Jeanne Sauve, 1922-1993
Date of Issue
March 8, 1994
Perforation or Dimension
12.5 x 13
Canadian Bank Note Company, Limited.
Designed by Jean Morin. Designed by Tom Yakobina. Based on a photograph by Yousuf Karsh.
In her lifetime, Madame Jeanne Sauvé achieved many firsts, culminating with her appointment as Canada's first female Governor General in 1984. Jeanne Benoît was born in Prud'homme, Saskatchewan, the fifth of seven children. Raised in a French home, her father Charles Benoît was a building contractor from Ottawa and her mother Anna Vaillant, a school teacher from Ste-Cécile-de-Masham. Eventually they moved back to Ottawa so the children could receive an education in French. At the age of five, Jeanne Benoît entered Notre Dame du Rosaire College, a convent run by the Grey Nuns. As a skilled speaker from an early age, she was often chosen to address dignitaries visiting the school. Schooling was easy for her. She supplemented her textbook education by going to the public library and visiting museums and the Parliament Buildings with her family. She graduated with flying colours and was awarded a scholarship. Unfortunately, she had to decline with much disappointment. Room and board was too dear, and her father was already paying tuition fees for two of his other children. This temporary setback did not deter her for long; it only strengthened her resolve to attain a higher education, no matter the sacrifices she may have had to endure. Jeanne Benoît decided to pay her own tuition and related expenses. She worked as a translator by day and attended classes at the University of Ottawa by night. While studying, she still found time to participate in activities of the JEC (Jeunesse étudiante catholique), a reformist youth movement which encouraged young people to question the ideas of the Church and the establishment. This movement began in Europe and came to Canada in the early 1930s. Confident, mature and a great speaker, she became president of the JEC for the Ottawa diocese. In 1943, she was appointed national president of the girls section, affording her the opportunity to travel across Canada. It is quite possible that these travels entrenched her commitment and enthusiasm for federalist views. In 1946 she met her future husband, Maurice Sauvé. They married two years later and moved to England where Maurice had won a scholarship at the London School of Economics. Then the couple moved to Paris to pursue various work and study assignments. They returned permanently to Canada in 1952. Mme Sauvé began a 20-year career as a freelance journalist and broadcaster with the CBC, Radio Canada. She hosted public affaires programs such as "Femina" and "Opinions". She was a sought-after and frequent guest on many others, including "Les Idées en Marche" and "Viewpoint". Fluently bilingual, she also wrote many editorials for both "La Presse" and the "Montreal Star". At the height of her journalism career in 1959, she became a mother. It was not fashionable nor accepted to bring a baby to work, she brought along Jean-François anyway. Later, in what she considered one of her greatest achievements, she was responsible for establishing a day-care centre on Parliament Hill in 1982. Maurice served briefly in Lester Pearson'cabinet, but it was Jeanne who became the real politician in the family. In 1972, she was elected in the Montreal riding of Ahunstic and was appointed to Pierre Trudeau's cabinet as Minister of State for Science and Technology, the first woman from Quebec to be named a federal cabinet minister. Re-elected in 1974, she became Minister of the Environment. A year later she was given the portfolio of Minister of Communications. In this role she undertook many assignments related to Communications, some at the Department of External Affairs where she was responsible for French-speaking countries. Back in power in 1980 after a brief hiatus, Pierre Trudeau urged her to accept the position of Speaker of the House, the first woman to occupy that chair. Three years later she accepted the Prime Minister's offer to become Canada's first woman Governor General.
Canada Post Corporation. Canada's Stamps Details, Vol. 3, No. 2, 1994, p. 4-6.
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