"The Lady from Ontario": Marjorie Wells Pinney and the Struggle for Democratic Socialism in Ontario
Abstract

This is a biographical study of Marjorie Wells Pinney, a leading activist in Ontario's democratic socialist party, the CCF/NDP, from the 1940s to the 1980s. I illustrate two things in this article. First, that in her capacity as the party's director of organization and, later, "riding specialist," Wells played a crucial, but as yet unrecognized role in keeping the CCF/NDP alive during the bleak years of the 1950s and in laying the foundations for its rise to prominence thereafter. In so doing, she challenged the contemporary stereotype of the powerless partisan woman at a time when conventional gender roles were generally much in favor. Second, I contend that Wells was able to achieve such a position mainly because of her "politicized" childhood and determined character, both of which allowed her to overcome the cultural and structural constraints which, then as now, limit most women to more traditional functions, political or otherwise.


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