Fairclough, Ellen Louks

Ellen Louks Fairclough, politician (b at Hamilton, Ont 28 Jan 1905; d at Hamilton, Ont 13 Nov 2004). A chartered accountant by profession, she became secretary of state and Canada's first woman federal cabinet minister in the 1957 DIEFENBAKER government. Owner of a Hamilton accounting firm, she was a member of city council 1946-49. She won a federal seat in a May 1950 by-election. The quietly persuasive Tory labour critic soon introduced a bill requiring equal pay for equal work and advocated equal opportunity and the creation of a Dept of Labour Women's Bureau. She moved to the Dept of Citizenship and Immigration in 1958 and became postmaster general in 1962. She was defeated in the 1963 election.

After leaving politics, she served first as a senior executive in a trust company, then as chairman of Hamilton Hydro and finally as treasurer of the Zonta International women's group. In 1985 she was invested Dame of Grace, Order of St John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaler and in 1989 was given the Persons Award. In 1992 Fairclough was bestowed with the title Right Honourable by the Queen in a ceremony celebrating Canada's 125th birthday. She was made Companion of the Order of Canada (1995) and published her memoirs, Saturday's Child in the same year.