|Honorary Degree Recipient, Jessie Caldwell, September, 1984 (Photograph Collection, A-7934)|
Convocation date: September 28, 1984
Special Convocation: 75th Anniversary Special Convocation
Discipline / contribution: public service
Citation / biographical information:
Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of the Council and Senate, I present to you Jessie Caldwell.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Jessie Caldwell has a distinguished record of public service, reflecting a lifetime of remarkably varied contributions to her community, her province and her country.
Jessie Rowles was born in Manchester, England in 1901. The family emigrated to Canada in 1910, eventually settling on a Saskatchewan homestead near the Alberta border town of Empress in 1915. It was here that she completed high school, studying on her own since there was no high school in the area. After attending Normal School in Saskatoon she taught at Eston before enrolling in the University of Saskatchewan in 1920, earning her way by teaching in rural schools and working for the Dominion Chautauqua during the summers. In 1924 she received her Bachelor of Science degree, graduating in the same class as her brother William Rowles, and preceding one other brother and two sisters, all of whom are graduates of this University.
There are few fields of endeavor that have not been touched by Jessie Caldwell's interest and service, and in many of them she blazed new trails. Education was one such field. Following her marriage in 1924 to Dr. A.L. Caldwell and the establishment of his medical practice in Cabri, Saskatchewan she began her public service in earnest as chairman of the Cabri Consolidated School Board from 1929 to 1941. She served this University from 1930 to 1951 as the first woman alumni representative elected to the University Senate, and has been an active member of the University Women's club for 40 years. When her husband joined the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps in 1941, she and her son moved to Saskatoon where she was soon appointed to the volunteer Dependents' Advisory Conmittee to the Armed Forces for the Saskatoon Region.
In another first, Jessie Caldwell was the first woman appointed to the National Film Board of Canada.
Her keen interest in international affairs and her work with the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, and the United Nations Association in Canada, Saskatoon Branch was recognized by her appointment in 1953 as a member of the Canadian delegation to the Eighth General Assembly of the United Nations, the first Saskatchewan citizen to serve on the delegation. She later served as joint chairman of the Saskatchewan World Refugee Year Committee and travelled and spoke extensively on the work of the United Nations.
Jessie Caldwell's years of service to the Council of Women are reflected in the awarding of life memberships by all three levels of the Council — local, provincial and national. As well as serving as president or on the executive at all levels, she wrote and edited the Saskatoon and National newsletters for many years, and wrote part of the history of the Saskatoon Council. She was a founding member of the Canadian Association of Consumers.
Service to her church has been important. A member of Knox United Church, Jessie Caldwell has held office at all levels, including serving on the National Board of Evangelism and Social Service and the National Commission on Immigration. For 6 years she was a member of the Board of Governors of St. Andrew's College.
Following her political convictions and tradition of service Jessie Caldwell stood for election twice: in 1952 for the provincial legislature and in 1958 for the Parliament of Canada. She served as president of the National Federation of Liberal Women of Canada and as first Vice president of the National Liberal Association of Canada, following similar service at the local and provincial levels.
Personal interests — art, archaeology and horticulture ~ have also provided avenues for contribution. As a knowledgeable collector of Canadian art, Jessie Caldwell was a founding member of the Saskatoon Art Centre Association. She has been President and Honorary president of the Saskatoon Archaeological Society and is an honorary life member of the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society. Her son, T.D.R. Caldwell, Q.C., is a graduate of this University with degrees in Arts and Law and is Senior Crown prosecutor in Saskatoon.
In addition to the host of honorary and life memberships, and listing in the Canadian Who's Who, Jessie Caldwell has been honored as an outstanding citizen by the City of Saskatoon, and the Government of Saskatchewan, and was named a Canadian Achiever by the Government of Canada.
Through service which is informed by her intellect, leavened by her wit, and enriched by her generous and irrepressible spirit, Jessie Caldwell has left her mark on the social, community, religious and political institutions of her city, province and country.
Mr. Chancellor, I present to you Jessie Caldwell and ask that you will confer
on her the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Degree presented by: Gwenna Moss
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