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14 May, 2017

THE UNRECOGNIZED ROLE OF MOTHERS IN HISTORY

As Mother’s Day is celebrated on May 14th, Isabelle Underwood’s 1986 article published in the yearbook of the Bruce County Historical Society and adapted by Bob Johnston is a timely acknowledgement of what she saw as the unrecognized role of women in Canadian history, particularly her Bruce County.

"Although tales of our pioneer women are conspicuously absent, let us never forget the contribution they made to the early history of our country. Because women are seldom mentioned in history, there is a tendency to believe that their time was completely absorbed by their families and home, areas which have traditionally received little recognition. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many women were active in community organizations and political associations. Too often, then as now, they worked behind the scenes while men held the office and received the credit.

"My own paternal grandmother, Mary (Leeder) Clazie, was a good example of this kind of woman. In an era without household conveniences, she raised seven children, all of whom were educated and well read. She was an ardent supporter of Nellie McClung and Agnes McPhail. I can still remember as a little girl being taken to hear Miss McPhail speak at S.S. #4 Saugeen. What an exciting evening!

"My grandmother was a worker for the United Farmers of Ontario and Farm Forum. During family gatherings she presided over lively political discussions. Her eldest son fought in the trenches during World War One; her youngest son was severely wounded during World War Two. During that war she knit hundreds of pairs of socks and almost two hundred sweaters for the war effort. The surprising thing is that my grandmother’s life and the lives of many women were not considered unusual---certainly not unusual enough to record.

"A hundred years from now when our great grandchildren write the history books of their day, will they think women played no significant role in this age? The time has come for women to more actively seek positions in our society for which recognition is given. So many girls are growing up with aspirations that are totally inadequate for living in the 21st century. We, as women teachers, have a vital role in helping to shape their future, both in guiding their education and by the example we set for them.

"Too many of us wait for the men to make the decisions or say we haven’t the time. Each of us is capable of achieving more than we know. We owe it to our children."

Here's to all mothers, past and present, on their special day -- and every day!

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