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IN HER OWN RIGHT: SELECTED ESSAYS ON WOMEN'S HISTORY IN B. C.

Edited by Cathy Kess and Barbara Latham.

Victoria, Camosun College, c1980.
Distributed by Camosun College, 1950 Lansdowne Rd., Victoria, BC, V8P5J2.
302pp, paper, $6.00.


Grades 10 and up.
Reviewed by Jo-Anne Naslund.

Volume 11 Number 4.
1983 July.


At a glance this appears to be another dull esoteric collection of essays on women's history and of all things the history of women in British Columbia from the 1860s to the 1930s-. With essays entitled "Notes on the B.C. Protestant Orphan's Home" and "Sexism in B.C. Trade Unions," there seems little to attract an average secondary school reader. However, as clearly suggested in the preface "we have to be critical of ... presupposition" and in liberating women's history overcome that colonized attitude that consigns all things Canadian to the realm of second rate. "We must persistently reclaim our own historyŚwomen's history."

With the same vigour and pride evinced in the NFB film the Great Grand Mother, and in the prairie women's history, a Harvest Yet to Reap,* the lives of such prominent women in British Columbia as Evlyn Farris, Maria Grant, and Helena Gutteridge are made palatable without glaring generalizations, misinformation, or romanticism. How little we know of the sixty young women who emigrated aboard the Tynemouth via the Falkland Islands to Victoria. What trials and frustrations suffragettes felt when pleas to Premier McBride for provincial voting rights were rebuffed time and time again. How clear was the vision of equality held by Agnes Deans Cameron, the first female high school teacher and principal in B.C., and whose maxim was "The greatest hindrance to success is self-distrust, and a lack of originality."

A wealth of carefully synthesized information is presented that could only be obtained by thorough researching of primary sources. Each essay is well documented, but the use of innumerable quotes never interferes with the easy-to-read style and vigorous tone. The individual contributions of fifteen writers, including Marie Campbell, Diane Crossley, Nora Lupton, Deborah Nilson, Mary Powell, and Roberta Pazdro, have been admirably edited so that unity and coherence are achieved. Excellent bibliographies, a credit to Linda Hale's research, citing primary sources, articles, non-print materials and sources for further research follow each essay. The appended biographical information is an invaluable reference as only three of the twenty women could be located in Canadiana Encyclopedia. The lack of an index is a minor shortcoming. The format, however, is sorrowful; a large, attractive hardback would have shown with greater clarity the beauty and interesting details of the many original photographs and reprinted documents.

This publication is a must for public and high school library collections in British Columbia. As well, the scholarship qualifies it as an essential reference for all colleges and universities offering Canadian and women's studies. *Reviewed vol. V/2 Spring 1977 p.78.


Jo-Anne Naslund, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
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