Marking a century of women on Winnipeg City Council

New commemorative piece unveiled on International Women’s Day

Jessie Kirk

Jessie Kirk’s name may not be instantly recognizable to Winnipeg residents, but she has a significant part in our City Council’s history. This year marks 100 years since she was inaugurated as the first woman on City Council on January 4, 1921. She was elected by voters in December 1920.

She helped lead the way for other women to run and hold office. In all, 33 women have served on City Council. It would be 71 years after Kirk took office, that Winnipeg elected its first, and so far, only woman Mayor, Susan A. Thompson in 1992.

“Working on this project was a great opportunity for me to learn more about the women elected to Council over the years,” said Sarah Ramsden, Senior Archivist for the City of Winnipeg.

Fittingly, the building that bears Thompson’s name will be home to the new display, which features the names, photos, and dates of all women to serve on Winnipeg City Council. It was unveiled on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021.

Old Kildonan Councillor Devi Sharma wanted to ensure the legacy of all women who served on Winnipeg City Council is not forgotten and lead this initiative. She herself made history when she became the City’s first woman Speaker of Council in 2013.

“We took great care to make sure the information was accurate and locate all the photographs,” said Ramsden. “There was a lot of double and triple checking using sources in the Archives. I’m grateful to the team of people who envisioned this and brought it all together.”

The display will be installed on the main floor of the Susan A. Thompson Building, across the courtyard from City Hall at a later date.

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