Marie Gérin-Lajoie’s Typewriter

A Quebec feminist icon wrote her memoirs on this machine.

Written by Annick Desmarais

Posted February 16, 2023

This typewriter belonged to Marie Gérin-Lajoie, the first French-Canadian woman to earn a bachelor’s degree and an essential figure in the history of Quebec feminism.

Marie Gérin-Lajoie’s mother, Marie Gérin-Lajoie (née Lacoste), founded the Fédération nationale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, the first franco-Catholic feminist organization to emerge in Quebec. Born in 1890, the younger Marie Gérin-Lajoie was just twenty-three when she became the editor and manager of La Bonne Parole, the organization’s monthly magazine, in 1913.

In 1923, Gérin-Lajoie founded the Institut Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Conseil de Montréal — a religious community dedicated to fighting social and economic inequalities and improving the conditions of working-class women, families, and children. This was certainly her most important life’s work.

It was on this typewriter, a Royal model FP manufactured in the late 1950s or early 1960s, that she undertook to write the history of the Institut Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Conseil.

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This object resides at the Écomusée du fier monde.

This article originally appeared in Cinquante Merveilles de nos musées: les plus beaux trésors de la Francophonie Canadienne. The special interest publication was part of Projet Portage, a five-year initiative to connect history lovers in French and English Canada, generously supported by the Molson Foundation.

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