Journalist / Feminist (1874-1961)
Born in York County, Ontario, the daughter of James Barnes and Rebecca Beynon, and sister to Francis Marion Beynon, she came to Manitoba with her family in 1889, and was educated at the Winnipeg Collegiate Institute and Wesley College, graduating from the University of Manitoba in 1905. She taught at Morden then, in 1906, she joined the staff of the Manitoba Free Press, where she served as assistant editor of the Weekly Free Press and wrote as “Lillian Laurie.” She served as Secretary of the Local Branch of the Canadian Women’s Press Club from 1907 to 1908 and was a member of the Executive of the Women’s University Club in 1910. She was an organizer of Women’s Institutes in connection with Extension Department of the University of Saskatchewan, in 1910.
Her first successful short story won a prize from Maclean’s magazine and was published by the American Magazine. She was an active feminist and advocate of women’s suffrage, especially involved in the Political Equality League. She worked in New York from 1918 to 1923 but returned to Canada with her husband, A. V. Thomas, to write. She authored several successful plays, including Among the Maples; Jim Barber’s Spite Fence (winner of the Dominion Drama Award for Manitoba); and As the Twig Is Bent. Her first novel, New Secret, was published in 1946.
Her articles for the Manitoba Historical Society:
Some Manitoba Women Who Did First Things MHS Transactions, Series 3, Number 4, 1947-48 Season
Reminiscences of a Manitoba Suffragette Manitoba Pageant, Volume 5, Number 1, September 1959
Historic Sites of Manitoba: Laura Secord School (960 Wolseley Avenue, Winnipeg)
Who’s Who in Western Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of Western Canada, Volume 1, 1911. C. W. Parker, editor. Canadian Press Association, Vancouver.
Credit: Manitoba Historical Society