Courageous Women of Ottawa

IMG_20131023_180538Last week in Ottawa, I had the pleasure of organizing my first Women’s Business Network event at the Bytown Museum, a “Celebration of Courageous Women” that included looking back at the ladies who helped build Ottawa—women like Donalda Charron, Lady Aberdeen, Lady Minto, Mother McGinty and more. It was such a great event, so great that I’m going to share a little here with you to recapture the experience.

For those of you who don’t know, the Bytown Museum is located along the Rideau Canal between the Château Laurier and Parliament Hill. Not a bad location! As members and guests of the WBN arrived, they were welcomed into one of the oldest museums of Canada, founded originally in 1898 by the Women’s Canadian Historical Society of Ottawa (even back then ladies were networking and making a difference) .

Gathering on the main floor of this amazing building, the evening started off with some conversation and networking. WBN members know how to work a room, so business cards were exchanged and new connections were formed. But in between all that very good stuff was Mother McGinty. We’ll share more on the actual Mother McGinty in another post, but on the 22nd of October, her spirit was captured beautifully by Pat Marshall, who was with us that evening in full costume and deep in character as she tried to recruit girls with nice ankles to work over at her bar.

IMG_20131023_180424A highlight of the evening for me was the storytelling session.  Storyteller Ruth Stewart-Verger was with us to share the history of Donalda Charron. Ruth captivated us as she told the story of Les Allumettières, also known as the Eddy match girls. Les Allumettières were a group of young women who were led by Donalda Charron, their Maîtresse, to strike against the Eddy Match Company when their wages were threatened to be cut by half. It is such a moving story about knowing when to push back and how to stand strong. There will be more on that to come in the future.

There was more in to evening as well. Following the story of Donalda Charron, there was dessert (important to mention, as well, let’s not forget the hor d’oeuvre from Mother McGinty Copious Menu catered by Sucré, Salé), more chatting over insights the story had raised, more networking and card exchanges, and then we had a ghost-station tour. Moving station to station, we learned of past politicians, mill owners, new brides, vengeful lovers and even the Bytown Museum’s own ghost, Duncan McNab.

The evening was topped off with a little more conversation and a draw for some beautiful gifts, including a tea set donated by Sister Leadership.

It was (to use that classic phrase) a night to remember.

Even before the Celebration of Courageous Women event, the story of Donalda Charron had inspired me. However, I was even more engaged as Ruth shared Donald’as story with our group. As Ruth spoke about her life, I could see Donalda as a young girl taking care of her family, as a young women advancing in the match factory, as a supervisor who cared for her employees, and as a fighter who stuck to her convictions. We hope to share some more stories of Ottawa’s amazing women with you here on Sister Leadership, so that you can pull inspiration from their lives (and their spiritual intelligence) too.

So until next week, keep well.

(And if you missed this year’s event, don’t worry! There are talks of doing it again next year.)

Till next week,


Camille Boivin is founder of Sister Leadership, certified in EQi 2.0 and EQ360, a master practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), has been coaching high-level women and men for over six years, and is now opening her expertise to those emerging in business. Camille pulls her blog topics from her unique coaching approach that combines her training as a EQi 2.0 and EQ360 certified facilitator with the dig-deeper tools of NLP.

Get in touch here if you’d like to talk with Cam about group or one-on-one coaching, and EQ assessments. With the miracle of Skype and telephones – distance is no issue!


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