Emily Stowe born in Ontario

On today’s date in 1831, Emily Stowe, the first female doctor to practice in Canada, was born in Norwich Township, Oxford County, Ont.

In 1981, Canada Post featured Stowe on a 17-cent multi-coloured stamp (Scott 879) as part of its Canadian Feminists issue. Printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company, the stamp depicts a portrait of Stowe to the left, with Toronto General Hospital to the right.

Dr. Emily Stowe was the first female doctor to practice in Canada, though she was unlicensed at the time. She was also a staunch advocate for women’s rights, for which she encountered prejudice; however, this was also due in part to her gender. When first applying to attend college, she was denied. Eventually, however, she would graduate to become the first woman principal of a public school. After her marriage, she became interested in medicine while taking care of her tuberculosis-stricken husband. She was forced to leave Canada to earn a medical degree, but she returned to practice medicine in Toronto – the first woman to do so – despite not being granted a license. Official licensing from Canada wouldn’t be given to Dr. Emily Stowe until 13 years later.

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