October is Women's History Month, and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC) is highlighting women who have played an important role in the history of the country, with their skills, intelligence, leadership, expertise, and community involvement.

Note that more women of national historic significance will be added to this selection in the future.


Dr. Emily Stowe
Portrait by Herbert E. Simpson
© Wilfrid Laurier University Archives & Special Collections

Dr. Emily Stowe National Historic Person

Dr. Emily Stowe was designated a national historic person in July 1995.

Emily Stowe's crusade for female suffrage and higher education for women placed her in the vanguard of the women's rights movement in Canada.

Commemorative plaque location: 76 Grenville Street, Toronto, Ontario


Florence Wyle
Florence Wyle, 1930
© Royal Canadian Academy of Arts / Library and Archives Canada / PA-103157

Florence Wyle National Historic Person

Florence Wyle was designated a national historic person in July 2011.

Florence Wyle was one of Canada's leading, most talented and prolific sculptors. She was the first female sculptor to become a full member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1938.

Commemorative plaque location: 276 St. Clair Avenue East, Toronto, Ontario


Kathleen Coleman
Kathleen Blake Coleman, ca. 1890s
© The Carbon Studio / Library and Archives Canada / PA-164916

Kathleen Blake Coleman National Historic Person

Kathleen Blake Coleman was designated a national historic person in July 2011.

An innovative journalist, Coleman ran the “Woman’s Kingdom” pages of the former Daily Mail and then Mail and Empire in Toronto, from 1889 to 1911.

Commemorative plaque location: 234 Front Street East, Toronto, Ontario


Mazo de la Roche
Mazo de la Roche, December 18, 1927
© Archives of Ontario, F 1075-13, H 1786

Mazo De La Roche National Historic Person

Mazo de la Roche was designated a national historic person in November 1976.

Mazo de la Roche was a prolific writer whose works include novels, short stories, plays, and autobiography. Her novel Jalna won the prestigious Atlantic Monthly prize in 1927.

Commemorative plaque location: 1507 Clarkson Road North, Mississauga, Ontario


Viola Desmond
Viola Desmond, early 1940s
© Wanda and Joe Robson Collection. 16-80-30220. Beaton Institute, Cape Breton University

Viola Desmond National Historic Person

Viola Desmond (1914-1965) was designated a national historic person in July 2017.

In mid-20th century Canada, Viola Desmond brought nationwide attention to the African Nova Scotian community’s struggle for equal rights.

Commemorative plaque location: no plaque in place


War brides
War brides en route to Canada aboard S.S. Letitia waving goodbye to families and friends.
© Barney J. Gloster/Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-175794

War Brides National Historic Event

War Brides were designated as a national historic event in September 1997.

This designation commemorates the contributions of the some 48,000 war brides who came to Canada as a direct result of Canadian participation in the Second World War.

Commemorative plaque location: 1055 Marginal Road, Pier 21, Halifax, Nova Scotia


Mary Ann Shadd
Mary Ann Shadd
© National Archives of Canada / C-29977

Mary Ann Shadd National Historic Person

Mary Ann Shadd was designated a national historic person in November 1994.

Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Mary Ann Shadd became a prominent activist in the Underground Railroad refugee communities of Upper Canada during the 1850s.

Commemorative plaque location: 177 King Street East, Chatham, Ontario


Sara Jeannette Duncan
Sara Jeannette Duncan
© Johnston and Hoffman / Library and archives Canada / C-046447

Sara Jeannette Duncan National Historic Person

Sara Jeannette Duncan was designated a national historic person in September 2014.

Sara Jeannette Duncan was a well-known figure both in Canadian literature and in the history of women in journalism.

Commemorative plaque location: 96 West Street, Brantford, Ontario


Nominate a site, person, or event

Are you aware of a person, event or site that should be recognized by the Government of Canada for its national historic significance? Learn about the National Program of Historical Commemoration, or contact the Secretariat for the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada at pc.clmhc-hsmbc.pc@canada.ca, or toll-free phone number: 1-855-283-8730.

Search through over 3,600 designations listed in the Directory of Federal Heritage Designations (DFHD)

The Directory of Federal Heritage Designations offers a complete list of federal designations stemming from various programs. It includes information on districts, buildings, events, railway stations, lighthouses and people who are of historic value or interest.