1874-1948

1874, Surrey, England.

Plumptre studied at Somerville College, Oxford University, where she met and married Henry Pemberton Plumptre, vice-principal of the theological college. They moved to Toronto, Canada, in 1901 when he accepted the position of principal at Wycliffe College. Upon arrival, Adelaide took a job at Havergal College, an elite Anglican girl’s school.

Adelaide became a activist in an array of different causes. She was active in the Young Women’s Christian Association, a founding member of Girl Guides of Canada, and active in the women’s movement and the Canadian Council of Women. She became Director of Supplies of the Canadian Red Cross in September 1914, and stayed in that role for the whole of World War I. She took the lead in organizing the logistics of the Red Cross’ wartime relief efforts across Canada and overseas. She also directed the communications and recruitment of the Red Cross, writing much of the material herself; she was the first woman named to the executive of the Canadian Red Cross. In 1918, she was appointed by the federal government to be chair of the Woman’s War Council.

In 1926, Plumptre was elected to the local school board. She served on the board nine years, and became the first woman elected chair of the Toronto Board of Education. In 1931, she was made Canada’s official delegate to the League of Nations in Geneva, one of only two women to be a delegate to the League. She was also the Canadian delegate to the International Red Cross meeting held in Tokyo in 1934.

In 1936, Plumptre became the third woman ever elected to Toronto City Council, where she was a activist for the city’s poor. In 1941 she ran for a seat on the Board of Control, losing by only a few hundred votes. In World War II, she resumed her work with the Red Cross and led the Prisoner of War Bureau. She was made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1943.

Plumptre’s works include:

  1. Keep Thyself Pure