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Annie Gale, 1877-1970

Ladies\’ cricket club in Calgary, Alberta, 1922. Mrs. Annie Gale, captain, seated second row, fourth from left. Mouldy carrots and the high cost of housing in Calgary in 1912 helped transform a conservative immigrant housewife into a determined suffragette.

When Annie and William Gale emigrated from England to Canada, they arrived in the middle of an economic boom. Fresh, often inferior, vegetables were so expensive that Annie asked why. It turned out that local storekeepers brought produce from British Columbia on contract; they couldn't use locally grown produce. Annie couldn't believe it - or what immigrant families were forced to pay for a home. Then she heard that livestock on isolated farms got more medical attention than did pregnant women. That did it. Over the next few years, she organized the Consumers League, the Vacant Lots Garden Club, the Free Hospitals League, and the Women's Ratepayers Association. She encouraged women to take part in municipal politics, not as partisan politicians, but as people guided by the righteousness and justice of each issue.

Members of town planning commission, Calgary, Alberta, ca. 1915-1916. On steps of Public Library, Central Park [Memorial Park]. L-R back row: (in doorway to right of lady) Doctor C. Stanley Mahood (Medical officer of Health for city). L-R third row: unknown; unknown; William R. Reader (right rear of Graves). L-R second row: Ike Ruttle; Arthur Graves; George Craig; unknown; Mrs. Annie Gale (in dark dress with white ruffle). L-R front row: unknown; Mayor Mike Costello; unknown; unknown; unknown;Doctor George W. Kerby. In 1917 she was elected to Calgary city council, the first woman alderman in the British Empire. Annie served as acting mayor on occasion, again the first for a woman. In 1924, she was elected to the school board.

Excerpted from 200 Remarkable Alberta Women by Kay Sanderson with permission from the Famous Five Foundation

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††††††††††† For more on the history of settlement in Alberta, visit Peelís Prairie Provinces.