CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 5 . . . .October 27, 2006
The front cover of Renegade Women of Canada depicts a “naughty nineties” dance hall girl tossing back a very full glass of red wine. The colourized tin-type photo is of “Klondike Kate,” Kitty Rockwell, a one-time convent school student and Kansas City socialite whose spirit of adventure drew her to Dawson City, Yukon, at the height of the Gold Rush. Once there, she listened to prospectors’ sad stories: “failed grubstakes, families back home that they missed terribly. Kitty listened, danced and got them drunk.” Over the course of eight decades, she made and lost several fortunes, demonstrated a real talent for choosing men who were bound to disappoint, and scandalized many. But, compared to some of the other women featured in this collection, Kitty is a saint.
In the introduction, author Michaelides states that this is a collection of “real-life sagas and dramas about women who didn’t like things the way they were. So they changed them – sometimes intentionally in pursuit of their vision, other times by accident in pursuit of the truth and very often by design for the sake of equality.” For women such as Dr. Emily Stowe, hockey goal-keeper Manon Rhéaume, or Sen. Anne Clare Cools, this statement encapsulates their reason for inclusion in this book. However, some of the other choices who have been profiled in this collection of 18 mini-biographies – dominatrix Penny Hoar (yes, that’s her real name), con artist Cassie Chadwick, and “naked starlet and movie mogul” (41) Nell Shipman – left me wondering just what was the point of telling their stories (other than the fact of their being defiantly outrageous women).
Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.