women in occupations traditionally reserved for men.' J.A. Boudreau, Canadian Historical Review
'It would seem proper that due recognition be paid to the Canadian Federation of Women for its centennial project, this remarkable contribution to the sociological and historical record of this country. The book's title, The Clear Spirit, as the epigraph on the title page indicates, is apt. The lines are from Lycidas: "Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise/To scorn delights and live laborious days." Eve's daughters have indeed come into their own; but fame was hardly the spur that roused this group of Canadian women to splendid achievement. It was the thing farthest from their minds when they spent themselves in measureless service to others. Twenty women are here set forth with extraordinary vividness and freshness.' Dalhousie Review