E. Cora Hind
E. Cora Hind’s contributions to Manitoba extend far beyond her tireless efforts to achieve greater equality for women. Her celebrity status as an agricultural commentator in the early 1900s had a profound impact on the industry that fueled Western Canada’s economic development.
“She is the greatest prophet in the world: Fortunes and the future of great industries are affected by her forecasts,” reported the London Sunday Express in October, 1932. “Her prophecies are eagerly awaited by government experts, grain traders, transportation companies, insurance houses, banks and manufacturers for they affect the price of wheat, the cost of bread and the purchasing power of Canada.”
Hind had just arrived in London as the first woman to sail from the newly opened Port of Churchill, a development she had tirelessly promoted.
From the time she was orphaned at a young age to her death in 1942, Hind persistently broke through barriers that stood between her and her goals. Throughout her lifetime, she campaigned for women’s right to vote, the temperance movement, and workers’ rights.
Her expectations of equality and fairness were instilled in her at an early age. According to a published profile, her grandfather insisted she be treated the same as her brothers when it came to farming knowledge.
Hind moved west at the age of 21 and was initially told newspaper work was no place for a woman with no experience. So she became the first female typist in Winnipeg and served as secretary for agricultural organizations until the Free Press under J.W. Dafoe hired her as an agricultural writer in 1901. She was 40.
She was both a news reporter and a newsmaker, attracting international media coverage for the uncanny accuracy of her annual Prairie crop inspections that began in 1904. She later travelled the world writing about agriculture on a special assignment for the Free Press. Amongst her many achievements, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Manitoba in 1932.
Hind relentlessly used her typewriter and her wit as instruments for change, at times gently admonishing her readers, whether it was women for not exercising their right to vote, or farmers who failed to heed market signals.
In a September, 1939, column for the Commercial Girl’s Club newsletter, she advised: “Don’t vote for a woman because she is a woman and don’t vote against her because is one. Weigh carefully and without prejudice her abilities and experience against her men opponents and vote irrespective of sex for the one you feel will do the best job.”
Hind recognized that all of society would benefit when when women gained access to equal opportunities, and when they exercised their right to be full partners.
“The usual statement is that I am a remarkable woman because I can do it: the implication is that the average woman is too dumb to succeed at a man’s task and I resent that implication, for it is false,” she wrote.