Launch of The Lighkeeper's Daughters

Launch of The Lighkeeper's Daughters
by Jean Pendziwol

Elvis the Mountie Dog Steals the Show at the Book Signing

Elvis the Mountie Dog Steals the Show at the Book Signing
Elvis, Joan M. Baril, customer poet Rob Lem

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Obituary for Margaret Philips of Northern Women's Bookstore

Celebration of Life for Margaret Phillips to be held Saturday January 16, 2016. More information later.




Obituary: MARGARET ALBERTA PHILLIPS (1931-2015)

Respected feminist and social justice advocate, Margaret Phillips, passed away on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. 
Margaret was born on April 12, 1931 to Albert and Daisy Phillips in Ottawa.  When her parents died young, she was supported by loving family members, her aunt Janet Riley and cousins Margaret and Ruth Fuller, all of whom have predeceased her.

Margaret’s first career choice was in the field of  Recreation. She became the first woman in Canada to be appointed an Arena Manager (Iroquois Falls, (1957-60) and whilst Recreation Director in Kenora (1960-67), she was elected the first woman President of the Society of Directors of Municipal Recreation of Ontario. In 1965, the Anishnawbe Grand Council Treaty #3 formally acknowledged Margaret’s efforts, placing her name on their Honour Roll for her participation in the historic Anti-racism March to Kenora City Hall in that year.

From 1971-81 Margaret served as the Executive Director of the Lakehead Social Planning Council, advocating for a wide range of community services including HAGI Transit, the Castlegreen Housing Co-op, and regional daycare programmes.
 In 1973 she was part of the Collective that founded the Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre. From 1982-92 she was a member of the Northern Woman’s Journal Collective, the 2nd longest-running feminist newspaper in Canada.

In 1984 Margaret and Anna McColl co-founded the Northern Woman’s Bookstore, the only remaining woman’s bookstore in Canada.  In 2008 she was honoured with the Kouhi Award by the Northwestern Ontario Writers’ Workshop for her outstanding contribution to  writing in Northwestern Ontario. 

Between 1984 and 1997 Margaret was involved in the work of Inter Pares, a Canadian NGO which works with partner organizations around the world on social justice issues. She helped to shape its deep commitment to the principles of equality and nurturing of women’s leadership. Margaret travelled internationally in support of its goals. Margaret also served as a board member of the Canadian Council on Social Development and the Ontario Welfare Council. In recognition of her contributions to social justice and to the literary community of Northwestern Ontario Margaret was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Lakehead University at its Convocation, earlier this year.

Margaret could not have lived an independent life in her final years without the support of Elizabeth Hutchison, NP and Karen Greenfield, RN at Nor West Community Health Centres (Ogden site) and Louise and Janet from Bayshore. They were trusted and loving caregivers.  Terry Fossum, Maryanne Lanktree and Johnny Dampier supported her throughout the years. Dr. T. Czolpinski was more than her cardiologist, he became her advocate and trusted advisor.

Margaret is survived by her great-niece, Patricia Olmstad, resident of Luskville, Quebec.

The members of the Bookstore Collective, the staff, volunteers, writing and reading group members and women past and present grieve the loss of Margaret Phillips, a guiding spirit. Her legacy is a feminist flame that can never be extinguished.

In accordance with Margaret’s wishes a celebration of her life will take place on January 16, 2016. A notice will be published when arrangements have been finalized.


When asked by the Northern Ontario Women’s Centre to give a piece of advice to young feminists, Margaret recommended “develop your analysis, learn your history and always keep reading”. At the Convocation ceremony for her doctorate she reaffirmed her view by urging all present to "Read a book - even better, read a real book".

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