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Distinguished Canadians: Charlotte Whitton

The Story

With a slap of her hands, Charlotte Whitton makes a point about Canadian politics and society with conviction. In this 1972 CBC-TV interview, Whitton talks about former prime minister R. B. Bennett, and her work to help the poor during the Great Depression. She also talks about the definition of "Canadian", and what it means to her personally. Lastly, she reveals her reasons for entering politics during her years at Queen's University.

Medium: Television
Program: Distinguished Canadians
Broadcast Date: Aug. 14, 1972
Guest(s): Charlotte Whitton
Interviewer: John David Hamilton
Duration: 26:13

Did You know?

• Charlotte Whitton was born in Renfrew, Ont. in 1896.


• She was active in politics at an early age as editor of the Queen's University newspaper during the First World War.


• From 1920 to 1941 Whitton was director of the Canadian Council on Child Welfare. This position offered her the opportunity to fight for the rights of the poor and unemployed.


• After resigning in 1941, Whitton led a crusade for equal rights for women in the workplace. But her position was juxtaposed with a strong opposition to liberal divorce laws and working mothers.


• Whitton became Canada's first woman mayor of a major city in 1951. She was re-elected in 1952 and 1954, and again in 1960 and 1962. Although defeated in 1964, she continued to serve the City of Ottawa as an alderman until her retirement in 1972.


• Whitton died in Ottawa in 1975.



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