Margaret Phillips

Margaret Phillips (2012) Courtesy of the City of Thunder Bay.

Margaret Phillips

  • Date of birth: April 12, 1931
  • Date of death: November 4, 2015
  • Accomplishments related to: Community Development
  • Major affiliations: Northern Women's Bookstore

Margaret Phillips was a builder and promoter of the Northwestern Ontario women's writing community for close to thirty years.

In 1984, Margaret Phillips and Anna McColl co-founded the Northern Woman's Bookstore. From discussions held by the Collective of the Northern Woman Journal - one of Canada's longest running feminist newspapers - it became evident there was a demand for women's literature, and no available bookstore within 1,000 miles.

From a cubbyhole on Bay Street with 300 titles, the bookstore changed locations over the years, expanding its book selection, and in 1992 found its current home on Court Street. The site was large enough for book readings, potlucks, a book club, and the space to host a writing group.

Margaret Phillips was a tireless advocate and educator for women's issues, particularly those specific to Aboriginal women and women of Northern Ontario. Phillips stated: "From the beginning an important role of the bookstore was to take books to women's gatherings throughout the district, to ensure readers from smaller and isolated communities had access to our books."

The Northern Woman's Bookstore carries a selection of woman-centered, First Nations and Metis literature, books by local writers, as well as those dealing with violence, lesbian issues, and women's health. They host book launches, music events, book clubs, writers' circles, art installations, and workshops.

In 2008, Margaret was awarded the KOUHI award by the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop for her outstanding contribution to the promotion and encouragement of writing in Northwestern Ontario. It was noted that the Northern Woman's Bookstore has provided a safe and supporting place for women and the writing community to gather and strengthen their voices.

Similarly, in 2008, Margaret was recognized with the Bay Credit Union Social Responsibility Award, and in 2012 the Northern Women's bookstore was recognized by the Crime Prevention Council. The community safety award for Business recognized the Northern Woman's Bookstore and its team of volunteer staff for playing a fundamental role in crime prevention by empowering women for nearly 30 years.

Submitted by the Community Arts and Heritage Education Project

outside of Northern Woman's Bookstore

Northern Woman's Bookstore (ca. 2012) Courtesy of the Northern Woman's Bookstore.

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