Skip to content

Our Story


CFUW has a new look!

CFUW has made the decision to move forward with our acronym to represent the new brand and our members. The process of incorporating a new brand and the abbreviation of our name was a two-year process.

Clubs were concerned that the word ‘university’ was not inclusive to prospective members. This prompted an extensive external consultation process on the requirements behind a legal name change. This also spurred internal consultation with members- through focus groups, two townhalls, an open member forum and surveys.

Concerns were brought up about losing the historical connection to the organization’s roots as well as potentially high financial costs to all clubs to adopt a new legal name ex. Charitable Trusts/Scholarships.  The legal name of the organization remains unchanged (Canadian Federation of University Women) but we now have licensing to CFUW.

Founding CFUW members were trailblazing university graduates at a time when universities in Canada were not yet generally open to women. Some members and clubs wanted to retain the historical roots of the organization while still opening membership to be more inclusive to women from all walks of life who support the goals and mission of CFUW.


Read our full Press Release on the launch of our new brand and website in English here and in French here.



The new look and what it means to CFUW

An Opening Book: a foundation in learning and education- open and expanding.

Unfolding Pages: a long history with many achievements- diversity of members- a mosaic- lotus flower.

Center Flame: lamp of learning- legacy brand- lighting the way upward and forward.

cfuw logo with mission statement

Our Story | The Beginning of CFUW

The remarkable industrial expansion that occurred after the beginning of the First World War opened up many opportunities for women. The increase of urban populations with its consequent industrial growth, led to opportunities for women in industry and in social work. At this time women were already well established in the teaching profession and entering medicine, law, journalism, nursing and social work in larger numbers.

Some of the leaders among university women in Canada had long dreamt of a national federation, but the effective impulse to found it came from Great Britain. Early in 1919, Dr. Winifred Cullis of Britain, who had spent time in Canada during the war years lecturing at Toronto University suggested that women in Canada might wish to organize a national federation so that Canada might become one of the first countries to join in the emerging International Federation of University Women. A similar suggestion came from Virginia Gildersleeve of the American Association of University Women to the effect that, while she hoped the Canadians would form their own federation, but that they might if they preferred, be allied with the American Association.

Canada’s response was immediate. In March 1919 at a conference of four of the leaders in university organizations – Mrs. J.A. Cooper, President of the Toronto Club, Mrs. R.F. McWilliams, President of the Winnipeg Club; Miss May Skinner, then representing Canada on the American Association’s committee on International Affairs; and Miss Laila Scott in Toronto it was decided to create the Canadian Federation of University Women. To read more about the beginning of CFUW click here.

History of CFUW Project

Our One Hundred Years: The Canadian Federation of University Women

Our 100 Years book cover graphicBy Dianne Dodd

More than one hundred years in the life of a vibrant organization.

To celebrate CFUW’s centenary, Dr. Dianne Dodd was engaged to write a history of the Federation. This engaging study of a still active women’s organization is more than a centennial history to make its members proud. It also provides a lively exploration of a unique organization founded by early women leaders in higher education who offered friendship, community engagement, and lifelong learning. With a leadership of exceptional women, the organization played a largely overlooked role in the women’s movement by supporting education and the arts, encouraging young women to pursue higher education and scholarships, and through its advocacy initiatives helped to build the Canadian nation.

Historical Awards to CFUW

In August, 2011, CFUW received notification from the Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment, that CFUW has received two awards:

Event of National significance – the creation of CFUW, and

National Significant Person: Alice E Wilson – (1881-1964), CFUW member, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the first woman to hold a professional position at the Geological Survey of Canada.