Celebrating Canadian Women’s History Month

Category: Heritage

Noraleen Young

Alpha Chi, Purdue

October is Canada’s Women’s History Month and I wish to highlight several Canadian Thetas. You can find more at Notable Thetas and select the category “Canadian.” Please let us know about other notable Canadian Thetas!

  • Maud Leonora Menten, Sigma/Toronto, made strides in the field of medical research. Menten was one of the earliest women to earn a medical degree. She worked both in the United States as a pathologist at the University of Pittsburgh (1923-1950) and at the British Columbia Medical Research Institute (1951-1953.) If you have done work in biochemistry, you may have heard of the Michaelis-Menten equation, named in part for Maud.
  • Marie-Claire Kirkland Strover, Beta Psi/McGill, was the first woman elected to Quebec’s assembly, the first woman appointed a cabinet minister in Quebec, the first woman appointed acting premier, and the first woman judge to serve in the Quebec Provincial Court.
  • Florence Elliott Whyard, Gamma Epsilon/Western, was an author and journalist. In 1975 she was elected to serve as Territorial Councilor in the Yukon Territory. Whyard was mayor of Whitehorse, Yukon. Whyard was awarded the Order of Canada in 1983.
  • Marlene Stewart Streit, Gamma Gamma/Rollins, is considered one of the most successful Canadian amateur female golfers, winning Australian, British, United States, and Canadian women’s amateur golf championship titles. In 2004, Streit was the first Canadian to be inducted in the World Golf Hall of Fame, and in 2006, she was made a member of the Order of Canada.
  • Madge Robertson Watt, Sigma/Toronto, worked to establish women’s institutes in the United Kingdom, like ones she established in British Columbia. She was appointed as a member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1919. Watt became a leading advocate for a worldwide association for rural women and served as the first president of the Associated Countrywomen of the World.
  • Adelaide MacDonald Sinclair, Sigma/Toronto, served as president of Kappa Alpha Theta from 1938-1942. In 1942, she was appointed the first director of the Women’s Royal Canadian Navy. After the war, she was the first Canadian delegate to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and served as both chair of the UNICEF board and deputy directory. She was present in 1965 when UNICEF received the Nobel Peace Prize. She once said of Theta, “The world should be a better place because Kappa Alpha Theta exists.”