Macdonald, Annie Caroline

Annie Caroline Macdonald, missionary, social reformer, educator (b at Wingham, Ont 15 Oct 1874; d at London, Ont 17 July 1931). She graduated from the University of Toronto in 1901 in mathematics and physics. After serving as one of the first professional secretaries of the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) in Canada, she went to Japan in 1904 to help establish the YWCA there and was national secretary until 1915. During these years and later, she was a part-time teacher of English and the Bible at Tsuda College for women.

When a young Christian friend murdered his wife and 2 children, Macdonald was drawn into a new vocation among hundreds of men in Tokyo's prisons and became an advocate of penal reform among government bureaucrats. She established a settlement house in Tokyo to provide support services to wives and children of prisoners, ex-prisoners, juvenile delinquents and factory workers. There she organized labour schools for men and women and was a mentor to leaders of the conservative wing of the labour movement, and of the Social Democratic party.

Honoured by the Emperor in 1924 for her social work, a year later Macdonald was the first woman to receive an LLD from the University of Toronto.

Macdonald identified herself fully with her adopted country, joining a Presbyterian church, where she was the only foreigner, achieving exceptional fluency in Japanese and taking pride in Japanese achievements. Her sharp mind, a genuine egalitarianism and a never failing sense of humour lay behind a capacity for friendship that gave her influence among members of all social classes.