(March 8, 2018)  On this international women’s day I learned of the longest running suffrage magazine in Canada.  Freyja was published in Manitoba in Icelandic beginning in 1898 and ending in 1910.  At the time it was considered the only such magazine being published in Canada.  Its editor was Margret Benedictsson.

This reminded your writer of a presentation called “Women of the Aspenland” from the mid 1990s in Alberta.  Women of the Aspenland highlighted the leadership roles played by women working together on the various farm and community groups to enhance the collective market power of everyone from grain farmers to hog growers and their contributions to Canadian society.

Hazel Braithwaite, one of our neighbours, was recognized for her long involvement with the United Farm Women of Alberta:  “Her concerns, she said, were anything that affected the farm family.”  She was later commemorated with a life-sized bronze statue by the City of Red Deer.

As readers page through the various central Alberta communities they may be surprised to see the range and multicultural variety of women and their involvement in building Central Alberta.  It would be possible to build a similar list for most of prairie Canada and those lists would be heavily weighted towards farm women.  A surprising thought given the difficulties of transportation in the early days.

In contrast with the older settlements of eastern Canada, prairie farm women occupied strong leadership roles with equal voice and votes in farm politics.  Rural prairie settler culture was not perfect, as the life of the pioneer Manitoba journalist Margret Benedictsson showed,  but through hard work and an open prairie culture,  farm women were considered “persons” in every sense of the word long before the famous five prairie women established this fact in law.

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