This Week in History
For the week of Monday September 27, 1999
On October 1, 1883 Emily Stowe opened the Women's Medical College in Toronto. One day later Jenny Trout launched the Kingston Women's Medical College. Both pioneered the entry of Canadian women into the medical profession.
Some women decided to challenge these barriers. Emily Stowe was the first. After being refused admission to the Toronto School of Medicine, Stowe went to the New York Medical College for Women. She returned to Toronto and established a medical practice. In 1871, in an effort to obtain her medical licence, Stowe joined Jenny Trout in attending one semester at the Toronto School of Medicine, but the two women were taunted by angry male students. Trout went instead to the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania. She returned to Toronto and became the first woman in Canada to pass the College of Physicians and Surgeon's licensing exam. She opened a private medical practice and provided a free medical dispensary for the poor. Stowe continued to practice without a licence until 1880.
Trout and Stowe both established Women's Medical Colleges to give Canadian women a supportive place to study medicine. The two institutions merged in 1895 to become the Ontario Medical College for Women. This inspired the creation of the Women's College Hospital, a leader in women's medical care and education.
Meanwhile, Stowe's experiences had taught her that improvements in women's status were needed. She founded the Toronto Women's Literary Social and Science Club, which later became the Canadian Women's Suffrage Association. It helped Canadian women obtain the vote.
Dr. Jenny Trout and Dr. Emily Stowe were designated as nationally significant for bringing medical education to Canadian women, and Stowe for her suffrage leadership. The Women's College Hospital has also been recognized for enhancing medical care and medical education for women.
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