From the Saunderson Rare Books Room: Dr. Emily H. Stowe

For those familiar with Trinity College and its connections to the Anglican Church, they would not be surprised to know that the John W. Graham Library has an extensive collection of the Book of Common Prayer. For those less familiar, the BCP contains the liturgy for the Anglican Communion and is a key text for this denomination of Christianity. We hold all sorts of different printings, editions, and translations. However, in some instances, the book isn’t interesting because of what it is but rather who owned it.

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This copy of the Book of Common Prayer, bound with the New Testament, was owned by Dr. Emily Howard Stowe. If you grew up in Canada, you may remember her from this Heritage Minute, where she urges Jennie Trout to be patient in the face of harassment and intimidation from their male colleagues. Trout became the first woman licensed to practice medicine in Canada, and Stowe was the second in 1880. However, Stowe was the first woman to practice medicine in Canada, having attended the New York Medical College for Women. She opened up a medical practice in Toronto specializing in women and children in 1867. A strong and persistent voice in support of the advancement of women in Canada, she started the Toronto Women’s Literary Club, Canada’s first suffrage group, in 1876 and she helped found the Woman’s Medical College in 1883. Her daughter, Ann Augusta Stowe-Gullen, became the first woman to obtain a medical degree in Canada. More information about Dr. Stowe can be found in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

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The book bears her signature, and the fragile state of some of the pages and detached cover suggest it was once heavily used. Tucked inside the book is some stationery which bears her medical practice’s seal and address. The note itself seems to be lists and explanations of various figures in Greek classical mythology, such as Ganymede or the Naiads. The address, 111 Church Street in Toronto, is currently a pawn shop located just north of Richmond Street.

Like all our rare books and special collection items, this volume is available for consultation any time in the John W. Graham Library. For further information, please inquire at the circulation desk or contact us at ask.grahamlibrary@utoronto.ca.

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