Charlotte Whitton was born at Renfrew, Ontario. Charlotte was one of this century's most colourful and controversial women. Pugnacious and energetic, she is best remembered as Ottawa's flamboyant and outspoken mayor during the 1950s and 1960s.
Her more significant accomplishments, however, occurred during her earlier career as the director and driving force behind the Canadian Council on Child Welfare from 1920 to 1941. Charlotte joined the fledgling council after a brilliant academic career at Queen's during WWI.
During the Depression, she became a key adviser on federal unemployment relief policy. An arch social conservative, however, Whitton's opposition to more liberal spending on the unemployed in the 1930s placed her increasingly on the margins of Canadian social work
After resigning from the Welfare Council in 1941, Whitton championed women's equality in politics and the workplace. However, her views on women, as on the welfare state, were contradictory. She opposed more liberal divorce laws and criticized married women who worked.
Elected as a controller to Ottawa's municipal council in 1950, Whitton became the first woman mayor of a major Canadian city in 1951. She was re-elected mayor in 1952 and 1954, and again in 1960 and 1962. Defeated in 1964, Whitton continued as an alderman until her retirement from politics in 1972.
She lived with her partner Margaret Grier for 32 years. Witton is credited with creating the slogan: "Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought of half so good ... luckily, it's not difficult."