Memorable Manitobans: Lillian Beynon Thomas (1874-1961)
Born in York County, Ontario, the daughter of James Barnes and Rebecca Beynon, and sister to Francis Marion Beynon, an accident at the age of 5 left her lame for the rest of her life. She came to Hartney, Manitoba with her family in 1889 and was educated at the Portage Collegiate then taught at Chain Lakes School before attending Wesley College, graduating from the University of Manitoba in 1905.
She taught school at Morden briefly, in 1906, she joined the staff of the Manitoba Free Press where she served as assistant editor of the Weekly Free Press and wrote as “Lillian Laurie.” She served as Secretary of the Local Branch of the Canadian Women’s Press Club from 1907 to 1908 and was a member of the Executive of the Women’s University Club in 1910. She was an organizer of Women’s Institutes in connection with Extension Department of the University of Saskatchewan, in 1910.
Her first successful short story won a prize from Maclean’s magazine and was published by the American Magazine. She was an active feminist and advocate of women’s suffrage, especially involved in the Political Equality League. She worked in New York from 1918 to 1923 but returned to Canada with her husband, A. V. Thomas, to write. She authored several successful plays, including Among the Maples; Jim Barber’s Spite Fence (winner of the Dominion Drama Award for Manitoba); and As the Twig Is Bent. Her first novel, New Secret, was published in 1946.
She died at Winnipeg on 2 September 1961.
Her articles for the Manitoba Historical Society:
Who’s Who in Western Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of Western Canada, Volume 1, edited by C. W. Parker, Vancouver: Canadian Press Association, 1911.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 4 September 1961, page 19.
Golden Memories: A History of the Dand Community, Dand Women’s Institute, 1967.
This profile was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Profile revised: 28 July 2012
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