Marion Dewar: A Life of Action

Marion Dewar: A Life of Action


By Deborah Gorham


A beloved mayor, her activism on behalf of refugees gives her accomplishments special resonance today. 

Winner of the Alison Prentice Award for Best Book on Women's History in Ontario and Ottawa Book Awards Finalist.

Marion Dewar could never ignore a person who was begging in the street. Along with money, she would offer words of encouragement and friendship. Perhaps it was her training as a nurse, her devout Catholic upbringing, or maybe it was simply because she was a genuinely compassionate woman. As mayor of Ottawa from 1978-1985, Marion Dewar worked tirelessly to bring about non-profit housing, better public transportation, support and encouragement for the arts, for peace, and for women’s rights. She advocated for visible minorities, gays and lesbians, and was the driving force behind the initiative to bring 4,000 boat people to Ottawa from Vietnam and Southeast Asia. She was a prominent member of the New Democratic Party and sat as a Member of Parliament in 1987-1988 - all while raising four children. Accompanied by archival and personal photos, an intriguing look at a woman who took action when it counted most.

A Feminist History Society Book

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About the Author

Deborah Gorham taught History and Women's Studies at Carleton University for forty years, including setting up, planning and teaching the first women’s history course at the university – one of the first such courses in North America. She is the author of Vera Brittain: A Feminist Life, and others. Deborah lives in Ottawa.

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Product Information

  • Release: September 13, 2016

  • $18.95 Paperback

  • 168 Pages

  • 9 x 6

  • Adult Nonfiction

  • ISBN: 9781772600094


"Enhanced with the inclusion of both archival and personal photos, Marion Dewar: A Life of Action...  provides an intriguing and informative biography of a singular woman's personal life and public political career." - The Midwest Book Review

"Deborah Gorham’s biography of the remarkable Marion Dewar (1928–2008) provides an inspirational example of the making of a major Canadian feminist." - Herizons

Read an excerpt from Marion Dewar: A Life of Action in the Ottawa Citizen.


  • Winner of the 2017 Alison Prentice Award for Best Book on Women's History in Ontario - Ontario Historical Society

  • 2017 Ottawa Book Awards - English Non-Fiction Finalist