Braithwaite, Hazel

(1905- 1994)

Hazel Braithwaite joined the ranks of the United Farm Women of Alberta (UFWA) 10 years after its formation. She was a 21- year-old farm wife from the Red Deer area. She had moved to Alberta with her parents at age 5 and married Clifford Braithwaite at age 16.

Hazel went to exercise her newly acquired voting rights during the 1926 federal election when a crowd of men blocked her path. She couldn't be stopped then, just as she couldn't be stopped in the years following, when her career as a political activist took flight.

She knew that she wanted to see change and help people. Hazel felt that women should be concerned with the outcome of the farming business. During her more than 40 years of involvement with the UFWA, Hazel held every executive position in the organization, including that of president. Her concerns, she said, were anything that affected the farm family.

Hazel's accomplishments included asking universities to relax their entrance requirements so that post-secondary education would become available to a greater number of high school students. She also put her children through college by working outside of the home. She learned to operate farm machinery, worked for the Red Cross and became the first director of civil defence for Red Deer West. She was appointed to the University of Alberta's Board of Governors and was elected to the University of Alberta Senate.

"A person can't belong to too many organizations," she once said, and causes from every social field seemed to find her. She raised six children on the farm and was inducted into the Alberta Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1978. She was praised for having promoted recognition of women as equal partners on the farm. Her last contribution to the development of the farm industry in this province was the establishment of the Parlby Scholarship, named for the farm woman who became Alberta's first female cabinet minister. The scholarship was awarded to students attending agricultural college in Alberta. Hazel died in Red Deer at the age of 89.

Category: Red Deer