By Sheri Selway

October is Women’s History Month, time to celebrate and honour the achievements of Women and Girls.  October 11 is International Day of the Girl and October 18 is Person’s Day.  The theme for Women’s History Month is #MakeanImpact. For more information about Women’s History Month there is a link at the bottom of the article from the Status of Women Canada website. The website features profiles and stories of women who have made an impact in a variety of categories and inspire others!

There are many women in our lives that deserve to be honoured, many who make an impact; women who get involved in the community, give of their time to do breakfast programs, plant gardens, volunteer in community groups, babysit, make food, tutor, sit on Boards, Parent Councils, church groups etc. You all set an example by sharing of yourselves to make a difference in the world. You all deserve to be honoured! Thank you!  Below I have listed only a few women who have made an impact in our North End community.

Susan Bennetto was the first woman principal in Hamilton!  Susan Bennetto became a teacher when she was 17 and taught for 50 years.   She taught at several schools in Hamilton but taught at Picton Street School for 30 years. During her career, 5 of her former students became mayors!   A year after her death in 1919, Picton Street School was named for Susan Bennetto (1920).  Unfortunately, it burned down in 1965 and a new school was built where Compass Health Centre is now, also named Bennetto. (The old auditorium is still attached to Bennetto Rec Centre). A portrait of Miss Bennetto was hung in the school.  When that school closed, Centennial School was renamed Bennetto School in her honour.  The 100th year anniversary of (Susan) Bennetto School is coming up next year!

Gil Simmons lived by the bay on Bay Street.  In 1971 she formed Save Our Bay (SOB) Committee which was the forerunner to the Bay Area Restoration Council (BARC) and pressured the City to stop the dumping of toxic landfill into the Bay and give people back the Bay.  In 1984 Gil was named Environment Citizen of the Year. Her name is now on a Wall of Distinction at the head of the Waterfront Trail at Bayfront Park. Gil was involved in many community groups and issues, including CHOP (Clear Hamilton of Pollution).

Tersilla Komac is the first woman who ran the Around the Bay race.  The oldest road race in North America was closed to women for 85 years.  Tersilla ran unofficially in 1975 and in 1976 registered as T. Komac.  In 1979 the Race was open to women and now the race is about equal in women and men runners.  This year a plaque was put up at the 12.5 mark along Beach Blvd honouring Tersilla. Although Tersilla did not live in the North End, she worked in the Cotton Mill on James Street.  Many North Enders run in the Around The Bay!

Alice Lupton was born in the North End and lived here all her life.  Alice was director on the North End Residents Organization (NERO) for several years.  She worked many years to bring medical services, a library, and legal aid to the North End.  She chaired the Picton Library Advisory Committee and served on the Executive and Board of Directors of the North Hamilton Community Health Centre.  Alice was involved in many other community organizations such as the Children’s Aid Society, Hamilton Status of Women Committee and others.

Eva Goudge was the first Coordinator/Publisher of the North End Breezes. I am still looking for more information about Eva and her contributions to the North End.

Wendy Collins was the Coordinator/Editor of the Breezes for nearly 14 years.  Wendy lives in the North End where she plays the organ at St. Lawrence, which was installed in 1908.

And a special call out to Margie Kneulman for continuing to raise money for people in Guatamala and Nancy Duncan, who with a few phone calls, managed to get CN to stop cutting down trees at the John Street Bridge!

I’ll end with a quote from Tersilla Komac “It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman.  Everyone should have the same rights.  Things just take a while sometimes for the right thing to happen.  Eventually, though it usually does.”