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C.M., O.M., C.D., LL.D.
First woman Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba
First woman elected to St. James-Assiniboia (now Winnipeg) City Council
First woman elected Deputy Mayor of Winnipeg
Born in Melville, Saskatchewan on June 10, 1929
The Hon. Pearl McGonigal
Honours and Awards: Member of the Order of Canada (1994); Order of Manitoba (2000); Winnipeg Press Club President's Award (2003); Royal Military Institute of Manitoba Patriot Award (2003)
Pearl McGonigal has said in interviews that by the time she left home, she had already developed her lifelong passions for politics and good food. (Chatelaine, p. 66). After working in merchandising and banking, she settled with her family in Winnipeg, where these two passions became evident in her activities. Her involvement in her community eventually led her to run for municipal office.
She was first elected to St. James-Assiniboia (now Winnipeg) city council in 1969, and was re-elected or acclaimed continuously until 1980. She was elected Winnipeg Deputy Mayor and Chairman, Executive policy committee in 1979.
At the same time, an audience was familiar with her columns in local newspapers, notably a weekly cooking column, "Frankly Feminine" and her reputation as a gourmet cook. So when she was named Lieutenant Governor in 1981 she was already a well-known public figure.
She was much more than this, however, having garnered a respected record of service to a wide variety of charitable causes. She served as a chair or director of a range of organizations, notably Grace General Hospital, theatre, and numerous business and economic development concerns, such as the Red River Exhibition. At the same time, she was a member of many local church, service and women's organizations. After her term as Lieutenant Governor ended in 1986, she continued active public service with some long-time associations such as Grace General Hospital, and with new roles such as Manitoba chair of the Council for Canadian Unity, honorary Colonel, and chairman of the Canadian Forces Liaison Council in Manitoba. She served on numerous non-profit bodies such as United Way, and corporate boards, such as Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.
One of her major aims as Lieutenant Governor was "to strengthen the role of her office as a unifying force for all Manitobans and to ensure that Government House is accessible to groups of all ages and walks of life." She said: "Canada was founded on tolerance, and I think a great power of this office is to bring people together and let them communicate." (Chatelaine, p. 160).
She has been consistent in supporting women in politics. As early as 1969, she wanted more women in the political arena, and in 2002 said: "I wish there was a magic formula or recipe to make more women candidates available so there is a choice". (Winnipeg Free Press, p. A1). On the existence of a "glass ceiling," she said: "I think there are still some areas where it's a problem. But I think all of us who are women and are in some sort of position, whether it's appointed, elected or invited, would like to make a difference." (Financial Post, p. C1).
For over 20 years Pearl McGonigal has been the recipient of many awards from a wide variety of organizations, which recognize her talent and her contributions.
Carlyle-Gordge, Peter. "The Crowning Achievement of Pearl McGonigal." Chatelaine. Volume 55, (September 1982), p. 38, 166+.
Hanson, Kim. "Glass Ceiling in Canada Cracked, but Still Here: Women Executives Disagree with Fiorina's Comment." Financial Post. (July 21, 1999), p. C1.
Hendry, Leah. "Municipal Mystery: Why Don't More Women Run?" Winnipeg Free Press. (August 20, 2002), p. A1.
Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba. "Past Lieutenant Governors."
(accessed September 14, 2005).
McGonigal, Pearl. Bringing It All Together: A Collection of Recipes. Winnipeg: Canada Safeway, 1990.
McGonigal, Pearl. Frankly Feminine Cookbook. Winnipeg: Reliance Press Ltd., 1975.