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Strum, Gladys (1906–)

Gladys Strum, January 1961.
Ralph Vawter (Saskatchewan Archives Board) 60-800-01

Gladys Strum (née Lamb) was a prominent activist in the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). Born on February 4, 1906, on a Manitoba farm, she moved to Saskatchewan in 1922. She taught school and secured Normal School training. In 1926 she married Warner Strum, a farmer near Windthorst; they had one daughter. Her CCF involvement began in 1935, under the tutelage of Louise Lucas (whom she met as a result of participation in Homemakers’ Clubs). In 1944 Strum was elected president of the Saskatchewan CCF, the first woman in Canada to head a political party. In 1945 she won a close federal race in the Qu’Appelle constituency, becoming the fifth woman member of Parliament; the following year she was defeated. In the 1960 provincial election she successfully ran in the constituency of Saskatoon City, but lost her seat in the 1964 Liberal sweep. Strum, who now held BA and BEd degrees from the University of Saskatchewan, returned to teaching and caring for the farm.

Strum balanced the often-competing roles of wife, mother, farm woman, teacher, and politician. Personal experiences, including her husband’s recurring battle with tuberculosis as well as the marketing difficulties of farmers, had led her to embrace CCF policies, but she disliked CCF unwillingness to affirm women’s equality. She denounced women’s inferior place in politics, and lobbied Premier T.C. Douglas for appointment of a female Cabinet minister. She retired to Penticton, British Columbia, in 1968.

Tina Beaudry-Mellor

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Further Reading

Taylor, G. 1986. “Gladys Strum: Farm Woman, Teacher and Politician,” Canadian Women’s Studies 7 (4): 89–93.
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