I have always been a feminist by instinct, and for several decades was a feminist activist for women because of the personal discrimination I had faced. However, I consider myself primarily a biologist, and indeed have written an unpublished long essay on myself as a woman zoologist. This present essay will consider the part of my life devoted to myself as a woman, and to women in general.
I was lucky to grow up in a solid middle class home. My father was a professor at the University of Toronto who would later have a college named after him because of his scholarship on staple resources in Canada and his history of communication - his research laying the groundwork for that of Marshall McLuhan. Although we didn't have a car in the 1930s and 1940s, we did live in a large house and had, when my mother was busy with a writing project, a maid. While my mother, Mary Quayle Innis, was looking after her four young children, the oldest nine when I, the youngest, was born, her husband, Harold, asked her to write a book on the economic history of Canada so that he would have a textbook for one of his large courses. She had studied this subject at the University of Chicago where she was an undergraduate and my father a doctoral student, but she had not done graduate work herself. Even so, she rallied around and wrote An Economic History of Canada (1936) which was well-reviewed and used as a class text for at least the next twenty years. After my father died in 1952, she revised several of his books and then became Dean of Women at University College until she retired. (I published an article on her economic work in 2000).