Academic journal article Journalism History

The Sweet Sixteen: The Journey That Inspired the Canadian Women's Press Club

Academic journal article Journalism History

The Sweet Sixteen: The Journey That Inspired the Canadian Women's Press Club

Article excerpt

Kay, Linda. The Sweet Sixteen: The Journey that Inspired the Canadian Women's Press Club. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press, 2012. 228 pp. $34.95.

American journalism can take a little bit of credit for inspiring the birth of the Canadian Women's Press Club (CWPC). in June 1904, sixteen women from across Canada were returning home from covering the St. Louis World's Fair, with train stops in Chicago and Detroit. At each stop, a local society of women's press club members greeted the Canadian, women journalists. By the time they returned to Canada, the Canadian Women's Press Club was born. It would exist for 100 years and its members would leave behind a legacy of accomplishment and distinction.

The women, exactly half Frenchspeaking and half English-speaking, had journeyed to the United States to cover the fair. Linda Kay traces their ten-day trip and the subsequent milestones of the CWPC, weaving in biographical and historical information - enough to make this a veritable feast for those interested in exploring the role of women in journalism history and getting a peek into the status of women at the turn of the century.

As the women took in the delights of the fair, they began preparing dispatches. Articles would appear in Toronto's Mail and Empire, Quebec's L'Evenement, the Manitoba Free Press, and the Toronto Telegram, among others, with each woman putting her own angle on the event all the way from how to pack for a trip to the fair to a description of its pavilions.

The club first officially met in 1906. By the 1 920s, women were writing for almost every newspaper in Canada. The CWPC had so much influence on reporting, Kay says, that an editor-in-chief of a major paper indicated that if this kept up, women might even start smoking.

Club membership peaked at 700 in the 1970s, at which point it began a decline with the rise of the second wave of feminism. In 2004, at its centennial celebrations, it announced it would fold, turning into the Media Club of Ottawa, which remains today and offers workshops, speakers, and social events to people in journalism and communications.

Lest I make the error that has befallen so many women in history, I shall name each of these women by their birth names and highlight a few accomplishments and facts. Leonise Valois of Le Canada became the first woman to publish a volume of poetry in Quebec. Katherine Hughes was voted best biographer of 1911 in the United States and Canada and later became Alberta's first provincial archivist. …

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