The Montreal Gazette Review - Inspiring Women

Stories and photos culled from Herstory calendars
Reviewed by: Donna Nebenzahl

As a compilation, Inspiring Women: A Celebration of Herstory fulfills its mandate. Here are stories and photographs featuring hundreds of Canadian women, past and present, culled from Herstory calendars since 1974. 

The women of the Saskatoon Women's Calendar Collective, who for more than three decades have been telling women's stories in the form of an annual daybook, are to be congratulated for their loyalty to this cause.

Over the years, about 50 women have been involved with the Herstory calendar; in that time, 29 editions have gone to press.

Their commitment to "telling the story of women in Canada from a non-elite, non-academic point of view" is both the weakness and strength of this compilation.

Its matter-of-fact style is long on the substance of the lives of the women profiled but short on an evocative rendering of their eras or feelings.

But viewed through a longer lens, the book is succinct history of the women of Canada. As the editors note in their introduction, going through past editions of Herstory, they found that the calendars "had been chronicling women's increasing participation in ever more complex levels of society."

On the other hand, they write, "We were continually sturck with how old some of the 'new' topics are. The phrase 'equal pay for work of equal value' figures in a National Council of Women platform in 1920."

It's great to have that kind of persepctive on women's "progress" - and to come upon a young Margaret Atwood, profiled and photographed in 1977, and the late Carol Shields, from the calendar of 1982.

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