E. CORA HIND
By Mary M. Alward
Ella Cora Hind was born on September 18, 1861 in Toronto, Ontario. She was the youngest of three children, her older siblings being two brothers. Cora’s mother died when she was two. Her father died of cholera while working in Chicago when she was five.
Cora and her brothers went to live with their grandfather, Joseph Hind, when her mother died. His farm was located in Grey County, Ontario. He taught Cora about farming, cattle and horses. This education assisted her in future endeavors.
The Hinds lived like all homesteaders of that time – off the land. As with all farming operations, the weather affected crops.
Cora’s grandfather wouldn’t allow her to start school until she was eleven, because the school was several miles away. Her Aunt Alice taught her at home until 1882, when a new school was built on her grandfather’s farm. Her family moved shortly thereafter to Flesherton, Ontario, where she received her primary education. Cora attended high school in Orillia, Ontario. She lived with her Uncle George Hind. She then wrote the third class teacher’s examination at the age of twenty. Teaching was the only job available to women in that part of the country in 1882.
While waiting for the results of her teaching exam, Cora had a surprise visit from her cousins who lived in western Canada. They told her and Aunt Alice of great opportunities in the west. Cora and her aunt decided to move west to take advantage of the favorable circumstances.
When Cora and Aunt Alice arrived in Winnipeg, the population was 14,000. They had planned on continuing to Brandon, Manitoba, but upon hearing how primitive it was, they decided to stay in Winnipeg. Aunt Alice found them a room in the Dundee Block on Main Street, where she ran a dressmaking shop from the room.
Shortly after arriving in Winnipeg Cora learned she had failed the teacher’s exam. Aunt Alice encouraged her to study algebra, the only part of the exam she’d failed and try the exam again. Cora had other plans. She dreamed of becoming a journalist. She applied for a job at the Manitoba Free Press. Unfortunately she was told that a newspaper office was no place for a woman.
Cora pursued other interests. In 1898, she made her first crop predictions. She soon became known as an agricultural exert. The “Free Press” decided it had made an error in judgement. It hired Cora as an agricultural reporter in 1901. Cora became agricultural editor. In 1904, she published the first of twenty-nine annual predictions on the prairie wheat crop. These predictions were used around the world to determine the price of Canadian wheat.
During this time Cora and Aunt Alice became involved in The Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Cora and Dr. Amelia Yeomans formed the Manitoba Equal Suffrage Club. Their motto was, “Peace on Earth goodwill toward men.” Together with clergy, businessmen and politicans, they improved the conditions of Winnipeg. Cora and Dr. Yeomans worked especially hard to improve the lives of women and the poor. They spoke against working conditions in clothing factories and living conditions in prisons. Cora was a founding member of The Winnipeg Women’s Press Club.
Cora believed agriculture was a business and was the first journalist to write about it as such. She was involved in several rural organizations as well as the suffrage movement. Along with Nellie McClung and Lillian Beynon Thomas, she helped to form the Political Equality League. This league campaigned for women’s rights to vote, which were granted in 1916.
Cora was guest speaker at the founding convention of the Saskatchewan Homemakers Club in 1911. Her speech encouraged women to be active and to make use of “labor saving devices.”
Cora was honored for her contributions to agriculture by the Canadian Society of Technical Agriculturists, The Wool Growers of Manitoba and The Western Canada Livestock Union. She was presented with an honorary LLD degree by the University of Manitoba.
After Cora died in 1942, the United Grain Growers created the Cora Hind Fellowship for research in agriculture. The Cora Hind Scholarship in home economics was created by the “Free Press.”
Cora left behind a great legacy. She wrote, “The usual statement is that I am a remarkable woman because I can do it; the implication is that the average woman is too dumb to succeed at a man’s task and I resent that implication, for it is false.”
Mary M. Alward is a freelance writer from Ontario, Canada.