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Owen, Eda

In 1917, Eda Owen of Edmonton was handed one of the most unusual jobs a woman could hold at the time. She became a weather lady for the Dominion Meteorological Office of Canada. But according to Dorothy Field, the job came more by default than design.

Her husband had originally been appointed to the job in 1915, but he went off to fight in World War I and he died in service in 1917. So at that point, Eda, who had been working in the office, which was actually their home, continued on and was put in charge of the office.

Eda's home and the meteorological station were located at 63rd Street and 112th Avenue.

Well, its' very interesting because there was nothing special about it. It was a home in the Highlands district of Edmonton, it looked like any other home on the street, essentially what's known as a "four-square house": two stories with a pyramid-shaped roof.

Except that on top of the roof was a rather large tower, which had various weather instruments on top of it.

An upstairs window was turned into a doorway so Eda could climb onto the roof and up the tower to read the instruments. Then she sent weather reports twice daily to the meteorological office in Toronto.

She would get up very early every morning, about 20 to six in the morning, and start reading her instruments, and there were 26 instruments located in her front room, in her backyard and on the roof. And these included such things as terrestrial radiators, hydrometers, maximum/minimum thermometers, self-recording rain and snow gauges, anemometers(which are wind gauges), thermographs and solar thermometers.

Eda Owen soon gained a reputation for her unusual job, and she became known the world over as simply "The Weather Lady".

In fact, women were excluded by law from many occupations. And it was only because she was a war widow that she was able to keep this job in the federal government service. And she had visitors from around the world: academics, explorers and aviators.

Eda Owen held her meteorological position from 1917 to 1943. She later died in Calgary in 1957.