Portrait Unveiled Of Edna Watson, 1st Female MP

July 21, 2013

edna watson65 years after she was elected as the first female Member of Parliament, a portrait of Mrs. Edna Watson was officially unveiled at the House of Assembly.

Mrs. Watson — along with Mrs. Hilda Aitken — was Bermuda’s first female Parliamentarian, having been elected to the House of Assembly in the 1948 General Election. Their election came only four years after women won the right to vote.

Both women served in Parliament for one term, and Mrs. Watson represented Paget while Mrs. Aitken stood in Smith’s.

According to the official biography handed out at the unveiling, Mrs. Watson was the first woman to speak in Parliament. She chaired two boards, and is best remembered as the founder of the Committee of 25 for Handicapped Children.

Mrs. Watson was born in Montreal and moved to Bermuda with her husband Robert Watson in the late 1920′s. In 1939, Mrs. Watson was in a plane crash that captured the attention of the media in Bermuda and the US.

She was travelling on the luxury flying boat Cavalier to Bermuda from New York, when an engine failed and the Cavalier crashed 400 miles off Bermuda.

Two passengers and one crewman died and the 10 survivors spent nearly 11 hours in the water. Mrs. Watson kept the Captain Roland Alderson afloat because he could not swim, thus saving his life, The survivors were picked up by a tanker.

Outgoing Bermuda’s Governor Sir Reginald Hildyard – he had resigned his post when the House of Assembly refused to allow him an official automobile – bestowed a medal for heroism on Mrs. Watson at a military ceremony in August, 1939.

She died in 1976 at the age of 80, only a few weeks after the Cavalier captain Roland Alderson, whose life she saved, visited her in Bermuda.

edna watson portrait

In an old Associated Press report, Mrs. Watson said, “I never had considered going into politics. The nice Bermuda men always have considered woman’s place was in the home.

“We have had women’s suffrage here only since 1944, you know. The 1948 elections were the first time a woman could run for office. The thing all came up very suddenly. I was asked one Thursday to stand for parliament. The next Thursday I was in.”

On Friday [July 19] her portrait — which was given as a gift by the Paget Parish Council – was officially unveiled at the House of Assembly.

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Category: All, History, News, Politics

Comments (14)

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  1. Takbir Sharrieff says:

    Looks like a Bermuda National Hero for 2013….hmmmmm I wonder why the O.B.A. could not find one…??/guess they were not looking for one and just wanted to break the tradition that the P.L. P. started….tsk tsk tsk such vengeful and childish behaviour…reminescent of the Old U.B.P.behaviour….guess that mentality is still alive and kicking…….Mr. Cannonier ..watch your back…..you are being stabbed..!

  2. Johnboy says:

    One day we will all be acknowledged as humans/brothers/sisters/family and we won’t worry about the first woman, first man, first Black person, etc, etc, etc and this world will be a better place for all…….

    • keep it real says:

      i remember watching the Waltons, Johnboy and i don’t remember any blacks in the show so go back to sleep with that idea. Good night John boy.

      • Johnboy says:

        I know it won’t happen anytime soon however it would certainly be nice to have love for ALL people regardless of sex, race, religion, wealth and status.

        Good night Keep it Real

  3. History is a very important tool that our young people need to know,because if we don’t know our past, we can’t truly relate to the present,Thus we wont be prepared for the future.

    It is good to know that a person such as Mrs Watson who only served a short term in parliament, but was the first female politician can be recognized foe her place in our history.

    Give honor where honor is due and this is long overdue.

    • Terry says:

      “History”; “young people need to know”.
      “if we don’t”.
      I am confused.
      Have a great day.

    • a swimming onion says:

      Totally agree, long overdue!

  4. ggurl says:

    Being a Proud Bermudian from St.DAVID’S knowing my history and pasting it on to my son and grandson has improved our lives!
    Know your History and share!
    Thank’s to Mrs.Watson for her service!

  5. god1st says:

    @ Takbir Sharrieff

    Those people cannot change they are freaks of nature and natural destroyers.

  6. Brad says:

    What? No $218,000 statue?

    • Victor says:

      …no, just understated old money with this one.