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Charlton, Margaret Ridley

Main entryCharlton, Margaret Ridley
Birth placeLaprairie, Quebec
Birth date10 December 1858
Death placeMontreal, Quebec
Death date1 May 1931
Birth nameMargaret Ann Charlton
Alternate namesLynn Hetherington
Marital statussingle
Religious affiliationAnglican
Degree and dateGrad, Library Economy, Amherst College, Massachusetts
Paid workjournalist; librarian; teacher (school)
BiographyAfter the early death of Captain John Charlton's (c1815-c1860s), daughter Margaret Ann Charlton (1858-1931) assumed the middle name Ridley to honour her father's descent from the Anglican martyr, Bishop Ridley. Similarly, she fashioned her pseudonym, "Lynn Hetherington," from the family's ancestral mansion in North England. Educated at home until she was sixteen, in 1874 she became one of the first girls admitted to the High School of Montreal. After graduation, and before working as a Montreal schoolteacher in the early 1880s, she joined the editorial staff of the DOMINION ILLUSTRATED, to which she contributed historical sketches. She collaborated with her friend C. A. Frazer* to produce children's stories and historical romances, among them A WONDER WEB OF FAIRY STORIES (1892), one of Canada's first books of fairytales. Deeply affected by Frazer's sudden death in 1894, Margaret redirected her career to librarianship, a profession not yet established in Canada and thus requiring that Margaret attend a summer course offered at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Her first position was as librarian at the YMCA library. In 1895, breaking into the predominantly male academic arena, she was appointed as librarian of the Osler Medical Library at McGill University, where for 19 years she devotedly built the collection. One of the founders and probably the instigator of the Medical Library Association, she moved in 1914 to The Academy of Medicine in Toronto. Despite her accomplishments at McGill, Margaret had worked in an environment that was often uninviting to women, and because of personality conflicts, left feeling unappreciated. She retired at the age of 63 and returned to her sisters in Montreal. Late in life she resumed her literary and historical writing, contributing to academic journals. Her major work, "Outlines of the History of the Medicine in Lower Canada," published in the ANNALS OF MEDICAL HISTORY (1923-24), established the foundation for later scholarship. Margaret died in Montreal in 1931 and was buried at Mount Royal Cemetery. In 2003, she was designated a "Person of National Historical Significance" by the Government of Canada for her work as a librarian and co-founder of the MEDICAL LIBRARY ASSOCIATION.
Honours and awardsDesignated a Person of National Historical Significance (2003)
ResidencesMontreal, Quebec (1866-1914, c1921-1931); Toronto, Ontario (c1914-c1921)
Geographic regionsQuebec; Ontario
Primary genresfiction; non-fiction
BooksA WONDER WEB OF STORIES (1892) with C.A. Frazer; WITH PRINTLESS FOOT (1894) with C.A. Frazer; IN THE DAYS OF SIR WALTER RALEIGH (1900).
Father's nameJohn Charlton
Life dates of fatherc1815, Laprairie, Quebec - before 1871; m. 1851
Father's notearmy officer
Mother's nameMargaret Elizabeth Warren
Life dates of mother31 October 1834, Ontario - c1914; m. 1851
Biographical referencesFrancis, "Margaret Charlton and the Early Days of the Medical Library Association," BULLETIN OF THE MEDICAL LIBRARY ASSOCIATION 25 (1936), 58-63; Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada; 1871 Census of Canada; 1881 Census of Canada; 1891 Census of Canada; 1901 Census of Canada; 1911 Census of Canada; Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967
Bibliographic referencesWatters, CHECKLIST OF CANADIAN LITERATURE...1620-1960 (1970), p. 259
Research referencescomplete
Image creditsLine drawing by Una Vernelli (Vancouver, British Columbia).
CopyrightThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) at Please cite Canada's Early Women Writers. SFU Library Digital Collections. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada. 1980-2014.