Our story


Carrie Derick

Carrie Derick 2Carrie Derick
Carrie Matilda Derick was born on January 14, 1862 in Saint-Georges-de-Clarenceville and died on November 10, 1941 in Montreal. She was the daughter of Frederick Derick and Edna Colton. She became the first woman ever admitted to the teaching staff of McGill University as a graduate from the Faculty of Arts. She served the college with distinction for 38 years.

Her career started when she was fifteen years old, as a substitute teacher at the Clarenceville Academy where she eventually became the principal. She then ran a private school in Montreal for a while and then enrolled at McGill University where she got her Bachelor of Arts.

Nowadays, women hold high positions in our universities but we are unaware that Carrie Derick was the first Canadian woman to be awarded a full professorship a hundred years ago.

Among the awards she received, let us mention the Prince of Wales Medal upon graduating from the Normal School of McGill University in 1881 and in 1890, the Logan Gold Medal in Natural Science, an award still presented today for distinguished achievement in Canadian Natural science. Her research in genetics became renowned within the international scientific community, a testament to her expertise and perseverance against the social pressures of that era.

Carrie Derick was appointed full-time Professor of Comparative Morphology and Genetics at McGill University in Montreal in 1912, after years of ground breaking work in genetics. She held the position of acting chairperson of McGill’s Botany department for three years. She was also a pioneer geneticist, a leading women’s rights advocate and a social reformer. She wrote several articles on various themes, from History to social reforms.