Class of 1867, New York Medical College for Women
First Canadian female to graduate with an M.D.
Hometown: Norwich, Ontario, Canada
Born: May 1, 1831
Died: April 29, 1903
After being denied entrance to medical school in Toronto, Canada, because the school did not admit women, Emily Howard Jennings Stowe, M.D. '1867, left her native Canada to attend New York Medical College for Women. After graduating in 1867, she began a practice in Toronto, the first Canadian woman to practice medicine in Canada.
After her experience fighting for acceptance in the medical community, Dr. Stowe became an ardent champion of women’s rights, including suffrage, education and medical education. In 1877, she helped found the influential Toronto Women’s Literary Guild, a group set up to fight for women’s rights and improved working conditions. The Guild is credited with making higher education at select Canadian institutions available to women.
Later in her career, she spearheaded the creation of Woman’s College Hospital in Toronto, and successfully petitioned medical schools in Canada to reverse its discrimination policy and admit women. Dr. Stowe’s own daughter, Augusta, was the was the first woman in Canada to earn a medical degree from a Canadian medical school.
Dr. Stowe was also tireless in her efforts to secure women’s right to vote, serving as President of Dominion Women’s Enfranchisement Association, an organization instrumental in women’s suffrage in Canada. Despite her lifelong efforts, Canadian women did not earn the right to vote until 1917, twelve years after Dr. Stowe’s death.
On April 12, 2018, Dr. Stowe was among six renowned medical pioneers inducted into Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (CMHF).