Sketch of Agnes Macphail
Image of Agnes Macphail Credit: Irma Coucill

The Agnes Macphail Award is an annual award that recognizes an individual(s) from the East York community who has exemplified the causes that Agnes Macphail championed in her long and distinguished career.

Agnes Macphail

Agnes Campbell Macphail (1890-1954) was once described as “the most important woman in public life that Canada has produced in the 20th century.”

2021 marks the 100th Anniversary of Agnes Macphail’s election as Canada’s first female Member of Parliament in 1921. She was featured on the commemorative Canada 150 $10 bill in 2017. This milestone achievement was also designated an anniversary of significance by the Government of Canada in 2021.

Image of Agnes Macphail House
Image of Agnes Macphail House located in East York. Credit: City of Toronto photographer

In 1921, Agnes Macphail blazed a path for women with her election to the federal House of Commons. In 1943, she became the first woman elected and sworn to sit in the Legislative Assembly, representing York East (which included the Borough of East York and the surrounding rural area). For further information about her life and accomplishments, please visit the Related Links section on this page.

On March 24, 1993, former East York Mayor Michael Prue proclaimed the first annual Agnes Macphail Day in the Borough of East York, to honour the 50th anniversary of her election to the Legislative Assembly at Queen’s Park.

In addition to the Agnes Macphail Award, her legacy is recognized across Toronto with the naming of : Agnes Macphail Public School, Agnes Macphail Square, Macphail Avenue, and the Agnes Macphail House, which has been designated as a property of cultural heritage value under the Ontario Heritage Act.

The Agnes Macphail Award was established in January 1994 by the former Borough of the East York Council. The award recognizes the connection of the East York community to the causes Agnes Macphail championed in her long and distinguished career.

An annual award is presented to an East York resident who has made outstanding contributions as a volunteer in one or more of the following areas:

  • Women’s rights
  • Fairness to seniors
  • Criminal justice system and penal reform
  • International peace and disarmament
  • Access to adequate housing, health care and education

The nominee must be a resident of the former Borough of East York who lives by Agnes’ motto, “Think Globally, Act Locally”.

Nominees from previous years are eligible for re-nomination. Previous recipients are ineligible.

A virtual ceremony honouring the 2020 recipients of the Agnes Macphail Award, Paula Davies and Raymond White, was held on March 24, 2021.

View the ceremony

Award recipients are given the opportunity of designating a charity to receive donations from the Agnes Macphail Fund that is managed by The East York Foundation, a registered charity. Donations are now being accepted for the charities chosen by the 2020 award recipients.

Donations can be made to the Agnes Macphail Fund of The East York Foundation by completing the donation form and mailing it to:

Secretary-Treasurer, East York Foundation

c/o 50 Merritt Road
Toronto, ON M4B 3K6

Donations made to The East York Foundation are deductible for Income Tax purposes. A charitable tax receipt is issued at the time of donation.

Nominations are not being accepted at this time.

Please check back later in 2021 for the nomination process concerning the next award.

Paula Davies

Image of Paula Davies, a 2020 recipient of the Agnes Macphail Award. Credit: City of Toronto photographer.

Paula Davies was named a 2020 recipient of the Agnes Macphail Award for her leadership and work to protect the quality of natural spaces for future generations.  Paula’s contributions are distinguished by her extensive experience and expertise working to restore the natural park area at Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve on the grounds of the historic site.  This hands on work is carried out by a Stewardship Team using principles of restoration from the Society for Ecological Restoration International. Ecological Restoration is assisting the recovery of degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems.

In addition, Paula’s voluntary work includes service to the Ontario Invasive Plant Council, The Ontario Phragmites Working Group, Protect Nature TO, Toronto Field Naturalists, the Don Regeneration Council, the Habitat Committee of the Task Force to Bring Back the Don and Friends of the Don East.  She served on the advisory group for the Todmorden Mills Museum, and was a member of the Community Liaison Committee for the East Don Trail.  Paula represented the Preserve on the Broadview Avenue Planning Study as a member of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee.  She was a member of the East York Environment Committee before amalgamation.  She is currently a board member of the Toronto Historical Association, and a member of the East York Historical Society and the East York Garden Club.

Paula is an outstanding volunteer and contributor to many organizations, and a humble pillar of the community.  She has shown leadership in developing local solutions to ensure that city parkland can be a refuge in the city for nature, birds and animals and especially for the enjoyment and education of young people. She has also instilled a love of nature, and the desire to protect it in the many volunteers she has mentored over several years.

Raymond White

Image of Raymond White
Image of Raymond White, a 2020 Agnes Macphail Award recipient. Credit: City of Toronto photographer.

Raymond White has demonstrated a passion for people, especially those in vulnerable communities. His volunteer work has spanned many years and he is actively engaged in numerous leadership roles.  An outstanding advocate and contributor to community life, he has promoted educational and recreational opportunities for young people and the preservation of East York history.

Raymond has made contributions to the governance and leadership of community not-for-profits by volunteering and contributing his knowledge and experience to the Greater Toronto Hockey League, The East York Foundation, Leaside Hockey Association, Leaside Memorial Community Gardens Board of Management, as well as the Leaside Sports Hall of Fame, East York Canada Day Committee and the East York Christmas Dinner for local seniors.

He has also followed his passion for the game of hockey and volunteered on the bench, coaching the Leaside Flames Hockey Club for 20 years until 2015, as well as coaching the Toronto Police ProAction Hockey League, where he taught skills, sportsmanship and the joy of playing hockey to the youth of the Thorncliffe and Flemingdon Park communities.

Previous Award Recipients

Award Recipient Year
Karen Fraser 2019
Carol Burtin Fripp 2018
Rev. Jim Parker 2017
Patrick Rocca 2016
Muhammad Masood Alam 2015
Sheila Lacroix 2014
Alan Redway 2013
Alice Carriman 2012
John Carter 2011
Bill Pashby 2010
Patricia Moore 2009
Geoff Kettel 2008
Lorna Krawchuk 2007
Shamsh Kara 2006
George Hurst 2005
Vi Thompson 2004
Dorothy Rivers-Moore 2003
Bob Hart 2002
Grace Stephens 2001
Audrey Tobias 2000
Barbara Thompson 1999
Elisabeth and Robert Lister 1998
Ruth Goldhar 1997
Marjorie Lewsey 1996
Eileen Morris Adams 1995
J. Edna Beange 1994