Canadian History of Women in Policing

Canadian History of Women in Policing

Canada has a rich history with our female officers serving since the early 1800’s. Here are just some of the highlights of policewomen history in Calgary and Canada as a whole:

  • Canada’s first female police officer is considered by many to be Rose Fortune, a Black Loyalist that was born into slavery. Fortune was a successful entrepreneur and imposed curfews in Annapolis, Nova Scotia in the early 1800’s.
  • The first women to be hired as police officers in Canada were Lunacy Harris, Minnie Miller, and Annie Jackson in 1912. Harris and Miller would patrol dance halls, beer parlours and parks, while Jackson’s duties involved women who worked in prostitution.
  • Vera Bell and Mrs. Mowat became Calgary’s first policewomen in 1943 on a temporary basis.
  • In 1946, Vera Russell, Margaret Sadler, and Olive Stanton became the first full-time female officers in Calgary.
  • In 1974 in Toronto, female officers are assigned to do patrols with male officers.
  • The title “policewoman” is no longer used for female police officers.
  • On September 16, 1974, thirty-two women are sworn in with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as their first female officers. All thirty-two were sworn in simultaneously across Canada as a gesture to ensure the pressure of being the first female RCMP officer was not transferred to one woman but for the group to uphold as a whole.
  • In 1994, Lenna Bradburn becomes the police chief of the service in Guelph, Ontario, becoming Canada’s first female chief of police.
  • Christine Silverberg becomes Calgary’s first female Chief of Police in 1995.
  • 2006 sees Beverly Busson become the first female commissioner of the RCMP on an interim basis.
  • In 2016, female officers make up 21% of all police officers in Canada.
  • Now in 2018, we see Brenda Lucki as the first female RCMP commissioner on a permanent basis.

For more history on the Calgary Police Service visit or the Calgary Police Service’s Youthlink Interpretive Centre




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