Eunice Wishart

Painting of Eunice Wishart

Eunice Marian Wishart (née Knight)

  • Date of Birth: October 8, 1898 (Utica, New York)
  • Date of Death: November 14, 1982 (Toronto)
  • Accomplishments related to: Politics
  • Major affiliations: Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association, Canadian Children’s Health League, Thunder Bay Film Council, West Algoma Local Council of Women, Progressive Conservative Party, Municipal Government

In 1948, Eunice Wishart made local history when she became Port Arthur’s first female alderman and the city’s first woman to be granted the position of acting mayor. She continued to make history in 1956 as Port Arthur’s first female mayor.

Eunice Marian Knight was born in Utica, New York in 1898, and moved to Port Arthur (around 1904) as a young girl to live with her aunt and uncle after the death of her parents. In 1922 she married John Wishart, and in 1940 she started to make her way into politics by running for alderman (placing thirteenth out of fifteen; in 1948, she placed fourth out of twenty). Upon her election as alderman in 1948, Wishart declared, “I felt for a long time there was a place on the council for a woman’s outlook.”[i] She was known for her ability to always be in the centre of a controversy, and she was determined to make a place for women in politics.

During her time as mayor, Wishart implemented many positive changes in the city, such as developing a civic reserve fund, implementing cheaper parking, acquiring a squatters’ area beside Lake Superior, constructing a sewage disposal plant, beginning the reassessment of property values, and securing cheap natural gasoline for the city.[ii] She was in office for three terms before retiring from politics “to give the men a chance.”[iii]

Outside of politics, Wishart was also deeply involved in her community as a member of multiple organizations. She was the director of many committees, including Port Arthur Cancer Unit, the YMCA, the John Howard Society, and Canadian Children’s Health League. During the Second World War, she served as a chairperson on the women’s committee of the Wartime Prices and Trade Board, and a member of the Dependents Allowance Board. As an advocator of women, Wishart was the Vice-President of the National Council of Women, the Convener of Economics for the Provincial Council of Women for Ontario, a member of the Fort William – Port Arthur Soroptimists, and director of the Canadian Tourist Association and Women’s Institute. Wishart believed “that as women receive added privileges, they assume added responsibility,”[iv] and she portrayed that belief in her own life through her participation and dedication in various organizations.

[i] "Happy and Humble, Says Mrs. Wishart; Expects Respect,” Port Arthur Daily News (1948). Accession 8720-01, Series 494. Courtesy of the City of Thunder Bay Archives.

[ii] "Mayor Eunice Marian Wishart." Port Arthur Mayors. Accessed July 16, 2019.

[iii] Clare, John, and Peter Newman. "Backstage With Women in Politics." Maclean's, January 3, 1959, 3.

[iv] "Mrs. Wishart to Run For Alderman,” Port Arthur Daily New (1947). Accession 8720-01, Series 494. Courtesy of the City of Thunder Bay Archives.


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