Hannah Gale

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Hannah "Annie" Elizabeth Rolinson Gale (December 29, 1876 – August 7, 1970) was a British-born Canadian politician who was the first woman to hold an elected political position in Canada.

Early life and personal life[edit]

Gale, nicknamed Annie at an early age, was born in Netherton, West Midlands, England. The daughter of a merchant grocer and his wife, she attended an all-girls school, and upon her completion passed the Oxford Entrance Examination. As a woman, however, she was not able to become a student at Oxford University. She began helping run the family business after her father died of pneumonia. In 1901, at the age of 25, Annie married engineer William Gale. The couple and their two sons eventually left to join their extended family, who had emigrated to Canada[1] and eventually settled in Calgary, Alberta, in 1912.[2]


Gale took an active role in her new community. She began community organizing, with a focus on fixing the poor quality and high costs of fresh vegetables, as well as the lack of affordable heat and free hospitals. She played a major role in promoting the women's suffrage movement in Canada and organized Canada's Women's Ratepayers Association, the first of its kind in Canada. After women in Alberta gained the right to vote in 1916, she accepted the group's invitation to run in the 1917 city council election in Calgary.

On December 10, 1917, Gale was elected as an alderman for the Calgary City Council in the civic election. Gale became the first woman in Canada, and possibly the first in the British Commonwealth, to be elected to a position in any level of government.[3] The following year she was elected as acting mayor by her fellow members on the city council. For the first time in the British Empire, a woman performed the duties of a mayor. In the 1921 Alberta provincial election, she ran as an Independent Labour candidate in Calgary provincial. Gale was defeated and she finished 16th out of 20 candidates.

In 1924, she was elected as a public school trustee for the Calgary Board of Education. A year later she resigned when she and her family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, in hopes that the coastal climate would be beneficial to her husband's declining health. She resided there until her death in 1970.


The Canadian Magazine said of Gale, in a 1917 article: "She is exactly the type of woman who should be in public life--a feminine, gracious, magnetic personality without aggression or bombast; a woman with a charming platform manner which does not come off the instant she reaches the bottom step and stands on the floor of the hall; the type of woman of whom the West is justly proud."[4]

Gale said: "I have always believed that the mission of women in political life was to clean up politics."[5]

Feminist Nellie McClung paid tribute to Annie Gale: "Women haven't an easy time in public life and Mrs. Gale has played her part courageously and intelligently. Mrs. Gale could always be depended upon to take a sane, forward, dependable view. Her tact and charming personality have carried her through many difficulties. Women haven't an easy time in public life but they count the cost before they enter. Mrs. Gale has always upheld the standards of womanhood and we cherish the hope that she will come back to us again."[6]

In 1983, a junior high school was named after her in the Calgary community of Whitehorn.[7] In 2016, a boardroom in the municipal building in Calgary was named after her.[8]


  1. ^ Sanderson, Kay (1999). 200 Remarkable Alberta Women. Calgary: Famous Five Foundation. p. 28.
  2. ^ Foran, Max (1982). Calgary, Canada's frontier metropolis : an illustrated history. Windsor Publications. p. 196. ISBN 0-89781-055-4.
  3. ^ Caroline, Law (2007). "Canada's Most Sustainable Cities" (PDF). Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  4. ^ "Biography of Annie Gale". University of Alberta Libraries. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  5. ^ Crowson, Belinda (2016). "A hundred years of women having the vote--well, some women". Alberta History. 62: 2 – via Gale.
  6. ^ Strong-Boag, Veronica (2013). "Improving Cities: Annie Gale and Calgary, Canada". Women Suffrage and Beyond. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  7. ^ "Calgary board of education".
  8. ^ "Calgary honors first female 'alderman' Annie Gale with boardroom naming - Calgary - CBC News". Cbc.ca. Retrieved 14 September 2016.

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