In the Fall of 2017, I will be teaching an eight week course about the history of Women in Power at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. Click here for more information and to register:
Time and Date:
03 Oct 2017 – 21 Nov 2017
7:00PM – 9:00PM
Powerful women have presented themselves as warrior queens, rulers by divine right, wives and mothers and, most recently, as elected officials. We’ll examine the most significant female political figures in history, including Boadicea, Queen Isabella, Queen Elizabeth I, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher and Hillary Clinton. Through lively lectures and discussions, you’ll learn the story of women in political life. Why are women still underrepresented in political life? Join Carolyn Harris for a fascinating look at the often-neglected place of women in power from Cleopatra to Angela Merkel.
My latest feature article for Canada’s History Magazine is entitled “The Queen’s Land: The colourful stories behind the royal names embedded in Canada’s geography.” I discuss the royal personages who gave their names to Canada’s cities and landscapes, revealing the fascinating historical figures behind Canadian places such as Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia; Fredericton, New Brunswick; Prince Edward Island; Lake Louise, Alberta; and Prince George, British Columbia.
The August-September issue of Canada’s History Magazine will be available on newsstands in the coming weeks.
My thoughts about Queen Victoria and her opposition to women’s suffrage have been quoted in the New York Post as part of a list of facts about the famous Queen, who is currently being portrayed by Jenna Coleman in the Victoria TV series on PBS. The quotes are an excerpt from a longer interview with the University of Alberta Faculty of Law blog about Queen Victoria, her family and women’s rights.
Click here to read Thank queen of ‘Victoria’ for this Oval Office centerpiece in the New York Post.
“When Queen Victoria granted a royal charter to establish Queen’s College in Kingston in 1841, she was 22 and had reigned for four years. Over the course of her nearly 64-year reign (1837–1901), Victoria shaped key events in Canadian history, including the aftermath of the rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada, the relationship between the Crown and the First Nations, and Confederation. The Queen also shaped Canadian culture and institutions, and her birthday remains a national holiday in Canada.”
Ishbel Marie Marjoribanks Hamilton-Gordon, Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair, vice-regal consort, author, philanthropist and women’s rights advocate (born 14 March 1857 in London, United Kingdom; died 18 April 1939 in Aberdeen, United Kingdom). As Vice-Regal Consort to Governor General John Campbell Hamilton-Gordon, Earl of Aberdeen, from 1893 until 1898, Lady Aberdeen organized the National Council of Women in Canada, became first sponsor of the Women’s Art Association of Canada and helped found the Victorian Order of Nurses. Lady Aberdeen was the first woman to address the House of Commons and the first woman to receive an honorary degree in Canada.
Her Royal Highness The Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, Marchioness of Lorne was the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and vice-regal consort of Canada from 1878 to 1883 (born 18 March 1848 in London, United Kingdom; died 3 December 1939 in London, United Kingdom). Louise was the first member of the royal family to visit British Columbia. As vice-regal consort, she promoted the arts in Canada, including the founding of the National Gallery of Canada and Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Lake Louise and the province of Alberta were named in her honour.
For more of my writing about Princess Louise in Canada, see my chapter “Royalty at Rideau Hall: Lord Lorne, Princess Louise and the Emergence of the Canadian Crown” in Canada and the Crown: Essays in Constitutional Monarchy
My latest article in the Canadian Encyclopedia is a profile of a little known Mother of Confederation. Elizabeth Lee (Owen) Macdonald was born into one of Prince Edward Island’s elite families and married Andrew Archibald Macdonald, a Father of Confederation. She assumed leadership positions in both Island society and women’s organizations within the Church of England. In later life, she wrote a nine-part series of articles on local history titled “Charlottetown Fifty Years Ago” for Prince Edward Island Magazine.
My latest article in the Canadian Encyclopedia is about Mercy Anne Coles, a diarist and one of the key witnesses to the negotiations that preceded Canada’s Confederation in 1867. Mercy Coles was one of the daughters of George Coles, the first premier of Prince Edward Island. She attended the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences with her parents. Her diary, Reminiscences of Canada in 1864, is one of the most detailed sources about the events that preceded Confederation. The diary includes descriptions of the Fathers of Confederation and their personalities and brings light to the social politics of mid-19th-century Canada.
My most recent article in the Canadian Encyclopedia is about Queen Victoria and her role in Canadian history as a “Mother of Confederation.” Queen Victoria succeeded to the throne at age 18, following the death of her uncle, William IV, in 1837. She became an ardent imperialist and took an intense interest in her colonial subjects and her role as head of a vast British empire where “the sun never set.” Queen Victoria favoured Confederation and acted as a unifying influence for Canada’s provinces. While the Queen never visited Canada, five of her nine children spent time in Canada, where her name has been given to numerous public buildings, streets, communities and physical features. Queen Victoria also exerted a profound cultural influence, popularizing white wedding dresses, family Christmases and the use of anesthesia during childbirth.