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Women's Dispensary, Baby Clinic, 18 Seaton Street, September 16, 1914. Courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives.

Portrait of Dr. Emily Stowe, Toronto, circa 1885. Image by Herbert E. Simpson. Courtesy of Laurier University.

Portrait of Dr. Jennie Trout, Ontario, circa 1895. Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.

Women's College Hospital, Grenville St. Toronto, 1935. Courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives.

  • Women's College Hospital

    Emily Jennings Stowe

    Born in 1831, Emily Jennings Stowe discovered her passion for healing and medicine at a young age. After her husband caught tuberculosis in 1863, she decided to formally pursue medicine. However, Stowe was denied entrance into the Toronto School of Medicine in 1865.

    Determined to study medicine, Stowe left Canada to attend the New York Medical College for Women, receiving her degree in 1867. She returned to Canada that same year and opened a medical practice on Richmond Street, gaining prominence through newspaper advertisements and public lectures on women’s health. Stowe developed a city-wide reputation for her specialty in treating diseases in women and children.


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  • Women's College Hospital

    Licensing Women to Practice in Canada

    In 1870, the president of the Toronto School of Medicine granted special permission to Stowe and fellow female student Jennie Kidd Trout to attend classes. As the only two women at the School, Stowe and Trout supported each other as students.

    At that time, medical practitioners with foreign licenses were required to sit exams before they could lawfully practice medicine in Canada. This requirement was extended to Stowe and Trout, who both had obtained their medical licenses in the United States. However, the male faculty and students were so hostile to their female classmates that Stowe left the school, refusing to take the exams.

    However, Jennie Trout continued with the classes and exams, passing her courses in 1872, becoming the first licensed female medical professional in Canada.

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  • Women's College Hospital

    Medical care for women, by women

    Emily Stowe was finally granted a Canadian medical license in 1880 from the College of Surgeons and Physicians of Ontario due to her credentials and apprentice work. A few years later, her daughter, Augusta Stowe-Gullen, became the first woman to earn a medical degree in Canada in 1883.

    After getting her license, Stowe lobbied for women’s medical education with the Toronto Women’s Suffrage Club. In 1883, the group succeeded and the Mayor of Toronto, A.R. Boswell, opened the Woman’s Medical College at 289 Sumach Street. Dr. Stowe continued to work to make medical education more accessible to women.

    In 1895, the Woman’s Medical College changed its name to the Ontario Medical College for Women to better reflect its significance to women’s medical studies in the province. By 1898, the teaching facilities had expanded to offer medical services for women, by women.

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  • Women's College Hospital

    The Dispensary

    The Women’s Medical College worked closely with a medical clinic known as the Dispensary. At the clinic, female patients could be treated by women doctors regardless of their ability to pay. In 1909, a group of prominent women formed the Women’s College Hospital Committee in Toronto, with the hope of turning the Dispensary into a hospital. Opening in 1913 with only seven beds, the new hospital occupied the upper story of a small house at 18 Seaton Street.

    On February 5, 1924, the hospital was renamed the Women’s College Hospital and, in 1935, moved to its current location. In 1961, it became a teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto. Women’s College Hospital has contributed to many innovations in women’s healthcare, including being the first Ontario hospital to use mammography to detect breast cancer in 1963.

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