Katherine Hughes (activist)

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Katherine Hughes
Katherine Hughes (activist).jpg
Katherine Angelina Hughes

(1876-11-12)November 12, 1876
Emerald Junction, Prince Edward Island
DiedApril 26, 1925(1925-04-26) (aged 48)
The Bronx, New York
Other namesCaitlín Ní Aodha[1]
Occupationjournalist, writer, political activist
Known forfirst provincial archivist of Alberta, journalism of the 1904 St. Louis World Fair, Irish activism
Notable work
Father Lacombe, the black-robe voyageur

Katherine Angelina Hughes (November 12, 1876 – April 26, 1925) was a Canadian journalist, author, archivist, and political activist. She founded the Catholic Indian Association in 1901 and was the secretary of the Catholic Women's League of Canada. She was the first provincial archivist for Alberta.

Early life and education[edit]

Hughes was born on November 12, 1876,[1] in Emerald, Prince Edward Island,[2] to John Wellington Hughes, the owner of a livery yard and shop, and Annie Laurie O'Brien. Her family was Irish Catholic.[3] She received her education at the Notre Dame Convent and the Prince of Wales College, graduating in 1892 with a first-class teacher's license.[1]


Little is known about Hughes' early career, but she is believed to have been a missionary to Catholics in the late 19th century.[3] She became a teacher at the Akwesasne Reserve in summer 1899[1] and founded the Catholic Indian Association in 1901.[4] She ended her position as a teacher at Akwesasne in 1902 to become a writer.[3]

Hughes participated in the Women's Canadian Club of Edmonton in the early 20th century.[1] She was the secretary of the Catholic Women's League of Canada.[5]

Writing and journalism[edit]

Hughes declared that she planned to be a professional writer in 1902, after retiring from her teaching at Akwesasne.[3] She helped establish the Canadian Women's Press Club in 1904.[1] She worked for The Montreal Daily Star from 1903 to 1906,[3] covering the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.[6] She wrote Albert Lacombe's biography entitled Father Lacombe, the black-robe voyageur, which was published in 1911.[1][7]


Hughes became the first provincial archivist for Alberta in 1908, while residing in Edmonton.[2] Shortly after leaving this position, she began working for Alberta Premier Alexander Rutherford, also working for his successor Arthur Sifton.[2]

In 1913, Hughes began working for the Agent General of Alberta in London.[8] Hughes toured Ireland during this time and became involved in Gaelic revival. She resigned from her position in London in 1917; the following year, she began working for the Irish National Bureau in Washington, D.C. Éamon de Valera chose her to be the Canadian National Organizer of the Self-Determination League. In this position, she worked on secret, sensitive tasks; according to Australian historian Richard Davis, semi-secrecy of such tasks "had to be preserved to avoid deportation from countries like Australia and New Zealand".[8]


Hughes died on April 26, 1925,[1] in The Bronx, New York,[2] due to cancer. According to Fort Edmonton Park, her work was initially "forgotten, or perhaps ignored", only being acknowledged long after her death.[2]


  • Katherine Hughes: A Life and a Journey by Padraig Ó Siadhail[5]
  • Return of The Wild Goose by Jane Ledwell[9]
  • In the Promised Land of Alberta's North, The Northern Journal of Katherine Hughes (Summer 1909), edited and introduced by Ken Kaiser and Merrily Aubrey[10]
  • Vernacular Currents in Western Canadian Historiography: The Passion and Prose of Katherine Hughes by F.G. Roe, Roy Lito and Lyle Dick[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Hughes, Katherine (Catherine) Angelina". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. University of Toronto. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e MacKenzie, Kaltie. "Edmontonians in the Spotlight: Katherine Hughes". Fort Edmonton Park. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Ó Siadhail, Pádraig (2004). "Katherine Angelia Hughes". Canadian Journal of Irish Studies. 30 (1): 70–73. doi:10.2307/25515507. JSTOR 25515507.
  4. ^ Swan, Michael. "History finally recognizes Katherine Hughes". Western Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  5. ^ a b Ross, Sheila. "For God and Canada: The Early Years of the Catholic Women's League in Alberta" (PDF). University of Manitoba. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  6. ^ Kay, Linda (2012). The Sweet Sixteen: The Journey That Inspired The Canadian Women's Press Club. McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-7735-3967-9. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  7. ^ "Father Lacombe, the black-robe voyageur". Library of Congress. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  8. ^ a b Mclaughlin, Robert (2013). Irish Canadian Conflict and the Struggle for Irish Independence, 1912-1915. University of Toronto Press. p. 123. ISBN 978-1-4426-1097-2. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  9. ^ Cole, Sally. "Jane Ledwell explores the life of Katherine Hughes in poetry". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  10. ^ "Alberta Records Publication Board Selections". Historical Society of Alberta. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  11. ^ "The West and Beyond". University of Washington Press. Retrieved 15 April 2019.