THE CANADIAN FRENCH-SPEAKING WORLD and some of the people who have contributed to its greatness



Jeanne Sauvé

Date of birth:
April 26, 1922

Place of birth:


Journalist, politician and activist


Photo : Ville de Montréal, Gestion de documents et archives



















Jeanne Sauvé left Saskatchewan at a young age when her parents sent her to finish her education at the Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire Convent in Ottawa. She then studied at the University of Ottawa. After that she took part in many youth movements, including the Jeunesse étudiante catholique de Montréal. From 1942 to 1948, she travelled in North America and served as a bilingual spokeswoman for the Mouvement de l'action sociale. In 1948, she married Maurice Sauvé and the couple decided to move to London, and then to Paris. She worked as an assistant to the Youth Secretariat of UNESCO and obtained a diplome d'études in French civilization from the University of Paris.

On her return to Canada in 1952, Jeanne Sauvé began a career as a freelance journalist for CBC Radio-Canada, CTV and a number of American networks. She wrote editorials in major Canadian papers, she was very active in many organizations, including the Union des artistes, the YMCA, Bushnell Communications, the Canadian Institute on Public Affairs and the Institut sur la recherche politique. In 1982, Jeanne Sauvé decided to enter federal politics. Once elected, she accepted the position of Minister for Science and Technology, becoming the first woman from Quebec to enter the federal Cabinet. Later, she was appointed Minister of the Environment and Minister of Communications. She was recognized for her excellent management and leadership skills. On April 14, 1980, she was elected Speaker of the House of Commons, becoming Parliament's first woman Speaker. She presided over a number of contentious debates, including the Repatriation of the Constitution of Canada in 1981 and the omnibus bill (legalization of homosexuality) in 1982. While she was Speaker, Jeanne Sauvé restructured the administrative and financial management of the House of Commons. Her term as Speaker ended on November 30, 1983, after a long and tumultuous parliamentary session of three and one-half years.

On December 23, 1983, she was appointed the first woman Governor General of Canada. She declared that it was an important break-through for all the women of Canada. Her term began on May 14, 1984. In addition to her official duties, she argued for peace, national unity and youth. She crisscrossed the country to promote national unity and to make the Governor General's role better known. For health reasons, she withdrew from public life and used her time to create a $10-million fund for youth. During her prestigious career, Jeanne Sauvé was named Companion of the Order of Canada and Commander of the Order of Military Merit in 1984, member of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jérusalem and winner of the Canadian Centennial Medal in 1967 and the Queen's Jubilee Medal in 1977. On January 26, 1993, Jeanne Sauvé died in Montreal.