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The Hon. Iona Campagnolo

Photograph of The Hon. Iona Campagnolo

P.C., C.M., O.B.C.

First woman Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia

Born on Galiano Island, British Columbia on October 18, 1932

The Hon. Iona Campagnolo

Political Affiliation: Liberal Party of Canada

Legislative Career: Elected to the House of Commons in 1974 for the riding of Skeena. Appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (1974-1976). She was the first Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport (1976-1979). Installed as Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia in 2001.

Honours and Awards: Member of the Order of Canada (1973); sworn to the Privy Council on September 14, 1976; appointed the Order of British Columbia (1998).

Iona Campagnolo was the daughter of Kenneth and Rosamond Hardy. Her love for the environment developed early and continued when the family moved north due to her father's job with a cannery.

"I shared a remarkable childhood living beside one of the world's great Rivers with other children who came from Aboriginal and Asian cultural roots. The Skeena River, "K'Sh'ian" or the River of Mists in northwestern British Columbia, forms the current of my personal landscape..." (Bondar, p. 36)

While the Second World War raged abroad, she was a witness to its effects in her own neighbourhood when people of Japanese descent were removed to internment camps.

After completing her secondary education, she married, raised two daughters and lived the life expected of women in the 1950s. She and her husband later separated and divorced.

Ms. Campagnolo's introduction to politics began in 1966 when she served on the school board in Prince Rupert, later becoming chairwoman from 1968 to 1972. At the same time, she worked at Skeena Broadcasting Limited as the manager of sales and host of her own daily radio show. She received the Order of Canada in 1973 for her services to various projects in her community of Prince Rupert. Another honour came shortly thereafter when she was named Broadcast Citizen of the Year for British Columbia.

Buoyed by this success, she ran for and was elected to the House of Commons as a Liberal for the riding of Skeena in the summer of 1974.

"When the chance came for me to run, I thought, 'There are women all over the country crying out for a chance to run, and here you have one on a silver plate'. And I decided to take it and run as far as I could with it." (MacGregor, p. 6)

She always fought to ensure her constituency received proper funding and recognition.

Appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, she served in that capacity for two years until becoming the first Minister of State for Fitness and Amateur Sport and sworn into the Privy Council on September 14, 1976.

After the election defeat of 1979, she re-entered the world of broadcasting and lecturing, appearing on television and radio discussing politics and current issues. Her interest in political life resurfaced in 1982 when she became the first female president of the Liberal Party, a post she held until 1986.

Since then, Ms. Campagnolo has served on many boards for causes she feels passionately about, including the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, CUSO, and Project Angola. She has participated in election monitoring and human rights events, chiefly in Africa. She also was the first Chancellor of the University of Northern British Columbia in the 1990s.

Ms. Campagnolo has received many honorary degrees and awards, including the Order of British Columbia in 1998 and has been recognized by many First Nations including receiving aboriginal names by the T'Simpsean and Haida Nations. She was also made a member of the Gitksan Nation in 1971.

The Honourable Iona Campagnolo was installed as British Columbia's first woman Lieutenant Governor in 2001 and served until 2007.


Bondar, Roberta Lynn. Canada: Landscape of Dreams. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2002.

Lieutenant Governor and Government House, British Columbia. "Lieutenant Governor."
(accessed March 26, 2009).

Lieutenant Governor and Government House, British Columbia. "Speeches."
(accessed March 26, 2009).

MacGregor, Roy. "The Iona Effect." The Canadian Magazine. July 23, 1977, p. 2-6.

Rockett, Eve. "The Importance of Being Iona." Homemaker's Magazine. September 1977, p. 6, 15-22.

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