A female role model — she’s right in our own backyard


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A week ago in this corner, we promoted several local individuals for consideration when re-naming Edward Street Public School.

Including Edra Sanders Ferguson, who was the first woman to practise law in St. Thomas, the first woman in the city’s history elected alderman and the first woman to run for mayor.

Now, add to those credentials the Order of Canada, one of our country’s highest civilian honours, which was awarded to Sanders Ferguson on Thursday.

Responding to this honour, she writes, “I was very surprised to receive this prestigious honour as I did not know I had been nominated. I have now learned that it was a young woman who nominated me. I would guess that most nominations are made by the rich and powerful. I am so pleased that a young woman without power or influence would take such an initiative — and be successful.”

Sanders Ferguson continues, “Her initiative reminds me that as I grew up in a world dominated by men I too kept making decisions that I could do things society then thought impossible or inappropriate for a woman.

“Women in the 20’s weren’t supposed to go to law school. But I did and found that men wouldn’t hire me. Fortunately for me, my father was a lawyer and I joined his firm.

“Women were not supposed to run for political office. But I did and had some success.

“Women were not supposed to make public speeches but I am afraid I learned how to do that very early. The ones I remember most were those I made on the platform with the then Prime Minister, R. B. Bennett.

She concludes, “I don’t know what I did that made me deserving for this national honour but I am proud that I am apparently the oldest person in Canada to ever receive this honour. These days the elderly are often going through the same struggle which women did during this past century and I am happy I may have helped my current age group break down another barrier.”

Note to Elgin school trustee Tracy Grant, chairman of the naming committee: You and I talked this week about the importance of female role models and that was a key consideration in the naming process.

Tracy, here’s a wonderful inspiration for young women right here in our own backyard, for heaven’s sake.

It’s not too late for you, the rest of the committee and the London school board to reconsider.

ABOUT FACE

At Tuesday’s Elgin county council meeting, Tom Marks, the county’s rep on the St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital board of directors, took umbrage with anyone who has an issue with the $40,000 spent on consulting fees for a new corporate logo.

“It’s a blip in an $80 million budget,” Marks challenged.

That still doesn’t justify the expense and it’s not the final tally on this frivolous project.

Is this the same Tom Marks who vowed to take on the Canadian navy for sticking their nose into the affairs of Central Elgin council?

The same Tom Marks who rode shotgun on Central Elgin’s municipal budgets and hounded Elgin St. Thomas Public Health to no end on their attempt to fund a new home? In the process storming out of several board meetings.

Now that Marks is comfortable on the hospital board, do we now call him Toe-The-Line Tommy?

POINT TO PONDER

What do a private box in the John Labatt Centre, a corporate credit card and St. Thomas Transit contract renewal negotiations share in common?

The pieces of the puzzle may fall in to place when city council reconvenes mid-month.

A SUCCESS STORY STEAMS IN TO ST. THOMAS 

With all the efforts under way to attract visitors to the city, how ironic that a little blue tank engine named Thomas will again cast his magic spell over St. Thomas this month.

In excess of 20,000 youngsters of all ages will travel to St. Thomas to enjoy the simple pleasure of meeting and riding behind the impish railway icon known around the world.

A long toot on the whistle to the organizers and volunteers who have made these visits possible.

For two weekends their efforts will return St. Thomas to its rightful position as the Railway Capital of Canada.

And, many of the dollars left behind will financially assist the Elgin County Railway Museum.

It’s a reminder to all of us that the greatest success often comes with the simplest of endeavours.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“As I’ve watched this project unfold, I’ve seen a Conservative government, a Liberal government, an NDP government, a Conservative government, back to a Liberal government. I have countless pieces of correspondence with numerous attorney generals and premiers in my files on this.”

MPP Steve Peters recounts the energy expended over several decades to ensure Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony for a new consolidated court facility in St. Thomas would indeed become a reality.

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.

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