WHITTON and RITCH -Surname Studies and people from the Island of GRAEMSAY, Orkney

Charlotte Elizabeth Hazeltyne Whitton

Charlotte Elizabeth Hazeltyne Whitton

Female 1896 - 1975  (78 years)

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  • Name Charlotte Elizabeth Hazeltyne Whitton 
    Born 8 Mar 1896  Renfrew, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Died 25 Jan 1975  Renfrew, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I3264  Whitton
    Last Modified 16 Oct 2019 

    Father John Edward Whitton,   b. 22 Nov 1871, Belleville, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 23 Mar 1936, Renfrew Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 64 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother Elizabeth Langin,   b. 28 Jun 1869, Rochester, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Buried Renfrew Cem. Renfrew Co. Horton Twp. Ont Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Relationship natural 
    Married 11 Jun 1894  Almonte, Lanark, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F1982  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 

      Charlotte Whitton

      The Human Dynamo 1896 - 1975
      By John Lindsay, Grade 8, Central Public School

      A visit by Charlotte Whitton was always an event for Renfrew. Many will remember her as a youngster playing hockey in the old arena; others as a stubborn, fiery suffragette fighting for women's rights. Most people of Renfrew have some private memory of "Lottie" Whitton, whether personal or a story handed down.

      Her visit to the 100th Anniversary of the Renfrew Fair brought back many memories and she and Johnnie Moran, who was Mayor at the time, tangled over a chain of office. She was especially pleased with a gift of fresh fruit and vegetables presented to her by members of Women's Institutes. She proudly displayed her gift to guests at a reception in her honour given by Mr. Tom Barnet, President of the Renfrew Agricultural Society, in his gracious home on Raglan Street, South.

      Charlotte Elizabeth Hazeltyne Whitton was born in Renfrew on March 8, 1896. Her mother was an Irish Roman Catholic and her father, an English Protestant Orangeman. Charlotte was brought up in the Anglican Church. In her own words her line included 'some of the blackest Irishmen" who ever worked the Ottawa River log drives.

      Not many know that as a little girl, only five feet tall, in Renfrew long ago, she was enough of a favourite among hockey players of the great hockey team called the Renfrew Millionaires, that on her thirteenth birthday in March, 1910, they took her to a hockey game and seated her among them at the rail.

      A graduate of Renfrew Collegiate Institute, Miss Whitton went on to become one of the best students to enter Queen's University in Kingston. She entered the famed University with six scholarships and left with a Master's Degree and medals in English, History and Teaching.

      She was also a top-notch athlete at Queen's. She set records for the field hockey team. Some of them have not been broken.

      The first time she took part in a political campaign was the Federal Election in 1917. Her constituency of Renfrew South looked like a shoo-in for Larry Martin, war hero and Renfrew resident. He came home from the war in Europe to run as an independent, committed to support Prime Minister Borden's Union Government. He was a Lieutenant-Colonel and had been awarded a DSO for bravery in action. In the win-the-war temper of the time that was very big. But there had been some interference by people here in Renfrew to get him the nomination and Charlotte didn't like establishments then any more than later.

      The Laurier Liberals picked Issac Pedlow, Renfrew merchant as their candidate. Lottie Whitton had worked in his Main street store (where Walker Stores is today) and she liked him. She came home from Queen's University to help. Mr. Pedlow's campaign was the underdog situation that she was to experience often later. In the country as a whole Borden crushed the Liberals. Only 20 Liberals were elected in the country, outside of Quebec. But Issac Pedlow was one of them. The jubilant 20 year old girl beside him on victory night, was Charlotte Whitton, nearly 60 years ago.

      In 9122 she became a private secretary to Tom Low, M.P., then Trade Minister in the Liberal government. In 1926 when Tom Low was defeated, she joined the Council on Child Welfare. She investigated the problems of the poor across Canada, with this organization until 1941. When the Canadian Welfare Council was later organized, Miss Whitton became it's first Director.

      In 1934 Lottie Whitton was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 1935 she was awarded the Jubilee Medal; in 1939 and 1953 the Coronation Medal; Centennial Medal in 1967 and Service Medal, Order of Canada 1967. Her abilities were recognized in all parts of Canada and the United States as well.

      Twice she was chosen by writers of the Canadian Press as Canadian Woman of the year. Seven times she represented Canada as Geneva, Switzerland as delegate to the Social Questions of the League of Nations. In 1953 she went to England to represent Ottawa at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth. In 1971 when she was given the honourary degree of Doctor of Laws by Queen's University, she was cited as the University's most distinguished graduate.

      In 1950 she was elected the first woman Controller of the City of Ottawa. In typical fashion, she responded to an Ottawa Journal editorial challenging her to run for a seat after she had lectured an Ottawa women's club about the lack of women in public life. She acted immediately. She rented the ballroom of the Chateau Laurier and invited every club woman in the city to come. They jammed the place.

      Within a short time she had them whipped up into a fighting mood and the newly formed Charlotte Whitton Campaign Committee went to work with a needle and a wisp of blue thread as a symbol worn on the collar. When all the bluster subsided on election day, Miss Whitton had received more votes than any other Controller. She had left her nearest opponent 7,000 votes behind.

