International Women’s Day 2021: Emma Sharpe

by Braden Murray

International Women’s Day 2021—

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we are highlighting the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of Kenora area women.

Emma Sharpe c1909

Emma Sharpe was one of Kenora’s early businesswomen.

She was born in Hamburg, Germany and by a circuitous set of circumstances, found her way to Rat Portage with Ernest Sharpe who she had married in 1882. Within a couple of years she was running the Bismarck House, a boarding house on the southeast corner of Second Street and Hennepin Lake. Her main clientele were young working men. The 1901 census indicates that among her boarders were: two farmers, a factory labourer, gold miner, carpenter, railway foreman and labourer, stone cutter and a painter/decorator. She sold the boarding house in 1916.

She wisely invested in several strategic properties in town, owning at least six rental houses and building the Sharpe Block on Second Street that housed retail shops and offices.

In 1929 she bought a McLaughlin Buick and learned to drive. She was 76 years old.

Photographer: H.E. Peagam of Toronto.

Did you know?

During the Second World War German prisoners of war were brought to the Lake of the Woods area to cut wood for the local mills.  Many of the prisoners enjoyed their time in the Canadian wilderness, and a number of them immigrated to Canada when the war ended.

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