From the archives: Cora Hind (Herstory 1974)

Cora Hind, via The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Cora Hind, via The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Ella Cora Hind (Sept. 18, 1861-Oct. 6, 1942) was Western Canada’s first female journalist and a women’s rights activist.

Cora Hind arrived in Winnipeg in 1882 at the age of 21, and after the Free Press (which made her forecasts famous 20 years later) refused to hire her, she learned to type on the first typewriter west of the Great Lakes. She worked as a legal stenographer for $6 a week before opening her own public stenography office.

She made her first wheat inspection in 1898, became known as an agricultural expert, and in 1901 was at last hired by the Winnipeg Free Press. In 1904 a promising wheat crop in Western Canada was attacked by black rust. Chicago wheat “experts” were called in and predicted a yield for the season of 35 million bushels. The Free Press wanted to challenge this estimate, which it was believed was made for speculative purposes, and sent Cora Hind to make an inspection. Her estimate was 55 million bushels, which turned out to be nearly exact.

Her analyses of the size and quality of the wheat crop were so uncannily accurate they helped determine the prices paid for Canadian wheat every year for a quarter of a century. Those forecasts were not divining but hard-headed judgments of an agricultural expert with a deep love for and commitment to the west.

She earned an international reputation and in her seventies received an honorary degree from Alberta University. In her 74th year she was sent by the Free Press to look into the agricultural conditions of the world “wherever a study of them would be of interest and advantage to Canada.” She visited 72 countries, taking two years for the journey, and in addition to her newspaper reports she wrote a book about her journey and findings.

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