Peggy Ann Walpole was inducted in Episode 3: Women & Homelessness (42:30 min)
This week on the League of Extraordinary Women we'll be inducting the heroic Peggy Ann Walpole. In the 1950s Peggy Ann worked as a nurse at St Mike's hospital in Toronto with women experiencing abuse, poverty, addictions, and varying mental health issues. What was particularly wonderful and unique about Peggy's service is that she asked herself where these women were going once they left the care of the hospital.
As demanding as the life of a nurse can be her empathy reached beyond the hospital walls. Dealing with her own personal health issues, laying in a hospital bed around the age of thirty, Peggy made it her goal to put her concerns into action by opening a drop in space for women to feel safe. Women didn't have to enroll or qualify to visit. Peggy simply wanted a place for women to drink tea, have a snack, or even just share conversation. In an old skid row Atlantic Hotel with four chairs and one table, Peggy gave woman their first place to feel free of stigma, to feel safe, and to share experiences with other women. Only around a year later it became an overnight crisis center that included ten beds. Peggy had around fifty regulars that went on to get jobs or jobs training and started their lives off in a better place. This was such a new and beautiful outlet for women that until then never existed. It truly emphasized the power of a good meal, a place to stay, and what happens when women are free from discrimination.
Peggy did not stop there! Today a red brick mansion in Toronto on Pembroke Street offers housing, addiction services, a learning center, and most importantly a safe space. Rightfully so, Peggy was honoured with the citizenship medal. Sadly in February 2006, Peggy peacefully passed way back where all her hard work began at St Mike's hospital in Toronto. What Peggy did for woman is too heroic to describe in words. She was a strong badass woman who dedicated her life to others and continues to change and better the lives of women in Toronto today. Thank you Peggy. Thank you for being a superhero.