Women of Brave Mettle

More Stories from the Cariboo Chilcotin
In this much-anticipated second volume in the Extraordinary Women Anthology series, Diana French follows up on Gumption and Grit with more stories of the women who have contributed, or who are still contributing, to the vibrant mosaic that is the Cariboo Chilcotin. The area has more than its share of remarkable women, from educators to rodeo stars, doctors to playwrights, administrators to environmentalists, artists to politicians.

In earlier days, nurse Jane Lehman, the daughter of pioneers, traveled long, lonely miles by horseback in the West Chilcotin to reach her patients. Jessie Pigeon was Canada's first female Government Agent, and Gwen Ringwood was already an internationally known playwright when she came to Williams Lake with her doctor husband.

Later-day heroines include June Striegler, whose teaching career has spanned over seventy years and Joan Gentles, an outstanding courtworker, educator, and rodeo competitor. Former mayor Ethel Winger likes to relax by prospecting for gold, and Lynette Cobb serves the community from her wheelchair. Helen Haig-Brown is an award-winning filmmaker, Xeni Gwet'in Chief Marilyn Baptiste stands tall to protect her people and land from the latest gold rush. Pharmacists Adaline and Cathie Hamm are among the mother/daughter combos serving the community.

Diverse as they may be, the women of the Cariboo Chilcotinshare their ability to meet all challenges head-on and do what needs to be done with love, strength and humour.

Diana French Diana French has called the Cariboo Chilcotin her home since 1951 when she came to teach in a one-room school. She married Bob French, the son of a pioneer family, and they lived in different parts of the area before settling in Williams Lake in 1970. Along with raising five sons, Diana continued to teach, and later worked as a reporter then editor for the 'Williams Lake Tribune'. She still writes a weekly column for that paper. She is the author of 'The Road Runs West: A Century Along the Bella Coola/Chilcotin Road' (Harbour Publishing) and co-authored, with Rick Blacklaws, 'Ranchland: British Columbia's Cattle Country' (Harbour Publishing).

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