Elizabeth Hutchinson, an Anglican Award of Merit winner known for her support of women’s rights, died Jan. 19 in Rosemère, Que. She was 90 years old.
A longtime member of Grace Anglican Church, Arundel, Hutchinson served on multiple occasions as a member of General Synod, chairing its worship committee and serving on the Anglican Church of Canada’s Faith, Worship, and Ministry committee.
In 2023, Hutchinson received the Anglican Award of Merit, the Anglican Church of Canada’s highest honour for lay people at the national level. Bevin Boyd, a parishioner at Grace Church, says Hutchinson was “one of those dedicated church people that was involved in every way in the church community” across Canada and around the world.
Hutchinson was also a staunch activist for the rights of women. From 1997 to 2001 she served as president of the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC), a nationwide advocacy organization for women’s welfare, and was an active member of the Provincial Council of Women in Quebec and the Montreal Council of Women. She also served on the board of the homeless women’s shelter Auberge Madeleine.
Bishop of Montreal Mary Irwin-Gibson first met Hutchinson in 1978 when the latter arrived in Canada from Britain with her husband, the late Rev. Raymond Hutchinson, who would serve as priest at Grace for many years.
“Elizabeth was a very intelligent, intellectual, practical, honest, kind, discreet person,” the bishop says. She describes Hutchinson as gifted with a great sense of humour and always championing different causes, continuing to advocate for the ordination of women in the Church of England long after the Anglican Church of Canada began ordaining women in 1976. “I really admire her for the hard work she did on national church committees,” Irwin-Gibson says.
As a young woman, Hutchinson studied in India, learning Sanskrit and taking part in the country’s Student Christian Movement. Susan Winn, a fellow Anglican Award of Merit recipient who serves on the partnerships committee in the diocese of Montreal, met Hutchinson when the two travelled to Brazil in the early 1990s for a gathering of hundreds of Anglican women. She calls Hutchinson “a good friend who had many stories to tell about her time living in India,” adding, “she was a great storyteller.”
Marianne Wilkinson, current NCWC president, says Hutchinson was always a very thoughtful person. “She would work with others all the time and she would support individuals if they were working on something that they had some difficulty with,” Wilkinson says. “She was always there to give a helping hand and she wasn’t afraid to take on any job. If something needed to get done, if she was available, she’d do it.”
A mother and grandmother, Hutchinson is also survived by her brother, sister, nephews and nieces.