Women You Should Know – January Women Of Note

You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you’re going to live. Now.

— Joan Baez

January 23, 1789, Frances Brooke, author, died in England. Frances wrote The History of Emily Montague. She is said to be the first novelist in North America and The History of Emily Montague has been acknowledged as the first Canadian novel.

January 3, 1827, Letitia Creighton (Youmans) was born in Hamilton Township in Upper Canada. She was the founder of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) in Canada. Under Letitia’s direction, the members of the WCTU worked tirelessly to find ways to combat the evils of alcohol. As well, Letitia became an outstanding speaker and campaigner for women’s rights. The WCTU continued to grow, opening chapters throughout the country. In 1885, a national WCTU was formed and Youmans became the first president, a position she held until 1889.

January 30, 1836, marked the death of Betsy Ross. Betsy became known as the person who made the first American flag. However, since the story was not told until 1870 and by Betsy’s grandson, there is some question as to its validity. The story was first published in Harper’s Monthly publication in 1873 and quickly became a legend that has been included in many school textbooks.

January 9, 1914, entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee was born. She received worldly recognition for bringing class to the profession of stripping. Gypsy had many other talents. She wrote several novels, her first one in 1943 entitled Lady of Burlesque. She also penned a play in 1945 entitled Doll Face. In addition Miss Lee became a film and television celebrity. Gypsy: A Memoir (1999) is the title of the autobiography of Gypsy Rose Lee. It was eventually brought to Broadway as a musical.

January 28, 1914, Nellie McClung along with the Political Equality League, organized a mock play entitled Women’s Parliament, in the Walker Theatre in Winnipeg. The purpose of the demonstration was to secure the right to vote for women in Manitoba. The theater was packed with women of all ages and the play was successful in bringing attention to this important issue.

January 28, 1968, Sarah McLachlan, a popular signer and songwriter was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1996, Sarah founded “Lilith Fair,” a female music festival whose purpose is to advance the careers of women in the music business. As a result of her ingenuity, in 1998 Sarah received the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Visionary Award.

January 19, 1989, Heather Erxleben Heather became the first female combat soldier in Canada, following her graduation from the Canadian Forces Base in Wainwright Alberta.

January 22, 1992, Roberta Bondar, Canada’s first female astronaut rocketed into space on the US space shuttle Discovery. Bondar’s application was chosen from thousands of applicants.


Brooke, F., and Shugrue, M.F. (Ed.) (1974). The History of Emily Montague, 1769. Flowering of the Novel, 1740-1775 Series, vol 85. Taylor and Francis.

Lee, G.R. (1999). Gypsy: A Memoir. Frog Ltd.