Canadians should be familiar with the women who were pioneers in their professions and those who fought to secure equal civil and democratic rights with men. One of them was from Argenteuil and was among eight notable women who were recently designated as significant women in Québec history by Culture and Communications Minister Nathalie Roy.
Maude Abbott was born on March 18, 1868 in St. Andrews East (now part of St-André d’Argenteuil) as Elizabeth Seymour Babin. She was a cousin of Sir John Abbott, Canada’s third prime minister, and from St. Andrews East. Due to family circumstances, she and her sister Frances were raised by their maternal grandmother and their last name was changed to Abbott.
In 1890 she graduated from McGill University as the valedictorian of the third class of female students to attend McGill. In 1890, she graduated from the Bishop’s College medical school that existed in Montreal at the time.
Dr. Abbott focused on pathology, especially congenital heart disease. She worked under renowned Canadian physician Dr. Willam Osler and contributed to the chapter on heart disease in his 1908 textbook Modern Medicine.
In 1924, with five other female physicians, Abbott founded the Canadian Federation of Female Physicians.
Abbott was not allowed to attend medical school at McGill because she was a woman. However, the university did award her with an honourary law doctorate in 1936.
Her career also included work as a medical historian. She served as the permanent international secretary of the International Association of Medical Museums from 1907 to 1938 and author many papers on pathology, and the history of medicine and nursing. Abbott died in 1940 and is buried in St. Andrews.
To honour Maude Abbott, the Commission de typonomie du Québec—the provincial agency responsible for geographic place names, has designated an island in Riviere du Nord where it enters St-Andre d’Argenteuil as Île Maude-Abbott.
Argenteuil Member of the National Assembly Agnès Grondin said the recognition of Abbott and the seven other women confirms their contribution to society and places them in collective memory to inspire new generations of women who want to defend rights and equality.
The other women designated as significant people in Quebec history are Marie Lacoste-Gérin-Lajoie, Idola Saint-Jean, Thérèse Casgrain, Marie-Aveline Bengle, Irma LeVasseur, Laure Gaudreault, and Elizabeth Carmichael-Monk.
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