[Great Dames]

Article excerpt

Henrietta Ball Banting, Maggie Wilson, and Mabel McIntosh may not be household names, but after reading Great Dames, one could argue they should be.

This collection of biographies, edited by university professors Elspeth Cameron and Janice Dickin, brings to light the stories of 20th century Canadian women who have made an impact during their lifetime and beyond.

Dr. Henrietta Ball Banting made her mark as a much-loved obstetrician and gynecologist (practicing with Dr. Marion Hilliard, another woman profiled) as well as fulfilling duties and obligations as the widow of Dr. Frederick Banting. Although she was married for less than two years to the man who discovered insulin, Ball Banting was also very much known as the wife of the hero husband.

Ojibwa ethnologist Maggie Wilson told her stories in stark and simple language to American anthropologist Ruth Landes, leaving us an important record in their three books of the ways of Ojibwa women and families in the first half of this century.

Mabel McIntosh has had a much less public life, but no less significant as a dedicated amateur ornithologist. Starting out as a bird watcher when her marriage was falling apart, McIntosh became an avid student of bird life, contributing to field studies and research in hawk migration. …