A Tribute to Muriel Duckworth, Canadian Feminist And Peace Activist

Posted by Magnus Isacsson
August 23, 2009

Susan notes: Magnus Isacsson is a Montreal-based documentary filmmaker. He specializes in following social, political and environmental conflicts over long periods of time. He also lectures and leads workshops on documentary filmmaking. I learned of Isacson from a long-time family friend Joan Hadrill who has been a Raging Granny peace activist for many years. (Go Grannies Go!)

Coincidentally, Muriel Duckworth had a cottage on Lake Memphremagog where my family has lived for 40 years. Duckworth was an aquaintance of my Mom Patti, who is also an activist, primarily with respect to environmental issues.

muriel_duckworth.jpgMuriel Duckworth, pioneering Canadian feminist and peace activist, passed away Saturday, August 22, 2009, at the venerable age of 100, she was a Canadian pacifist, feminist and social and community activist. She was also a practising Quaker, a religious faith deeply committed to non-violence.

Duckworth was a founding member of the Nova Scotia Voice of Women, a provincial branch of the Voice of Women (VOW).

She served as the National President of VOW, now called the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, from 1967 to 1971.

She also helped establish the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, a coalition of about 100 Canadian organizations working for the elimination of poverty in Canada and around the world...


Duckworth was among the first women in Nova Scotia to run for political office as a New Democratic Party candidate in Halifax during the provincial elections of 1974 and 1978.

She was the 1991 recipient of the Pearson Medal of Peace for furthering the cause of international peace as well as the equality of women and men. She was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1983. (Photo above by Janet Munson in honour of Muriel Duckworth's 100th birthday.)

Muriel is also one of the main characters in the documentary I am making about the Raging Grannies, together with Muriel’s son Martin who is doing the camera work, Carole Roy, Minerva Gow, Étienne Gagnon and our producers at Island Film Works.

The last time I saw Muriel was when we did our last shoot with her some five weeks ago, at the Magog hospital. She received a visit from another Raging Granny, Marguerite Bilodeau, who is a retired nurse in addition to being a singer and peace activist. In characteristic fashion, ever the good-humoured activist, Muriel repeated her mantra  ‘War is stupid.’

Marguerite & Muriel_pic2
Marguerite and Muriel - my photo

Last year, we filmed Muriel’s 100th birthday party in the Eastern Townships - only one of three parties. I don’t believe in documentary being purely observational, and I helped organize a contingent of Raging Grannies from several cities who sang a song about Muriel, written by Granny Barbara Seifred. The song was in two parts. It’s a worthy tribute to a remarkable woman.

[Tune: Sweet Betsy from Pike]

Imagine Muriel Duckworth 100 this year….!
An occasion for a rousing good cheer…
With a cake and bright candles and much love to share…
To show our dear Muriel how much we care.

Oh Muriel Duckworth is a dear friend of ours…
In th’ Peace activist firmament she’s recognized as a Star!
Living legend…national treasure….beyond measure…by far…
Muriel Duckworth is our brightest spark!

[Tune: Clementine A SONG FOR MURIEL]

Muriel Duckworth, dear Muriel Duckworth…
Raging Granny….Superfine!
Peace activist and living legend….
A gold standard for Womankind!
A humanitarian…sometimes contrarian….
A hell-raiser with the Raging Grans ….
She wouldn’t be part of the revolution
Unless….like Emma…..she could dance!

She’s a Living National Treasure….
An inspiration for our lifetime….
A Quaker…a Peace maker
And mischief-maker…by design!
A founding member of Voice of Women….
She’s by definition: a pacifist…..
And a pilgrim to Hiroshima….
True anti-nuclear activist….

Muriel has the Order of Canada….
An impressive list of…..honorary degrees…..
To that we’ll add our Happy Birthday….
And our song….in a heartbeat!

[Tune: Sweet Betsy]

To Muriel Duckworth…femme formidable!
We treasure you as a friend….vraiment inestimable…
So here’s our Happy Birthday…you know that it’s meant
With Good Health and Good Cheer….and much merriment