Dr. Isabel G. Auld, C.M., LL.D
Dr. Isabel Auld (nee Hutcheson) was the first woman to hold office as the Chancellor of the University of Manitoba, just the second woman at a Canadian university elected to this position.
Auld was born in Winnipeg to Scottish immigrants, C.G. Hutcheson, a seedsman, and Maggie (nee Davidson) Hutcheson, a dressmaker. Her early schooling and university years were In Saskatchewan. Auld earned prize money in the World Grain Fair’s judging competitions, a full scholarship that enabled her to pursue the scientific studies and lab work that led to her long, accomplished life. The Second World War, however, cut short her cytogenetic doctoral research at Montreal’s McGill University. She returned to Winnipeg in the early 1940s, marrying W. Murray Auld, C.M., in 1942.
When appointed 9th Chancellor in the University of Manitoba’s centennial year, Auld became a popular and approachable role model for female students, staff, committee members, faculty and senior administration. A member of the University’s Board of Governors and Senate for 14 years and chancellor for nine, in three successive terms, she became the “ambassador-at-large” for the University of Manitoba. Auld gained respect for her balanced judgment and wholesome concern for all university constituents. She was always interested in others.
Of a generation of women where professional employment after marriage was discouraged by society, Auld embraced and found fulfillment in community activism and voluntarism. Her brilliant mind, resolve and humanity positioned her well to see the promise of what could be.
It would be inaccurate to say that things were easy for Auld. Gender barriers at times challenged what she wanted to achieve. Her energy and abilities propelled her and motivated others. She was gifted at assessing people, ideas, implications and opportunities. When a job needed doing, Auld found a way to get it done, alone or by encouraging others to work together to accomplish it.
As a mother of three, Auld began a lifelong career of volunteer work in education, health, medical research, consumer and community outreach. Some emphasized women’s causes: Klinic, Hargrave House, the Family Bureau, Child and Family Services, Mt. Carmel Clinic, Health Sciences Centre, Cancercare Manitoba Medical Services Foundation, Middlechurch Home, and the Centre on Aging and Social Planning Council. She also supported women’s organizations.
Auld was the first woman to be elected to the Wawanesa Insurance Company Board.
Some of Auld’s papers, her extensive correspondence, speeches, and briefs are housed at the University of Manitoba, an edifying trove of accomplishment by one of Manitoba’s female trailblazer. Dr. Auld’s formal portrait is in the Elizabeth Dafoe Library, on the Fort Garry campus, a sculpture by Leo Mol graces Auld Place, and a named entrance scholarship is awarded annually.
Her many honours include honorary doctorates from the universities of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, inclusion in Winnipeg’s Citizens Hall of Fame, Order of the Buffalo Hunt, Chancellor Emerita and Member of the Order of Canada.
Dr. Isabel Auld remained active and engaged all her days.