Ritchie, Octavia Grace

Octavia Grace Ritchie, married name England, physician, educator (b at Montréal 16 Jan 1868; d there 1 Feb 1948). Though a brilliant student, she was at first refused admission to McGill, but Principal Sir J.W. DAWSON relented when Donald A. SMITH provided $50,000 for women's education there. In 1888, as the first female valedictorian at McGill, she boldly but unsuccessfully demanded admission to the Faculty of Medicine. Having then entered Kingston Women's Medical Coll, she later transferred to and graduated from Bishop's, becoming the first woman to receive a medical degree in Québec (1891). Following study abroad she was appointed assistant gynecologist at Western Hospital, Montréal, and demonstrator in anatomy at Bishop's. She remained in practice and continued to be active in local, national and international groups promoting humanitarian causes and women's rights.