Ardyn H.

Chelton, Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island Provincial Heritage Fair

Catherine Callbeck, a Woman of Firsts

My Heritage Fair project traces the life of the Honorable Catherine Callbeck, from childhood to present day, by visiting important historical sites on Prince Edward Island. Catherine Callbeck is a very accomplished woman, who grew up in the small rural community of Central Bedeque in Prince Edward Island. She served as Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), Member of Parliament (MP) for Malpeque, was the first female Premier of P.E.I., a Member of the Senate of Canada, inducted into the Canadian Women in Politics Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the Order of Canada.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?

The most important lesson that I learned from Catherine Callbeck was that through hard work and trying new ventures, individuals can accomplish great things. In an interview, she shared that she was able to overcome shyness and persevere by being inspired by great role models. This made me realize that young girls like me have the power to achieve whatever they desire and that no dream is too large.

What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?

This week on P.E.I. we are celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Confederation Bridge, which connects P.E.I. to the mainland. Catherine Callbeck is important to Canadian history because she was instrumental in paving the way for the changes in the Constitution of Canada, which made it possible for the building of this bridge.

How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?

My life today, as a young girl, is very different compared to the time period that Catherine Callbeck grew up in, 1940's and 1950's. I attend a large school in a neighbouring city, as opposed to attending a small community schoolhouse. I shop in the city in large stores as opposed to shopping in a local general store like the one owned by the Callbeck Family. Also, transportation to and from Prince Edward Island is very different; as we now have the Confederation Bridge, as opposed to only having ferry service. Catherine Callbeck and her government worked on having the Constitution of Canada changed, so that the Confederation Bridge or Fixed Link could be built, connecting Prince Edward Island to the mainland. This bridge stretches 12.9 kilometers and is the longest in the world crossing ice-covered water. Finally, I feel girls and women today have many more opportunities, in education and politics, because of the great Canadian role models like Catherine Callbeck.