Mailing List
Site tools

Milestones in Canadian Women's History: the 1970's

[ 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 ]

    bullet Calling for free abortion on demand, the Abortion Caravan leaves Vancouver for Ottawa, picking up support (and supporters) along the way. Several women chain themselves to their seats in the House of Commons Visitors' Gallery.
    bullet More than 200 women from across Canada gather in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, for the first national conference on the women's movement. In her keynote speech, McGill University sociologist Marlene Dixon argues that race and class divide women too much to build an autonomous women's movement.
    bullet The Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women is tabled in the House of Commons.
    bullet Members of Toronto's New Feminists picket the offices of Maclean's magazine to protest what they felt was an anti-woman article. Signs announce: "Men are not born superior, they are raised privileged."
    bullet Women are 37% of full-time undergraduate students in Canadian universities.
    bullet The Female Eunuch, by Germaine Greer, is published. This widely-read book introduces many to "women's liberation."

    bullet Robert Andras is appointed first Minister Responsible for the Status of Women.
    bullet Indian Rights for Indian Women is founded to fight discrimination in the Indian Act.
    bullet Life expectancy for the average Canadian woman is 76. The average Canadian man lives 69 years. Life expectancy is significantly lower for Aboriginal Canadians, with women living 37 years and men 34 years.
    bullet The National Gallery organizes the first solo exhibition of the work of a living Canadian woman, Joyce Wieland.
    bullet The Canadian Women's Educational Press (the Women's Press) is founded in Toronto by several women who recognize the urgent need to publish material "by, for and about Canadian women." Their first project, published the following year, is Women Unite!, a collection of articles from women's groups across the country commissioned earlier by Discussion Collective No. 6 of the Toronto Women's Liberation Movement.

    bullet Nearly 500 women gather in Toronto for the Strategy for Change conference, and found the National Ad Hoc Action Committee on the Status Of Women (NAC). The "Ad Hoc" is later dropped.
    bullet Rosemary Brown of Vancouver becomes the first Black woman to be elected to a provincial legislature in Canada. She later becomes the first woman candidate for the leadership of a major Canadian political party, losing the leadership of the New Democratic Party (NDP) to Ed Broadbent.
    bullet Kinesis, a newspaper published by the Vancouver Status of Women, is founded.

    bullet The Canadian Association for the Repeal of the Abortion Law is founded. In 1980, it changes its name to the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League (CARAL).
    bullet The Réseau d'action et d'information pour les femmes (RAIF) is founded.
    bullet The first National Lesbian Conference is held in Toronto. Lesbians come together to discuss strategies for organizing autonomously as lesbians, or within the women's and gay rights movements. Subsequent conferences are held in Montreal in 1974 and in Ottawa in 1976.
    bullet Ms. magazine is first published.
    bullet A Quebec jury acquits Dr. Henry Morgentaler for the first time on a charge of committing an illegal abortion. He is subsequently acquitted three times by juries in Ontario and Quebec, only to have those acquittals overturned by higher courts. The Supreme Court of Canada eventually finds in Morgentaler's favour, and in January 1988 declares therapeutic abortion committees (TACs) unconstitutional.
    bullet The Supreme Court of Canada rules that Irene Murdoch, an Alberta rancher, is not entitled to a share of the ranch she and her husband built up over 25 years. Women across Canada are outraged. Irene Murdoch is later granted a lump-sum amount.
    bullet The Supreme Court of Canada narrowly rules in the Jeannette Lavell case that the Indian Act does not discriminate against women, despite the fact that Indian women who marry non-status men lose their Indian status while Indian men confer their status on non-status wives. The National Action Committee on the Status of Women organizes a "Day of Mourning for Canada's Bill of Rights" to protest the decision.
    bullet Women in Thunder Bay, Ontario, organize the first Northern Women's Conference. Shortly afterward, they found the Northern Women's Journal as a forum for the exchange of ideas among Northern Ontario women. The exchange continues 20 years later.
    bullet Canada Post issues a commemorative stamp in honour of the 100th anniversary of the birth of suffragist Nellie McClung.
    bullet The OptiMst, a periodical for Yukon women, is published.
    bullet Canadian Rosella Bjornson becomes the first North American woman airline pilot.
    bullet Rape crisis centres open in Vancouver and in Toronto. They are the first such centres in Western and Central Canada.
    bullet The Canadian Congress for Learning Opportunities for Women (CCLOW) is founded. The CCLOW is a national organization that promotes learning opportunities for women.
    bullet Pauline Jewett becomes the president of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. She is the first woman president of a co-educational university in Canada.
    bullet The first lesbian newsletter in Canada, Long Time Coming, appears in Montreal.
    bullet The Canadian Women's Negro Association organizes the first national Conference of Black Women. After seven years of annual meetings, they found the Congress of Black Women of Canada.
    bullet The Women's Program of the Secretary of State is created. It becomes an important source of funding for women's organizations across the country.
    bullet Air Canada rescinds its policy preventing married women from being flight attendants (then known as stewardesses).
    bullet The Conseil du statut de la femme (CSF) is founded in Quebec. Its mandate is two-fold: to advise the government on matters relating to the status of women, and to keep women abreast of its analysis and policy positions.


