Sketch of Agnes Macphail
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.”


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 as the first female to be elected 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.

In 2017, as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary, her image was featured on a $10 bill. The 100th anniversary of Agnes Macphail’s election to Federal Parliament was commemorated in 2021.

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. The recipient is recommended to Toronto City Council by the East York Agnes Macphail Recognition Committee.

The 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.

Previous Award Recipients

Award Recipient Year
Paula Davies 2020**
Raymond White 2020**
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


**The 2020 Award Recipients were chosen in 2020 and their awards were presented in 2021.

The recipient of the 2022 Agnes Macphail Award was honoured in a virtual ceremony that took place on March 24, 2022. Watch the ceremony on the City’s Youtube Channel

The recipient received a medal and a framed certificate of recognition and had her portrait placed on an honour wall in the East York Civic Centre.

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. The Foundation accepts donations through Canada Helps for the charity chosen by the 2022 award recipient.

Image of Kam Babulal
2022 Agnes Macphail Award Recipient Kam Babulal

Kam Babulal

Kam is a wife, mother and grandmother who has lived in East York since 1975. She is described as a passionate leader whose care and compassion for others has been felt across the East York community through her dedicated volunteer efforts.

She¬† began her volunteerism through her children’s participation in various organizations including the East York Soccer Club, the William Burgess School, the Out of the Cold Program, the outreach, foodbank and breakfast programs at Calvin Presbyterian Church, and the community garden at the East York Community Recreation Centre.

Kam is best known for her participation in the East York Seniors Christmas Day Dinner, an event she has organized for the past 22 years that brings joy and cheer to over 400 seniors.

Her efforts in supporting the homeless have greatly benefitted the less fortunate in the community especially during the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kam Babulai is a strong advocate for people and a natural-born leader who genuinely cares about her neighbours and her community.