My mother, Lois Rae, turned 97 today, and we celebrated the occasion at a family gathering.  It was a great party, with a very special present.

Earlier this year she was chatting with her grandaughter Eleanor about her experiences as a history student at Newnham College in Cambridge University in the 1930’s.  She wrote her exams, she told us, but Cambridge did not give degrees to women.

It was at that point that we went on a quest.  At Newnham College Eleanor found Delia Pluckrose, who told us that Cambridge was allowing women graduates from before 1948 to finally get their degrees.  Lois was granted her degrees of B.A. and M.A. at a convocation held on November 26, and we arranged for them to be sent by courier in time for a birthday surprise.
Thanks to the History Department at the University of Toronto for helping to make all this happen.

So a beautiful woman who has been at the centre of all our lives finally got her well deserved degree, and we all learned more about the world of discrimination from which we’re emerging.  And grand-daughter Kate had the line of the day “Granny this will look great on your résumé.”

Bob Rae is a former member of Parliament and former premier of Ontario.