    bullet The United Nations proclaims International Women's Year.
    bullet The National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) is founded to promote the equality of women in law and society.
    bullet The first national conference of rape crisis centres is held. Twenty-two centres are represented.
    bullet Grace Hartman becomes the first woman elected president of a national union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Hartman, who joined the paid labour force in 1954 as a typist, previously served as the president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women.
    bullet A Gallup poll finds that 49% of Canadians favour a salary for housewives.

    bullet Monique Bégin, former executive secretary and research director of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, becomes Minister of National Revenue.
    bullet Bertha Wilson becomes the first woman appeal level judge in Canada when she is appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal. She later writes the decision in the Rosa Becker case (see 1980).
    bullet The Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW) is founded. CRIAW encourages, co-ordinates, and disseminates research into women's experience.
    bullet The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) opens a Women's Bureau.

    bullet The Canadian Women's Movement Archives are founded by an independent feminist collective in Toronto to preserve the records of the contemporary Canadian women's movement. In 1992, the Archives move to the University of Ottawa.
    bullet The Badgley Report on the operation of the abortion law is released. It confirms women's claims that abortion is not equally available across the country.
    bullet Weekend Magazine, a widely distributed supplement to English-language newspapers, declares that "the Women's Movement is Dead."
    bullet The Canadian Human Rights Act becomes law. The Indian Act is not covered, and consequently status Indian women continue to lose all entitlement to, and all rights and benefits of, registration as Indians upon marriage to non-Indian men.
    bullet MATCH International Centre, a feminist international development organization, is founded. MATCH matches the resources and needs of Canadian women with those of women in developing countries.
    bullet Florence Bird, Chairman (sic) of the RCSW, is appointed to the Senate.

    bullet The first Take Back the Night, march in Canada is held in Toronto. Marchers protest violence against women and demand that they be able to walk the streets at night in safety.
    bullet The United Nations Human Rights Committee agrees to hear the case of Sandra Lovelace, an Aboriginal woman from the Tobique reserve in New Brunswick Like Jeanette Lavall and others, Lovelace claims that the Indian Act is discriminatory. In 1981, the Committee finds Canada in breach of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
    bullet The Supreme Court of Canada rules on the Stella Bliss case. Bliss, who was unemployed and pregnant, applied for jobless benefits. She was refused unemployment insurance and told that she was entitled only to pregnancy benefits, though she had not been employed for long enough to be eligible for them. Claiming discrimination against women, she went to court. The Court ruled that Bliss was not discriminated against because she was a woman, but rather because she was pregnant. Canadian women greeted the ruling with shock, and then awaited with anticipation the appearance of the first pregnant man.