Mary Mills, one of Canada’s first six female priests

The Rev. Mary Mills. Photo: General Synod Archives
The Rev. Mary Mills. Photo: General Synod Archives
Published July 21, 2011

On Dec. 1969, the Rev. Mary Laker Mills of the diocese of Huron became the first woman to be ordained a deacon in the Anglican Church of Canada. Seven years later, in Nov. 1976, she was one of the initial six Canadian women ordained to the Anglican priesthood.

On July 8, in her 94th year, Mills passed away in Glencoe, Ont.

Born in Hamilton, Ont., she worked as a stenographer, book keeper, commercial high school teacher and mother before joining the diaconate in 1969. As a priest, she served in several parishes in the diocese of Huron. After retirement, Mills became an honorary assistant at St. John’s Anglican Church in Glencoe, retaining that role until her 90th birthday. A celebration of her life was held at St. John’s on July 12.

The Anglican Church of Canada first ordained women as deacons in 1969 and priests in 1976. It consecrated its first female bishop in 1994.


  • Diana Swift

    Diana Swift is an award-winning writer and editor with 30 years’ experience in newspaper and magazine editing and production. In January 2011, she joined the Anglican Journal as a contributing editor.

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