Sketch of 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.” She was featured on the commemorative Canada 150 $10 bill.

In 1921 she blazed a path for women with her election to the federal House of Commons. In 1943, she became the first woman elected to sit in the Ontario Legislature, representing the riding of York East (which at that time included the community of East York and a large surrounding rural area). For further information on her life and accomplishments, visit the Agnes Macphail Website and Digital Collection hosted by the Grey Highlands Public Library.

On March 24, 1993, then East York Mayor Michael Prue proclaimed the first annual Agnes Macphail Day in the Borough of East York, in honour of the 50th anniversary of her election to the Legislature.

In January 1994, East York Council established the Agnes Macphail Award.

The purpose of the award is to recognize the importance to the East York community of the issues that Agnes Macphail espoused in her long 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 interests:

  • 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.

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

The ideal candidate will live by Agnes’ motto, “Think Globally, Act Locally”.

The nominee should be an outstanding volunteer, advocate and contributor to community life. The contribution should be in an area of, but not limited to, Agnes Macphail’s traditions and interests. Nominators should satisfy themselves that the candidate has volunteered in several fields, not just one, and that the various commitments extend over considerable periods of time.

We are not receiving nominations at this time.

Please check back later in 2021 for nomination information concerning next year’s award.


Anyone may nominate a candidate. Do you know an East Yorker who is involved in social justice issues — who believes in “thinking globally but acting locally” — and is an outstanding contributor to community life in areas such as women’s rights, fairness to seniors and youth, criminal justice system and penal reform, international peace and disarmament, access to adequate housing, access to adequate health care or access to adequate education? This person could be our next Agnes Macphail Award recipient — but only if a nomination is completed.

We encourage all community groups in the former Borough of East York to nominate a candidate who meets the criteria and espouses Agnes Macphail’s tradition of leadership. Nomination packages must include some or all of the following information. Only information actually written in the nomination package will be considered. The Committee is not permitted to contact the nominator for further information.

  • Nominator’s testimonial of the nominee’s accomplishments, particularly the outstanding volunteer contributions.
  • Biography/Profile of the nominee which could include particulars about the nominee such as education background, work and additional volunteer experience and hobbies. This could take the form of a CV or résumé if one is available.
  • Affiliation with other organizations, associations, and committees is an important aspect of the diversity of the nominee’s contribution.
  • Letters of support from organizations or individuals are important in describing the commitment and diversity of the nominee.

The Agnes Macphail Award Ceremony is postponed from its usual date in March out of consideration for public health and safety. A new date will be announced in the future.

The recipient(s) have the honour of designating a charity to receive donations and presents the cheque at the ceremony. They will also receive a medal and framed certificate of recognition. As well, their photo will be added to the gallery of recipients at the East York Civic Centre.



Each year the Agnes Macphail Fund receives donations from our citizens that are passed on directly to a registered charity.

Donations are being accepted towards the charity chosen for the 2020 award.

We invite you to contribute to the Agnes Macphail Fund of The East York Foundation by completing the donation form and mailing it to the address below.

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

Secretary-Treasurer, East York Foundation
c/o 50 Merritt Road
East York, ON  M4B 3K6

Winner Year
Paula Davies

Raymond White

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