Memorable Manitobans: Elizabeth Fulton “The Bookman” Parker (1856-1944)
Born in Colchester County, Nova Scotia on 19 December 1856, daughter of George Fulton and Mary Tupper, her mother died when she was two years old. Her stepmother cultivated her literary interests. She was educated at the Truro Normal School and married at 18, living at Halifax where she joined various literary clubs and organizations.
In 1892 she came to Winnipeg with her husband Henry J. Parker (1850-1920) and their four children: Mary Jean Parker, Joan Parker (wife of H. S. McClung of Regina), Henry S. F. Parker, and James Glen Parker. She was the first secretary of the Winnipeg Travellers’ Aid Society and was instrumental in organizing the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and, in 1907, the Winnipeg branch of the Women’s Canadian Club. She was also a member of the University Women’s Club and the Poetry Society.
After enjoying a poetry reading by Edna Sutherland, she visited the office of the Manitoba Free Press to complain of the poor coverage of such readings by the newspaper. When challenged to remedy the situation herself, she wrote a column, published on 13 January 1904, that marked the start of a 36-year career as a journalist, writing under the pen name of “The Bookman.” Initially published weekly, a column “A Reader’s Notes” began appearing daily on the editorial page in 1912, continuing until July 1940.
She suffered poor health soon after arriving in Winnipeg so she took her children to live at Banff, Alberta for 18 months. This visit led to a life-long love of the mountains. She served as the founding secretary of the Alpine Club of Canada. In honour of her steadfast commitment to the organization, the club named the “Elizabeth Parker Hut” at O’Hara Meadows in 1931.
She died at her Winnipeg home on 26 October 1944, and was interred in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery. She is commemorated by Parker Avenue in Winnipeg. In March 2012, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada designated her a Person of National Historic Significance with a commemorative plaque installed in Yoho National Park in British Columbia. She was selected posthumously as a Manitoba Woman Trailblazer.
1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
“Mrs. Elizabeth Parker dies in her 88th year,” Winnipeg Free Press, 27 October 1944, page 11.
“Government of Canada recognizes significant contributions of women to Canada’s history”, Parks Canada New Release, 7 March 2012.
“Women in Canadian History,” Parks Canada.
We thank Sandra Hollender (Parks Canada Agency) for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 6 June 2022