Runaway Wives and Rogue Feminists

The Origins of the Women’s Shelter Movement in Canada

By Margo Goodhand  

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EPUB $19.99

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In the supposedly enlightened ’60s and ’70s, violence against women was widespread. It wasn’t talked about, and women had few, if any, options to escape their abusers. Yet in 1973 — with no statistics, no money and little public support — five disparate groups of Canadian women quietly opened Canada’s first battered women’s shelters. Today, there are well over 600.

In Runaway Wives and Rogue Feminists, journalist Margo Goodhand tracks down the “rogue feminists” whose work forged an underground railway for women and children, weaving their stories into an unforgettable — and until now untold — history.

As they lobbied for funding, scrounged for furniture and fended off outraged husbands, these women marked a defining moment in Canadian history, triggering monumental changes in government, schools, courts and law enforcement. But was it enough to stop the cycle of violence? Forty years later, these pioneers describe how and why Canada has lost its ground in the battle for women’s rights.

This is terrific fly-on-the-wall history: personal, immediate, juicy with anecdotes and real voices, telling the lively story of how young feminists defiantly invented women’s shelters in Canada back when violence was totally ignored or denied. And Goodhand brings us right up to date with feminism’s evolution in the confusing time of Trudeau and Trump.

— Michele Landsberg

Runaway Wives and Rogue Feminists gives voice to the tenacious and until now, unrecognized women who saved thousands of lives. Goodhand also gives insight and context to Canada’s often uncomfortable relationship with feminism and our attitudes toward violence against women. Runaway Wives and Rogue Feminists is a must read for feminists, academics and anyone interested in women’s contributions to Canadian history.”

— Jackie Foord, CEO, YWCA Edmonton

  • Kindle
  • ISBN: 9781773630014
  • September 2017
  • $19.99
  • For sale worldwide
  • EPUB
  • ISBN: 9781773630007
  • September 2017
  • $19.99
  • For sale worldwide
  • Winner, Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction (2018)
  • Winner, Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book (2018)

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  • “Goodhand’s book is a marker, a reminder, a handbook for young women to read and understand just how much worse it was for Canadian women very recently. And by that, yes, I’m implying that if things begin to slip back as they have in the U.S., this is what it will be like for you and your daughters.”

    — Heather Mallick, Toronto Star, Nov. 27, 2017 (full review)

  • Runaway Wives and Rogue Feminists should be required reading for those who think feminists are limited to the obsolete “man-hating bra-burners” stereotype. Goodhand’s work clearly articulates that feminism at its core is a profound search for equality.

    — Deborah Bowers, Winnipeg Free Press, Sept. 16, 2017 (full review)


  • Foreword by Lee Lakeman
  • Preface
  • Nowhere to Go
  • 1963: The First Wave and Betty Friedan
  • The Whooping Crane and the Royal Commission
  • 1970 and a Call to Action
  • A Dawning Awareness
  • Toronto: The Runaway Wives
  • Aldergrove: A Goddess Is Born
  • Alberta: A Legacy of Pioneers
  • Saskatoon: The “Women Alone”
  • Vancouver: A Home Base at Last
  • How They Operated
  • The Women They Served
  • Where Did We Go?
  • Where Are We Now?
  • Index


  • Margo Goodhand

    Margo Goodhand is the former editor-in-chief of the Edmonton Journal and the Winnipeg Free Press. She has been published in newspapers and magazines across Canada, including the Globe and Mail and The Walrus, as a syndicated columnist, news reporter, travel writer, editorial writer and arts and book reviewer.

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