Herstory 2015

16 December 2014

Herstory 2015: The Canadian Women’s Calendar
by The Saskatoon Women’s Calendar Collective
Published by Coteau Books
Review by Keith Foster
$15.95 ISBN 13:9781550505863

Herstory 2015 serves a dual purpose – combining a brief history of dozens of Canadian women with a daily calendar for 2015. The book follows a basic format – a photo and thumbnail sketch of a woman or activity on one page, and on the facing page, a seven-day calendar with an inspirational quote at the bottom. It is a book is chock full of stories of remarkable women and their accomplishments. Look at race car driver Kelly Williams, who “competed professionally for 15 years – 10 of these at the top level of Canadian motorsports.” Negativity didn’t daunt her. She simply turned it into a positive force and used it to fuel a win.

Or look at the lumberjills, women who, like lumberjacks, rolled logs downriver. The Second World War required Canada to enlist women into jobs that were formerly primarily, if not exclusively, the domain of men. A 1943 National Film Board documentary lauded the lumberjills as handling timber like experienced lumberjacks.

What about the Canadian Ninety-Nines? An association of female aviators with such notable luminaries as astronauts Roberta Bondar and Julie Payette. Rosella Bjornson became the first female pilot for a commercial airline in North America, and Major Dee Brasseur was one of the first women in the world qualified to fly the CF-18 Hornet.

Being confined to a wheelchair didn’t prevent competitive target shooter Heather Kuttai from winning two silver medals at the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul, South Korea, and a bronze medal four years later in Barcelona, Spain. She certainly didn’t let her disability hinder her.

Herstory extols the experience of Rose Fortune, a Black Loyalist who migrated to Nova Scotia after the American Revolution. She established a successful trucking business and maintained a monopoly “not through any letters patent, but by virtue of a strong right arm and strict attention to business.” She was also reputed to be the first female law enforcement officer in Canada.

When Patti-Kay Hamilton complained about the CBC’s lack of coverage of a local dogsled race, she was pressed into covering it herself. “I got a five-minute course on how to use the tape recorder and they set me loose on the world,” she said. She gave such a colourful live commentary that she wound up with a job at the CBC, where she stayed for three decades and won an award for broadcast excellence.

This coil-bound edition also has four dozen black and white or colour photos, four poems, two recipes, and a mini-quiz. Herstory 2015 concludes with an index and list of sources for those desiring more information about these fascinating women.

This may well be the last issue of Herstory in calendar format. In future, it may focus strictly on the history of Canadian women. Calendars, after all, go out of date, but history lives forever.


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