Peacefully passed away in her 96th year at the Ottawa General Hospital, on April 24th, 2016. Daughter of the late Marguerite Blache Baxter and Alan Isaac Ritchie; predeceased by her brothers, Norman and Robert; survived by her niece Lynn Kongham and nephew, Lance Ritchie.
Born in Edmonton, AB, Dr. Ritchie received her Bachelor of Law Degree from the University of Alberta wand then her Masters of Law from McGill. She was called to the Bar of Alberta in 1944; later that year she arrived in Ottawa, beginning her pursuit of justice with the federal Government, which was where she felt she could make the greatest impact for her beloved country.
Through her work with Canada’s Department of Justice, she played a role in amendments to parliamentary procedure and constitutional and international laws and provided a voice on women’s rights. She represented Canada’s interests in several international meetings, including the Warsaw Convention in the Hague in 1955. In 1963, she became the fist woman in Canada to be appointed Federal Queen’s Counsel. In 1972, she was appointed Vice-Chair of the Anti-dumping Tribunal to restore faith in its operations.
In 11974, she founded the Human Rights Institute of Canada, a non-profit organization whose mandate it was to ensure equality and justice for Canadians, especially for women and Aboriginal women, and to champion government accountability. The Institute was a voice for the citizens of our country for 39 years, being dissolved in 2013.
In 2000, Dr. Ritchie was appointed to the Order of Canada, for dedicating “her life to the advancement of justice and equality” and to “advocate for change and to promote the equality of women”. This was one of many awards of recognition she received in her lifetime.
In 2014, Dr. Ritchie continued to make an impact on Canadian women with a generous donation to the Ottawa Hospital Foundation which built a new minimally invasive gynecology suites at the Shirley E. Greenberg Women’s Health Centre at the Ottawa Hospital. Another generous donation was made in 2015 to the Ottawa Hospital Breast Clinic. And in death, Dr. Ritchie will continue to make a positive impact for all Canadians, as many charities will benefit form her generosity. Dr. Marguerite E. Ritchie truly was a Canadian hero. She blazoned a path for all women, in a time when gender equality did not exist. Words cannot describe the positive impact she has made on our country through her lifelong, unselfish pursuit of justice.
A Celebration of her life with be held at the Fairview Chapel, 259 St. Patrick St. Ottawa, ON Tuesday, May 17, 2016, from 5:00 pm to 7:00pm. In Lieu of flowers, donations to the Shepherds of Good Hope would be greatly appreciated.