BPW History

BPWC Timeline Women's Rights Famous Five More About BPW

BPW Canada (officially known as the CFBPWC in 1930) was established in 1930, although some Canadian clubs existed provincially prior to that date.  

BPW Canada was incorporated on June 7, 1930 under the name "The Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs." On October 20, 2010, granted by Industry Canada, BPW Canada's corporation’s name changed to: “The Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women/La Fédération Canadienne des Femmes de Carrières, Commerciales et Professionnelles"

Below is a photo from BPW Canada's 5th National Convention (first Biennial) held in Calgary, Alberta in 1935. 

Convention 5th

BPW Canada was a founding member of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women, also established in 1930 which has held Consultative status at the United Nations (ECOSOC) since 1947.  Our International history can be viewed here.

BPWI history

Click here to view the BPW Canada General Timeline including Past Presidents, locations of Conventions and Congress.

BPW Canada's Recent Event Gallery

History of Women's Rights: Dr. Dorothy Williams, BPW Montreal, has graciously assembled a PowerPoint presentation featuring the History of Women’s Rights starting in 1608 up until 2011. You may find this to be an enlightening glimpse into the past.

Click here view how far we have come.

The Famous Five

A very large part of women's rights history in Canada is the story of the “Famous Five” and the “Persons” case. Click here to read a brief history on the women, their fight and the outcome.

famous five

Who were these women?

  • Emily Murphy (1868-1933) Social reformer, author, first female magistrate in the British Empire (Commonwealth) and the leader of the Famous Five.
  • Louise McKinney (1868-1931) First woman in the British Empire (Commonwealth) to be elected by both men and women to a provincial legislature, Alberta.
  • Henrietta Muir Edwards (1849-1931) Social activist, author, Convenor of Laws for the National Council of Women.
  • Irene Parlby (1868-1965) First female Cabinet Minister in Alberta, second in the British Empire (Commonwealth), first president of the Alberta Farm Women's Association.
  • Nellie McClung (1873-1951) prominent suffragist, author, orator, and first female member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

(This information is from the book "With Enthusiasm & Faith" and the Famous Five Foundation literature).

Honour these women with a "Pink Tea". Learn More

Did you know that in 2004, BPW Canada was invited to unveil the bronze monument of the “Famous Five” on Parliament Hill? Click here to read this story.

Did you know that in 1938, BPW Canada installed a bronze plaque, commemorating the Famous Five, at the Senate Chamber entrance on Parliament Hill?

Click on a photo to enlarge and view the full description.

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Did you know that the new $50 bill, unveiled in Calgary in 2004, showcased the image of the bronze monument of Alberta's Famous Five? The unveiling commemorated the 75th anniversary of the “Persons” case in 1929.

Further reading about BPW

  •  Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (1980). 1930-1980. Commemorating fifty years of service to the Status of Women. No ISBN number.
  • Deakin, Phyllis A. (1996). The History of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women, Volume 1, 1930-1968. Published by International Federation of Business and Professional Women, London, UK. ISBN 0-9562-6041-5.
  • With Enthusiasm and Faith: History of the Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, 1930-1983. Book I compiled by Elizabeth (Bess) Forbes, 1974. Book II compiled by Nazla L. Dane, 1983.
  • Perry, Sylvia G. and Livia M. Ricci (1999). Esther W. Hymer: A Bus to 42nd Street. Published by BPW International, London, England. No ISBN number.
  • Perry, Sylvia G. (2006). Empowering Women Worldwide: The History of Project Five-O. Published by Project Five-O. ISBN 978-974-7086-67-6.
  • Taylor, Margaret Allen and John Claridge Taylor (1996). The History of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women, Volume 2, 1968-1995. Published by International Federation of Business and Professional Women, London, UK. ISBN ISBN 0-9526-6042-3.

BPW: Celebrating the Milestones

BPW International

"Let us build together and see what we can make."

Lena Madesin Phillips, founder and first President of BPW International, 1930

BPW Canada Past Presidents

BPW Canada

Sharon Selkirk
Sault Ste. Marie
1994 - 1996

Jill BPW Canada

Jill Worobec
Port Coquitlam
2002 - 2004

Doris Hall

Doris Hall
2010 - 2012

cara BPW Canada

Cara Coté
2012 - 2014

BPW Canada

Colleen Allan
2014 - 2016

Jenny Gulamani Abdulla

Jenny Gulamani-Abdulla
2016 - 2018

Complete List

Remember Our History

The Famous Five

Read the story

Kathy Laing