Memorable Manitobans: Irene Elizabeth Church Grant (1914-2009)
Educator, community activist.
Born on her family farm near Niverville on 10 February 1914, she was the first Lone Girl Guide in Manitoba. At the age of 13, she began commuting to Winnipeg by train to attend Kelvin High School, graduating from grade 12 two years early. After graduating from Normal School she taught school in the Emerson area until 1939, while attending summer session at the University of Manitoba each year. In 1939 she moved to Winnipeg where her teaching career continued until 1942 when she joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRENS). She was posted during the Second World War in Boston, New York, Washington, Ottawa, Halifax, Digby, Montreal, and Toronto.
Resuming her teaching career at Winnipeg in 1945, she married Ulderic Grant later that year. The policy at that time was for women to relinquish their teaching jobs upon marriage but she successfully lobbied against its application to her. She subsequently stepped down as her children were born, returning to teaching to 1952. She retired as librarian at R. B. Russell School in 1976.
She was active in such organizations as the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, Winnipeg Teachers Association, the Business and Professional Women’s Clubs of Canada (Life Membership), the Associated Country Women of the World (Life Membership), Dugald Costume Museum, Manitoba Craft Guild, Women’s Canadian Club, Manitoba Council on Aging, Planned Parenthood Manitoba, Women’s Health Clinic, YW-YMCA, Manitoba Historical Society, Antique Motorcycle of America, Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women, and the International Peace Garden (Life Membership). From 1972 to 1982 she was a citizen advisor to Legal Aid Manitoba (Eastern Region). She served on the Provincial Family Law Reform Committee, and the Land Use Committee of the Manitoba Environment Council. She helped to found the Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre and she chaired the Provincial Council of Women for three years.
She was recognized with the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case (1990) and the Order of Manitoba (2005).
She died at Winnipeg on 12 November 2009.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 18 November 2009, page C9.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 27 June 2015
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