Annie Gale, 1877-1970
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.
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