In fall 2019, the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) approached Guelph Museums about an exhibition that would mark the 75th anniversary of CFUW Guelph. Through the stories of local women, who fought for the advancement of the status of women, the exhibition began to take shape. The goal was to write the history of Her Story and to share women’s legacies in Guelph, past and present.
Then, in March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the temporary closure of Guelph Museums. What began as a display in the museum became a major research project and a virtual exhibition.
CFUW Guelph sought a partnership with the Community Engaged Scholarship Institute and the College of Arts at the University of Guelph. Under the guidance of Professor Catherine Carstairs, nine students undertook the research and writing and the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory agreed to host the virtual exhibition.
Her Story: Trailblazers of Guelph and Wellington County celebrates women who have led the way towards a diverse and gender inclusive community. The project aimed to share the stories of cisgender women, trans women, two-spirit, and gender non-conforming people. We recognize the historical barriers faced by all women. We acknowledge that Black, Indigenous and People of Colour and LGBTQ2IA+ women have faced and continue to face even greater barriers.
The featured trailblazers are activists, artists, caregivers, health care workers, mothers, politicians, scientists, and writers, as well as women-led organizations. We celebrate their accomplishments. They show us that change is possible.
Tito Alawode, Kim Anderson, Parvathi Basrur, Lois Betteridge, Norma Bowen, Deanna Clatworthy, Amy Ellard-Gray, Karen Farbridge, Anne Godfrey, Adelaide Hoodless, Gwen Jacob, Suzy Lake, Jean Little, Marisse Scott, Shakiba Shayani, Jan Sherman, Audny-Cashae Stewart, Gayle Valeriote, Marva Wisdom, and Anne-Marie Zajdlik
Canadian Federation of University Women – Guelph, Chalmers Community Services, Guelph-Wellington Women In Crisis, The Suffrage Movement in Guelph and Wellington County, and Zonta Club of Guelph
Tanesha Black, Julia Cole, Shelby Mawson, Sofia Mayer, Emma Ongman, Brittany Pompilii, Anne Sanatagi, Nicole Scott, and Katrina Stephany
The project benefitted from the invaluable guidance of Susan Brown, Kim Martin, Mihaela Ilovan, and Thomas Smith of the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory. CFUW Guelph, through Isobel Boyle, Mary McEwen and Teresa McKeeman, provided inspiration and key support. Many historians shared their research in women’s history and the history of Guelph. Thank you to Heidi Bohaker, Christine Bold, Vicki Hodgkinson, Franca Iacovetta, Kris Inwood, Melissa McAfee, and Alison Norman. Trailblazers were nominated by Denise Francis of the Guelph Black Heritage Society, Sarah Dermer at Chalmers Community Services, and Amanda Derksen at the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, as well as by individuals from across the region.