Thérèse Casgrain (1896-1981)
Thérèse Casgrain spent most of her life as a political activist. Her first fight involved the right for women to vote in Quebec. In this respect, she founded the Provincial Franchise Committee in 1921 to campaign for women's suffrage alongside Marie Gérin-Lajoie of Idola Saint-Jean, Professor Carrie Derick of McGill University and physician Grace Ritchie from England. She then created or contributed to the establishment of other organizations such as the League for Women's Rights in 1926, the League for Human Rights, the Quebec Branch of the Voice of Women, a movement against nuclear weapons in the early 1960s, and the Fédération des femmes du Québec (FFQ) in 1966.
Her resolve to defend the rights of women and fight for social reform quickly led to politics. In 1942, Mrs. Casgrain stood as an independent Liberal candidate in a federal by-election, but was not elected. That same year, she campaigned against conscription. In 1946, she joined the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), a reform party and precursor of the New Democratic Party. Five years later, she was named leader of the Quebec wing of the CCF, making her the first female leader of a political party in Canada. Between 1952 and 1963, she was a candidate in seven elections, yet won none. Mrs. Casgrain ended her political career as a Senator in 1970-1971.