Trailblazing - Women in Canada since 1867

NEW! Trailblazing is now available for circulation. For further information, please contact the International Sales Team at Science North.

What has it meant to be a woman in Canada throughout its 150 year history? This nationally travelling exhibit, created and toured by the Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum, explores how women have transformed Canadian politics, work, and everyday life. Trailblazing highlights the experiences of women - mothers, sisters, daughters, partners, and friends - from all walks of Canadian life.

Trailblazing explores 150 years of women's issues in Canada through the themes of Work, Education, Body, Politics, and Violence Against Women. Each thematic area includes historic and contemporary narratives, multi-media presentations, artifacts, and in some cases, hands-on interactives. Learn about the challenges faced by women both historically and today, and discover achievements from across the country.

Highlighted throughout the exhibit are Canadian women who have been "trailblazers" in bringing about social and political change. Come learn about the accomplishments of hundreds of remarkable women. From Hide Hyodo Shimizu (a teacher who organized a school system in British Columbia's Japanese internment camps during the Second World War) to Shelia Watt-Cloutier (Nobel Peace Prize nominee in 2007), their stories will inspire.

The audio-visual bus in Trailblazing was inspired by Cora, the Women's Liberation Bookmobile, which toured Ontario in 1974. Named after prominent Canadian suffragist, E. Cora Hind, the purpose of the bus was to spread literature about women's issues to areas that did not have access to those resources. Our bus will be used as a theatre in the exhibit, showing a video featuring female led protests across the country and through time.

The exhibit includes a hands-on hockey game that features famous Canadian female players from a variety of time periods. From Lady Stanley, who played in the first recorded female hockey game in 1889, to Manon Rhéaume, the first woman to play in an NHL game, Trailblazing also explores the history of women's hockey in Canada. Come see items worn by Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser, on loan to us from the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

One of many stories told in Trailblazing, the Fleck workers' strike occurred in 1978. Women workers at the Fleck Manufacturing plant had endured horrible working conditions and sexual harassment. This strike set a precedent and challenged the labour movement to address the needs of women workers.

Between 1892 and 1969, it was illegal in Canada to advertise, sell, or distribute contraceptives. In 1936, social worker Dorothea Palmer was arrested and charged for distributing birth control information. Her trial captured the nation's attention, and sparked debate about a woman's right to contraception. Come learn more in Trailblazing.

The exhibit also examines work that still needs to be done in the 21st century with respect to women's rights, different experiences based on race, class and ethnicity, and the experiences of the 'everyday' woman.

The Trailblazing - Women in Canada since 1867 exhibit is funded in part by the Government of Canada

Project Partners: Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum, Department of Canadian Heritage / Museums Assistance Program.

The exhibit was created with assistance from the Advisory Committee of:

Dr. Gail Cuthbert Brandt
Dr. Kristina Llewellyn
Dr. Marlene Epp
Nancy Birss
Tammy Webster
Dr. Wendy Mitchinson

Trailblazing: Women in Canada since 1867 is created and produced by the Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum with the assistance and support of private collectors and individuals, and many organizations, including:

Alberta Aviation Museum Archives
Amnesty International Canada
Archives of Manitoba
Archives of Ontario
Beaton Institute, Cape Breton University
Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives
Canadian Medical Hall of Fame
Canadian Mining Hall of Fame
Canadian Press
Canadian Ski Museum and Hall of Fame|
Canadian Union of Public Employees
Canadian War Museum
Castle Kilbride National Historic Site
City of Cambridge Archives
City of Toronto Archives
City of Vancouver Archives
Dawson City Museum
Department of Canadian Heritage/Museums Assistance Program
Federated Women's Institutes of Canada
Getty Images
Glenbow Archives
Glenbow Museum
Government of Alberta
Hockey Hall of Fame
House of Commons Collection, Ottawa 
Kitchener Public Library
Law Society of Upper Canada
Legislative Library of New Brunswick
Library and Archives Canada
McCord Museum
McGill University Archives
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Mount Allison University|
Museum of Healthcare at Kingston
National Archives of Quebec in Chicoutimi, Société historique du Saguenay
Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council
Nikkei National Museum
NWT Archives
Ontario Black History Society
Provincial Archives of Alberta
Queen's University Archives
Rise Up! Feminist Archives
Royal BC Museum and Archives
Saskatchewan Archives
SFU Library Digital Collections/Simon Fraser University
The Rooms Provincial Archives Division
United Farmers Historical Society
University of Saskatchewan
University of Saskatchewan Library, University Archives and Special Collections
University of Ottawa Archives and Special Collections
University of Toronto Archives
Veterans Affairs Canada
Wilfrid Laurier University Archives and Special Collections
Yukon Archives