Lydia Emélie Gruchy was the first woman to be ordained in the United Church of Canada, the initial major denomination to affirm ordination of women. Born near Paris in 1894, and raised in France and England, she came with her family to Strasbourg, Saskatchewan, in 1913. She attended Normal School, taught school, and in 1920 received her BA from the University of Saskatchewan. In 1923 she graduated from Presbyterian Theological College (now St. Andrew's College) in Saskatoon. For thirteen years she served as a rural lay minister - at Verigin, Wakaw, and Kelvington. In 1926 she sought ordination in the newly formed United Church of Canada. She renewed the request repeatedly until 1936, when the United Church approved women's ordination. Having obtained a position on the staff of St. Andrew's United Church in Moose Jaw, she was ordained there on November 4, 1936.
She later served in national church administration and theological education in Toronto. Returning to Saskatchewan in 1943, she served pastoral charges at Naicam, Simpson, Cupar, and Neville until her retirement in 1962. In 1953 she became the first Canadian woman to receive the Doctor of Divinity degree, from St. Andrew's College. Gruchy died in British Columbia on April 9,1992. In 1994 the College established the Lydia Gruchy Chair of Pastoral Theology in her memory, and in 2003 the chapel at St. Andrew's United Church (Moose Jaw) was named the Lydia Gruchy Chapel.
Peter J. Calhoun