Founded in 1924 by six pioneering women attending the CMA annual meeting, our founders recognized that they could serve both professionals and patients by forming the Federation of Medical Women of Canada. The six founding physicians were:

  • Dr. Maude Abbott, Chair – 1869-1940
    Among Canada’s earliest female medical graduates, an internationally known pathologist and researcher
  • Dr. Elizabeth Bagshaw – 1881-1982
    Medical advisor to Canada’s first birth-control clinic.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Embury – 1866-1945
    One of the first women to graduate in medicine in Canada
  • Dr. Janet Hall
    Family doctor (Trinity, 1899)
  • Dr. Helen MacMurchy – 1862-1953
    One of the few doctors working in a senior position in federal government
  • Dr. Jane “Jennie” Smillie – 1878-1981
    The first female surgeon in Canada

View our past presidents

FMWC was initially affiliated with the British Federation of Medical Women, and later became an independent nation member of its mother organization, the Medical Women’s International Association.

Since its inception, FMWC has acted as a guardian for women physicians, residents and medical students.

To learn more about the history of FMWC and women in medicine in Canada, read The Indomitable Lady Doctors, available in bookstores or on

Our emblem consists of the staff and snake of Aesculapius, the god of healing in Greek mythology. The addition of the single wing symbolizes the spread of peace through the alleviation of disease and ignorance.

The Presidential Insignia of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada was a gift from the medical women of Holland to the FMWC. The medal was given in gratitude for the part played by Canadians in the liberation of Holland, particularly in the Battle of Arnhem. It was also meant to express expressed appreciation for Canadian hospitality during the war. The Arnhem Medal was presented to Dr. Margaret Owen at the International Congress of Medical Women, held in Amsterdam in 1947. Since that time it has been used as the Presidential Insignia of the Federation and is presented annually.