      It was the beginning. For 22 years she was completely involved in City of Ottawa politics, either a s Mayor, or Alderman in later years. She was appointed Mayor in 1951 on the death of Mayor Grenville Goodwin for the 14 months remaining in his term. But in 1952 she won handily in her own right, this time using a darning needle as a symbol because 'the job was bigger'.

      Her eyes were set on a House of Commons seat. Lottie was urged several times in the 1950's to consider seeking the Conservative nomination in Renfrew south, but when finally she decided to run, she chose Ottawa West. In 1958 up against the incumbent Liberal, George McIlraith in a Liberal stronghold, she lost by 1,426 votes.

      Yet, never throughout her distinguished career did she forget Renfrew and the Ottawa Valley. She wrote many articles for the Mercury and other periodicals. She wrote the book "A Hundred Years a-Fellin" which is the story of lumbering in the Ottawa Valley as carried out by the Gilles Brothers of Braeside. She often spoke to meetings in Renfrew.

      Her death in 1975 was deeply mourned here. She willed many of her possessions to the MacDougall Mill Museum, in Renfrew and they now form an extensive display in her honour.

      In this display is a faded little document in a simple frame which hung for a long time on the wall of Charlotte Whitton's private office. It is an old certificate from Renfrew Public School to certify that Charlotte Whitton had been awarded Honour Promotion from Grade 1 to Grade 2.

      Lottie Whitton was buried in Renfrew in the spring of 1975 with many old friends and colleagues in attendance. Afterwards, the University Women's Club of Renfrew offered an opportunity for friends to visit at the home of Miss Whitton's good friend, Miss Lillian Handford.

      "There'll never be another Charlotte". " She was dynamic, and aggressive, and ready to take on anyone."

      Whitton, Charlotte (1896-1975). A graduate of Queen's, Whitton went on to become one of the most colourful figures of her time as an influential social activist and Canada's first woman mayor. She was born in Renfrew and attended Queen's during the First World War. She was one of the university's top students, arriving with scholarships in six subjects and graduating in 1917 with Queen's medals in both history and English. She also led an active extra-curricular career at the university; she was the first woman editor of the Queen's Journal and played on the women's field hockey, ice hockey, and basketball teams. A fiery and energetic woman, she became a crusader for children's rights after her graduation and, during the Depression, was a key advisor on federal unemployment relief policy. Elected controller of Ottawa's municipal council in 1950, she ran for the Ottawa mayoralty the following year and became Canada's first woman mayor. She was re-elected in 1952, 1954, 1960, and 1962. She was a flamboyant mayor and her tenure was notable for her stormy battles with hostile male colleagues – including, in one celebrated case, a battle that ended in Whitton kicking and punching a municipal controller. She was defeated in 1964, but served as an alderman until 1972. Whitton always retained a strong affection for Queen's. She was an active member of the alumnae association, a driving force behind the building of ban righ hall, and a member of the board of trustees from 1928 to 1940. She received an honorary degree from the university in 1941. Her sister, kathleen ryan, another distinguished alumna, is one of Queen's most generous benefactors.

      Dr. Charlotte Whitton, OBE, OC (born March 8, 1896 in Renfrew, Ontario; died January 25, 1975) was a noted Canadian feminist and mayor of Ottawa. She was the first female mayor of a major city in Canada, serving from 1951 to 1956 and again from 1960 to 1964. (Whitton is sometimes mistakenly credited as the first woman ever to serve as a mayor in Canada, but this distinction is in fact held by Barbara Hanley, who became mayor of the small town of Webbwood in 1936.)

      Whitton attended Queen's University where she was the star of the women's hockey team and was known as the fastest skater in the league. From Queen's she became the founding director of the Canadian Council on Child Welfare from 1920-1941 (which became the Canadian Welfare Council, now the Canadian Council on Social Development) and helped bring about a wide array of new legislation to help children.

      Despite her strong views on women's equality Whitton was a strong social conservative and did not support making divorce easier.

      Whitton was Ottawa's city controller in 1951. Upon the unexpected death of mayor Grenville Goodwin that August, Whitton was immediately appointed acting Mayor and on 30 September 1951 was confirmed by city council to remain Mayor until the end of the normal three-year term.

      Whitton was a staunch defender of Canada's traditions, and condemned Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson's proposal in 1964 for new national flag to replace the traditional Canadian Red Ensign. Whitton dismissed Pearson's design as a ‘white badge of surrender, waving three dying maple leaves’ which might as well be ‘three white feathers on a red background,’ a symbol of cowardice. ‘It is a poor observance of our first century as a nation if we run up a flag of surrender with three dying maple leaves on it,’ she said. (Ottawa Citizen, 21 May 1964; Globe and Mail, May 22, 1964.) For Whitton, the Red Ensign, with its Union Jack and coat of arms containing symbols of England, Scotland, Ireland and France (or a similar flag with traditional symbols on it) would be a stronger embodiment of the Canadian achievement in peace and war.

      She became well known for her assertiveness and for her vicious wit with which many male colleagues, and once the Lord Mayor of London were attacked. She is famous for the quotation: "Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult."

      In 1967 she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.