Building our health organizations and systems Women in Medicine

The presence of women in medicine, particularly in surgery and as physicians, can be traced to earliest human history. However, it was only at the start of the 20th century that most countries began to provide women with equal access to medical education and subsequent practice.  Our women CMHF Laureates have helped, and continue to help, pave the way for future generations of women health heroes in Canada.

Surgeon Doctor and patient
  1. 1642

    Jeanne Mance founded L’Hôtel-Dieu in what is now Montréal

  2. 1700

  3. 1800

  4. 1840

    After her death in 1771, The Grey Nuns carried on d’Youville’s legacy

  5. 1867

    Upon her return from the United States, Dr. Stowe opened her practice on Richmond Street in Toronto

  6. 1876

    Dr. Stowe founded the Toronto Women’s Literary Club, later renamed the Canadian Women’s Suffrage Association.

  7. 1883

    Dr. Augusta Stowe-Gullen, the daughter of Dr. Stowe, became the first woman to receive a Canadian medical degree when she graduated from Women’s Medical College.

  8. 1883

    In an effort to increase women’s access to medical education, Dr. Stowe founded the Women’s Medical College.

  9. 1889

    Rejected from the Faculty of Medicine at McGill due to her gender, Maude Abbott enrolled at Bishop’s University and earned her degree in medicine in 1894.

  10. 1900

  11. 1910

  12. 1914

    Along with another colleague, Maude Abbott took on Acting Editorship of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) during WW1, until 1919

  13. 1914 - 1918

    During WWI, Maude Abbott worked tirelessly to prepare and catalogue teaching specimens for the Canadian Medical War Museum (CMWM)

  14. 1920

  15. 1930

  16. 1931

    Elizabeth Bagshaw became Director of the Planned Parenthood Society

  17. 1932

    Elizabeth Bagshaw founded Canada’s first birth control clinic

  18. 1936

    Dr. Maude Abbott published her ATLAS OF CONGENITAL CARDIAC DISEASE in which she outlined a new classification system for congenital heart diseases

  19. 1940

  20. 1950

  21. 1950

    Dr. M. Vera Peters published her landmark study that suggested early-stage Hodgkin’s was potentially curable with radiation therapy

  22. 1951

    World’s first non-commercial cobalt-60 therapy unit went into operation at the University of Saskatchewan

  23. 1960

  24. 1970

  25. 1970

    Dr. Bette Stephenson was elected President of the Ontario Medical Association, the first woman to hold the position in its 90-year history

  26. 1971

    Lucille Teasdale-Corti became a war surgeon in Uganda

  27. 1972 - 1982

    Dr. Herbert was a pioneer in community-based primary care research, with research questions arising from practice and grounded in patient and community care needs.

  28. 1973

    Dr. Stephenson was elected President of the Canadian Medical Association, the first woman to hold the position in its 106-year history

  29. 1975

    Dr. Peters published the first controlled study to demonstrate that lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy had success outcomes equal to or better than more radical procedures

  30. 1975

    May Cohen led a federal government workshop on women’s health care, as part of the Canadian government’s response to International Women’s Year

  31. 1978

    Elaine Carty receives Health Canada funding to explore the development of a midwife-led, out of hospital birth centre

  32. 1980

  33. 1982 - 1987

    Dr. Herbert becomes the founding co-director of Sexual Abuse Assessment Pilot Project

  34. 1982 - 1988

    Dr. Herbert serves as the founding co-director of Vancouver Sexual Assault Assessment Service (still operating in 2023)

  35. 1983

    Roberta Bondar was chosen from more than 4,000 applicants for Canada’s astronaut program

  36. 1987 - 1989

    Dr. Herbert serves as the president of North American Primary Care Research Group, most influential primary care research organization in the world.

  37. 1988

    As a skilled administrator, Dr. Jean Gray became Associate Dean of Post-Graduate Medical Education at Dalhousie University

  38. 1988

    Dr. Jacalyn Duffin became the Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine at Queen’s University

  39. 1990

  40. 1990

    Dr. Herbert is a founding member of UBC Institute of Health Promotion Research

  41. 1991

    Noralou Roos becomes the Founding Director of the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy

  42. 1992 - 1994

    Co-developed Guidelines for Participatory Action Research in Health Promotion

  43. 1992

    On the space craft DISCOVERY, Dr. Bondar circled our planet at thirty thousand kilometres per hour, situated three hundred kilometres above Earth

  44. 1993 - 1995

    Co-Principal Investigator of Haida Gwaii Diabetes Project, one of the first participatory research partnerships with Canadian Indigenous communities.

  45. 1995

    Dr. Judith G. Hall’s medical expertise and capacity for leadership was well-respected internationally

  46. 1995

    The Ottawa Health Decision Center was founded by Annette O'Connor and her team

  47. 1998

    BC legislated midwifery as part of the health care system

  48. 1999 - 2010

    Dr. Herbert serves as Dean, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University.

  49. 1999

    The first woman in Canada to become Dean of a Faculty of Medicine

  50. 2000

  51. 2001

    Connie Eaves became the first researcher in Vancouver to commence investigations of human embryonic stem cells (ES) and human induced pluripotent Stem Cells (iPS)

  52. 2001

    When the Canadian Institutes of Health Research was formed, Dr. Jean Gray was asked to chair the Institute of Gender and Health Advisory Board

  53. 2002-2011

    Became the first Chief Scientific Adviser to UNAIDS (The United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS)

  54. 2003 - 2007

    Dr. Herberts chairs the National Expert Committee, Health Canada Interprofessional Education (IPE) for Patient-Centred Collaborative Care which funded many innovative IPE projects.

  55. 2003

    Elaine Carty began work on integrating the humanities, specifically art and poetry, throughout the midwifery curriculum

  56. 2009 - 2019

    Founding Fellow of Canadian Academy of Health Sciences

  57. 2010

  58. 2010

    Co-author of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences major assessment report: “Transforming Care for Canadians with Chronic Health Conditions: Put People First, Expect the Best, Manage for Results”.

  59. 2012

    Dr. Rockman-Greenberg was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women for her work supporting vulnerable communities

  60. 2012

    Elaine Carty is called out of retirement to resume the Directorship of UBC program to oversee the first expansion of the program.

  61. 2013 - 2016

    Noralou Roos co-authors several e-books on health policy in Canada

  62. 2015

    Nora Lou Roos founds 'GetYourBenefits!' effort in Manitoba

  63. 2020

About the CMHF

The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (CMHF) celebrates Canadian heroes whose work advances health in Canada and the world, fostering future generations of health professionals through the delivery of local and national youth education programs and awards.

This enduring tribute to our country’s rich medical history is showcased here and in our physical exhibit hall in London, ON.