Glimpses of a Western Woman's Career in Law and Social Service
EDITH G. BAYNEDecember11918
Genevieve LipsettSkinner, LL.B.
Glimpses of a Western Woman's Career in Law and Social Service
EDITH G. BAYNE
TO be mistress of three strenuous professions—pedagogy, journalism and law—and at the same time a most indefatigable social service and patriotic worker is the enviable record of Mrs. Genevieve Lipsett-Skinner. LL.B. of Winnipeg. In addition to all this, she is President of the Consumers’ Protective Association, Vice-president of the Civic League, Vice-president of the Portia Club and an able executive in the Canadian Women’s Press Club.
The story of Mrs. Lipsett-Skinner’s career sounds like hectic fiction. She is a young woman of abounding energy and infinite resource and allied to these quaij ities she is of that very significant mixi ture of Scotch and Irish which is foreordained to success—with a big S. Prairie bred, she is of course a thoroughgoing Westerner, but she has seen enough of other parts of the world to impart breadth j to her point of view. In 1912 she was appointed by the Minister of the Interior to [ lecture in Great Britain on “Opportunities r for Women in Canada,’’ but she does not ! stop short at lecturing. She follows it up with the personal touch as many a little | immigrant, British and foreign, in Win! nipeg’s north-end could attest. When you meet Mrs. Lipsett-Skinner on the street she is usually upon a mission of mercy ; for the cause of poor children and sick I children lies very close to her heart.
TpROM a wheat farm four miles from Napinka, in Manitoba she went at the age of fourteen to Hunter College in New York City. Memories of the long walks to school over the blistering prairie in \ summer or the icy wind-swept plains in winter, clung to her however and during ! her vacations while at college she dreamed ¡ dreams of some day helping to make other 1 prairie children’s paths smoother. These vacations were by no means idle ones. ! Sometimes she went “governessing” with the children of wealthy families and somej times she was a “saleslady” in department stores. Once she worked for a Jew in a i
men’s furnishing and dry-goods emporium and laughingly she tells how she lost her job. Her mother, who always called her in the morning went away for a holiday in the mountains and she was obliged to have recourse to the time-honored but not always dependable alarm-clock. She set the clock in a dishpan on the chair near her bed and went trustingly to sleep. When she awoke it was a quarter to ten ! so, arriving at the store she was notified promptly and unequivocally that she was “fired.”
“And thus vanished my eight per!” said Mrs. Lipsett-Skinner. “To this day a mention of an alarm-clock in a dishpan is good for a laugh at our house.”
After this she returned to Canada and taught school on the prairie, twelve miles from a railway. Here she was very lonely, deprived as she was of the society of her mother and brother whom she calls her “other two-thirds.” The little family has been styled “The Trio.”
“Anything I may have accomplished,” she will tell you, “is due in large part to my mother who put the ambition into both of us and kept it more or less on fire. To this day she is always setting new goals for us. She herself was born a generation too soon for her own advantage. She was always in advance of her times, a wonderful woman, of Highland Scotch descent and with all the traditions of that race. I think she has, to a very limited extent, realized her own thwarted ambitions in us. My brother, Robert Lipsett, at 27 is second in command of the Winnipeg Telegram and is said to be the youngest newspaper chief in Canada. We are very proud of him. At 17 he was a cub reporter on the same paper and from the start he made good, having at the end of his first year more ‘scoops’ to his credit than any other reported in town. At 21 he was city editor of the Tribune. So you see journalism seems to be a family profession. And throughout the very much checkered careers of her children mother has been the inspiration and guiding light for us both.”
Mrs. Lipsett-Skinner advanced from school teaching to a private-secretaryship and thence to journalism. She has been for a number of years one of the special feature writers on the Winnipeg Telegram. She says that some day she hopes to write a Canadian story.
“I met my husband at a party seven years ago at the home of Sir James Aikins,” said Mrs. Lipsett-Skinner. “At first he was opposed to my studying law. He is an alert young business man and felt that he was quite equal to earning the family living unaided. When he realized, however, that it wasn’t exactly to earn a living that I desired to become a law student he gave in and he has been my most ardent supporter. I have had no more encouraging friend than he. I wanted to study law because I felt that my sphere of usefulness to the women and children of Western Canada could be enlarged if I possessed a knowledge of our legal system. As to the financial side of that, or of my journalistic work I shall always be poor because the Scotch part of me is always fighting with the Irish and the tendency to save is always combatted by my impulsive generosity, a trait, handed down by my father who was born in County Sligo, Ireland. So, although I earn a good deal with my pen it seldom stays with me or is used for my own direct benefit.”
Mrs. Lipsett-Skinner says she consumed quantities of strong coffee to keep awake while plugging away, by aid of the midnight incandescent, at the principles of equity or attempting to grasp all the vagaries of International Law. She graduated from Manitoba University in 1917, with honors of course.
Personally, Mrs. Lipsett-Skinner is one of the most interesting of women. She is versatile, yet sincere, warmly sympathetic and yet with a nicely balanced judgment that should prove to be of infinite value to her in the strenuous course she has mapped out. With all her tremendous responsibilities she has made quite a local reputation as a fine cook, her home-made bread being particularly praiseworthy. She dislikes housework. It makes her rebellious and unhappy, she says. But she likes to evolve dainty dishes and to entertain her large circle of friends. She is very fond of children, “particularly mischievous small boys,” and is a dog lover, possessing an English bull named William and a Boston terrier called Banquo.
It is safe to prognosticate that this splendid Canadian woman will achieve still further distinctions when she is called to the Bar.
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