Canadian Federation of University Women

Elizabeth Wilfert

Clubs come and go but to celebrate a 110th anniversary, as CFUW-Ottawa is this year, you have to have a winning combination. CFUW-Ottawa’s secret? It is a dynamic organization of women that enhances personal growth and provides challenges and opportunities to make positive change in the world.

The group was created in 1910 when a group of women met in Ottawa to form what was then known as the University Women’s Club. The group has since been renamed CFUW-Ottawa and a university degree is no longer required to become a member. CFUW-Ottawa is one of 122 clubs across Canada and is affiliated with a global community in 80 countries.

CFUW-Ottawa has had, and continues to have, some fascinating members, including:

• Dr. Charlotte Whitton, a champion for women’s equality in politics and the workplace. When she was elected mayor of Ottawa in 1951, she became the first woman mayor of a major Canadian city.

• Dr. Alice E. Wilson, Canada’s first female geologist and a recognized authority on the fossils and rock of the Ottawa-St. Lawrence Valley. She was the first woman admitted to the Royal Society of Canada and the first woman to receive an honorary degree from Carleton University.

• Shirley Greenberg, a trail-blazer in the Canadian women’s movement, helped found the Ottawa Women’s Centre, from which subsequently developed the Rape Crisis Centre, the Women’s Career Counselling Centre and Interval House, a refuge for battered women. She also created the first all-female law practice in Ottawa.

CFUW-Ottawa members have always had a social conscience. During both World Wars they raised money to provide milk for children in war-torn Belgium and for soldiers’ convalescent homes. They sent gifts of tobacco and donated pajamas, hospital shirts and socks to soldiers. Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, who was given refuge in Canada during World War II, joined the club as an honorary member.

The support for the education of women here in Canada is crucial to CFUW-Ottawa members. In 2019-2020, a Trust Fund awarded a record of 31 scholarships totaling $78,000.

CFUW-Ottawa promotes Canada to foreign diplomatic guests in a spirit of fun and friendship.

CFUW-Ottawa is also about the power of women coming together for personal development. There are groups for those who appreciate art, music, and theatre; for women who like to hike, snowshoe or ski; and for those with an interest in the environment, history or literature.

At the cost of only $120 or $50 a year for students, membership in CFUW-Ottawa offers something for all women.

Please visit the CFUW-Ottawa website: for more details