Collection 10-001 - Canadian Women's Movement Archives (CWMA) collection

Impetus - The Black Woman: Proceedings of the Fourth National Congress of Black Women of Canada Demonstrators carrying "Canada condemns genocide in El Salvador" signs with Cindy Wright and Amy ... [Margaret McPhail and Virginia Adamson] in a group of women holding musical instruments and a  "I... Carolyn Egan, Shelley Glazer, Janis Tripp and Barbara Lamb posing in a medical clinic room in Nor... Morgentaler Clinic plate 1 Nonsexist Children’s Stories: send manuscripts to Women’s Press, 280 Bloor Street, Toronto Demonstration May 10th, 1975 Front view of [Gillean Chase], a member of the Gay Conference panel, attending the [Fourth Gay Co... Group of women and Adrienne Potts holding spuclums at [A Woman's Place, Toronto] International Women’s Day
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Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Canadian Women's Movement Archives (CWMA) collection

General material designation

  • Multiple media

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Reference code

CA ON0034 10-001

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Dates of creation area


  • 1905-2014, predominant 1960-2014 (Creation)
    Canadian Women's Movement Archives (CWMA)

Physical description area

Physical description

26.2 m of textual records
1445 photographs
6 postcards
705 buttons
1622 posters
105 T-shirts
29 banners

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Archival description area

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Administrative history

The origins of what later became the CWMA/ACMF were the records of the Toronto feminist newspaper The Other Woman. When the newspaper ceased publication in 1977, Pat Leslie, editor of The Other Woman, moved the newspaper’s records into her apartment and was the custodian of the first Canadian Women’s Archives (CWMA) documents. From 1977 until 1982, she preserved The Other Woman records and some additional material relating to the Canadian Women’s Movement in her apartment. In 1983, working with a group of women including Nancy Adamson, Sandy Fox, Weisia Kolansinka and Lorna Weir under the banner of the NGO the Women’s Information Center (WIC) , a registered Canadian charity, an application was made for a Canada Community Development Grant. This allowed the group to rent a room in a building on the corner of Spadina Avenue and College Street in Toronto where they moved the documents from Pat Leslie’s apartment and it was here they began to collect records and documents related to the Canadian Women’s Movement. The CWMA Collective took responsibility for the collection from 1983 forward. That collective, which changed in membership over the years, operated the Canadian Women’s Movement Archives/ACMF, until it was relocated to the University of Ottawa in 1992. Members of the collective who were active for a significant period of time included: Nancy Adamson, Jane Abray, Karen Dubinsky, Sandy Fox, Debbie A. Green, Luanne Karn, Andrea Knight, Weisia Kolasinska, Pat Leslie, Anne Molgat, Beth McAuley, Joanne Pelletier, Margaret Shepherd, Miriam Ticoll, Tori Smith, and Lorna Weir.

After the opening of the public CWMA in 1983/84, the collection was catalogued and became available to researchers. Various grants, annual yard sales, and other fundraising allowed the CWMA/ACMF collective to hire staff from time to time, to actively collect the records of women’s groups across Canada and to promote the CWMA/ACMF. In 1991 the Collective decided that it was no longer possible to maintain the CWMA/ACMF as an independent organization and sought interest from other archives and universities in the collection. The Collective felt that the collection’s credibility rested on the fact that it came out of the women’s movement and was nurtured by feminists and operated in a manner consistent with those principles. As much as possible the Collective wanted to place the collection with an institution that would respect that. Ultimately, the Collective decided to donate the CWMA/ACMF records to the University of Ottawa. Both parties agreed that the CWMA/ACMF collection would be maintained in its entirety as a separate collection with the hope that additional records from the Canadian women’s movement would be collected by the Archives and Special Collections.

In 1992 the CWMA/ACMF records were donated to the University of Ottawa, who “took over the CWMA/ACMF’s mandate” and started accepting new donations that would become a part of an ongoing collection documenting the groups and individuals who made up the Canadian Women’s Movement.

Custodial history

The Other Woman (1972-1977), Pat Leslie (1977-1982), Collective of the Canadian Women’s Movement Archives (1983-1992).
In 1992, the collective ceased operation and all the records were donated to the Archives and Special Collections of the Morisset Library, University of Ottawa.

The CWMA/ACMF made a decision to focus its collection on women’s movement organizations instead of individuals. After careful consideration and discussion about this philosophical and political decision to prioritize organisations over individuals, the Collective decided to maintain a record of individual donations but to separate the donated documents into the files of the various organizations. Though it was well aware that this was not consistent with archival practice, the Collective believed that organizing records in this manner both reflected the composition of the women’s movement and made the collection more accessible to researchers and activists.

The records in this fonds were acquired in different ways. Some were accumulated as part of The Other Woman’s activities. Others were sent to the archives when organizations ceased operations. Archives Collective members and staff actively sought donations of materials from organizations and individual women. Also, as it is the case for posters and flyers, some records were mailed to the CWMA (while in Toronto) at the time of publication. Members of the collective also donated records they themselves accumulated as part of their own feminist activities’ involvement. Finally, the University of Ottawa staff also added some records to the fonds after the 1992 donation, generally when a change of format for conservation purpose occurred.

Scope and content

This fonds contains records in various formats; including original organizational records, posters, buttons, t-shirts, flyers, publications, etc., from more than 2,000 Canadian women’s organizations, conferences and individuals. The records date from 1960 up until the mid-1990s and were collected by the Collective of the Canadian Women's Movement Archives.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Documents were donated to the Archives and Special Collections in 1992.


Following certain conditions in the Deed of Gift, the documents have been kept in the same order.

Language of material

  • English
  • French

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Restrictions on access

The majority of the fonds is open and accessible, however, some files are restricted for a predetermined period of time. Please ask ARCS staff for further information.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

Associated materials


General note

Please note that this finding aid is not complete, the following series will be added in due course: Series 3 Photographs and Series 9 Sound Recordings/AV.

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  • English

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