Grey Bruce Remembers: Agnes Campbell Macphail
Former Canadian Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, once said, “Canada produced five great politicians. Agnes Macphail was one of them.” Now appearing on the new $10, entering circulation June 1st, let’s look back at this great figure and what she did for her country for farm issues, women’s equality, prison reform, and peace activism.
Born on March 24, 1890 in Grey Country (then Proton Township), Agnes Campbell Macphail would make history in a time where such a thing was thought impossible and would bring scorn, Agnes became the first female member of Parliament, December 6th, 1921, representing the Grey South-East Riding.
One of Macphail’s passions was to reform the prisons of Canada which were becoming more and more crowded, as such, Agnes felt it was more necessary than ever to make sure inmates were being treated humanely. The road would not get any easier even as an elected official as famously Agnes, visiting a Kingston prison, was told “ladies were not allowed inside the prison” to which she replied, “I’m not a lady, I’m a MP”.
A Toronto Telegram columnist once said the most beautiful thing about Macphail, besides her “shining honesty,” was her voice, which in his words “had the quality of a viola, deep and compassionate and heart-catching … Agnes Macphail, standing to denounce injustice or deride pettiness from her place in the Commons of Canada, spoke in tones that echo unforgotten across the years.”
Macphail gave 6,685 days (18 years, 3 months, 19 days) of service as an MP, and was not joined by another woman in the house until 1935.
Join is in sharing her story and celebrating her legacy!