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Trailblazers of the First 100 Years

At the end of August this year, 18 Trailblazing Manitoba Women were honoured at the Manitoba Legislature. Framed pictures of each were placed in the hall next to the Legislative Chambers along with a plaque to honour over 100 years of Trailblazing Manitoba Women in politics. Thus, to celebrate this fabulous event, we have been posting daily biographies for each of the Trailblazers on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Trailblazers 1-6:



On June 29, 1920, Edith made Manitoba history by becoming the first woman to be elected as an MLA in the Manitoba Legislature.

Edith was interested in social welfare and pressed for the passing of the Child Welfare bill. Additionally, she pressed for the censorship of motion pictures as well as the bill for widows to have increased powers over the estates of their husbands.



A trailblazing woman hailing from St. George, Manitoba, Elin was the 1st ICELANDIC WOMAN and the 2nd FEMALE MLA to be elected into the MB Legislature (1936-41).

Elin was also a member of the Social Credit League.

The Icelandic women’s suffrage was highly influential in the women’s movement for enfranchisement in Manitoba.



Forbes was elected into the The Legislative Assembly of Manitoba/Assemblée législative du Manitoba on November 26, 1959.

She was born on a farm near Manitou, Manitoba in 1910, and completed her schooling in the area as well (Manitoba Historical Society).

On February 28, 1963 Forbes became the 1ST FEMALE SPEAKER to be appointed in provincial history, and the 2nd female Speaker in the entire Commonwealth.

Additionally, the was the 1ST FEMALE CABINET MINISTER to hold the ministerial portfolios of Urban Development and Municipal Affairs.



Born May 9, 1930 in British Columbia, educated at University of Manitoba and then University of Oxford, Smith was elected to the Manitoba Legislature on November 17, 1981 for Osborne.

In 1981, Smith became the FIRST FEMALE DEPUTY PREMIER of Manitoba.

In 2012, Smith became a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Smith is very involved in women’s issues on both local and global scales, and holds appointments to various committees such as the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.



Born in Halifax in 1942, and then educated at Dalhousie University, Smith College, University of Calgary, and Georgetown University. Carstairs was elected to the The Legislative Assembly of Manitoba in 1986.

After the 1988 general election, the Liberal Party became the Official Opposition with Sharon Carstairs becoming the 1ST WOMAN TO LEAD AN OFFICIAL OPPOSITION PARTY in a Canadian Legislature.

In 1994, she was appointed to represented Manitoba in the Senate of Canada where she served until 2011.

In 2017 Carstairs was appointed to the Order of Canada.

Photo from Dalhousie University News.



Elected to the The Legislative Assembly of Manitoba/Assemblée législative du Manitoba in 1986, Mitchelson is the LONGEST SERVING FEMALE MLA IN MANITOBA with 30 YEARS OF SERVICE (1986-2016).

Throughout her career Mitchelson held many ministerial portfolios and also served as Deputy Leader.

In 2000, she was appointed as Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, making her the ONLY WOMAN to lead the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party.

Stay tuned for the update of the NEXT 6 Trailblazers!

All biographical information has been sourced from the Manitoba Historical Society as well as the Government of Manitoba’s Trailblazer Booklet. 


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