Claire Kirkland-Casgrain, Quebec feminist pioneer, dead at 91

The first woman elected to Quebec's legislature and first female judge in Quebec, Claire Kirkland-Casgrain, has died. She was 91 years old.

The 1st woman elected to the National Assembly served under Liberal premiers Jean Lesage and Robert Bourassa

Claire Kirkland-Casgrain served in two Liberal governments and was the first female provincial judge. (Radio-Canada)

The first woman elected to the Legislative Assembly of Quebec and first female judge in Quebec, Claire Kirkland-Casgrain, has died. She was 91 years old.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard expressed his sadness for the loss and said Kirkland-Casgrain will be given special honours during her funeral.

"Ms. Kirkland-Casgrain showed great commitment to Quebec politics and law, as well furthering gender equality in the province," Couillard said. 

"I would like to extend my sympathies to the family on behalf of Quebec."

Born in Palmer, Massachusetts, Kirkland-Casgrain attended McGill University for both her undergraduate degree and her law degree.

She was elected to Quebec's National Assembly – then known as the Legislative Assembly –  in a byelection in 1961, replacing her father after his death in the riding of Jacques-Cartier. 

Her historic win came more than 20 years after Quebec women received the right to vote in 1940. She would remain the only woman to sit in the legislature until her departure from politics in 1973.

She was also the first woman to be named to the Quebec cabinet, as she held several ministerial positions during her political career.

Kirkland-Casgrain resigned in 1973 to become a judge. She retired in 1991.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.