Spry, Irene, 1907-1998: Irene Mary Spry (née Biss), economist and historian, was born 28 August 1907 in Standerton, the Transvaal, South Africa, the daughter of Evan E. Biss and Amelia Bagshaw Johnstone. She married Graham Spry (1900-1983) in 1938 and they had three children, Robin, Richard and Elizabeth (Lib). Irene Spry's father was a senior colonial official in the field of education whose career took him from Africa to India and back to Africa again. On the outbreak of war in 1914, Irene and her sister Anne and brother Evan went to live with their aunt Mary Johnstone in Surrey, England. She received her early education in England, attending the Bournemouth High School for Girls. In 1923 she enrolled at the London School of Economics but after one year transferred to Girton College at the University of Cambridge to read economics. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cambridge in 1928 and went to Pennsylvania to study for her Masters in Social Research with Professor Susan M. Kingsbury at Bryn Mawr College. Her major research project there was a report on "Married Women in Industry without Children". After graduation in 1929, she weighed offers from different universities but went to the University of Toronto as a lecturer in the Department of Political Economy. During her time in Toronto (1929-1938) Irene began to write and research in the field of economics and work closely with the department's rising star, Harold Adams Innis. She also became in the early 1930s one of the founding members of the League for Social Reconstruction (LSR), displaying the social awareness and labour sympathies that she had inherited from her father and developed in the Cambridge Labour Club. She wrote a pamphlet, "The Industrial Revolution in Canada", for the Social Service Council in 1933 and wrote parts of two chapters of the LSR's "Social Planning for Canada" (Toronto, 1935). She was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1934 and in that year enrolled as a PhD student with Innis. Her thesis topic was water power in Canada and her field research took her on extensive summer trips to northern Ontario, western Canada, and the Northwest Territories. Innis also encouraged her to write a volume on hydroelectric power in Canada for the Canadian-American relations series funded by the Carnegie Corporation. She completed neither the volume nor the thesis, however. Instead, she married Graham Spry in 1938 whom she had met through the LSR. In accordance with the policies of the university, she had to resign her teaching position on marriage. Graham and Irene Spry moved to England in 1938 where he went to work for an oil company and later for Sir Stafford Cripps. Irene returned to Canada on the outbreak of war in 1939 with their first child, Robin. She worked for the YWCA as an economic advisor for a year before joining the Wartime Prices and Trade Board as an economist (later the Commodity Prices Stabilization Board). After the war, Graham took up an appointment as Agent-General for the government of Saskatchewan in London, and Irene joined him there, establishing Saskatchewan House. During the 1950s, Irene became active in the international women's movement serving as the representative of the Federated Women's Institutes of Canada (FWIC) to the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) from 1954 to 1967. In this capacity, she was chair of the executive committee and general purposes committee from 1959 to 1965, and Deputy World President of the ACWW from 1968 to 1974. She travelled widely in the 1960s and 1970s on behalf of the ACWW visiting many of the sixty-five countries with member societies and meeting rural women and homemakers throughout the world. Through this activity, she forged a worldwide network of friends and associates. Irene returned to the pursuit of scholarly research and writing in the late 1950s. In 1957, the government of Saskatchewan asked her to locate documents relating to John Palliser's exploration of western Canada to commemorate its centennial. She uncovered documents in archives, libraries and private homes throughout the British Isles and developed a lifelong interest in Palliser and western Canadian history that produced several books and scores of articles in academic and popular publications. Her research took her to Canada, the United States and even New Zealand in an exhaustive search for Palliser manuscripts. Her first book, "The Palliser Expedition" (Toronto: Macmillan, 1963, reprinted in 1973 and 1995), told the story of the expedition in a narrative style. As its name suggests, "The Papers of the Palliser Expedition" (Toronto: Champlain Society, 1968), was a collection of documents relating to the expedition. She also edited the memoirs of Peter Erasmus, a Métis guide with Palliser, for publication in "Buffalo Days and Nights" (Calgary: Glenbow-Alberta Institute, 1976). Graham retired in 1967 and they returned to Canada where Irene began her second academic career as a Visiting Professor at the University of Saskatchewan. They moved to Ottawa the next year and she joined the staff of the University of Ottawa as a Professor of Economics. After her "retirement" in 1973, she continued to teach part-time until early 1980s as Professor Emeritus. She served on the university senate during 1970-1971 and on its Board of Governors from 1973 to 1976. During her University of Ottawa years she continued to pursue her twin research interests of economics and history, often applying an inter-disciplinary approach. She co-edited "Natural Resource Development in Canada: A Multi-disciplinary Seminar" (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1973 ) with Philippe Crabbé and wrote and published extensively on economic issues such as rent and royalties, non-renewable resources, demand theory, leisure and conservation. Her historical research evolved outward from Palliser to embrace the economic development of the Prairie provinces and more specifically the transition from a nomadic to a settled agricultural economy in the nineteenth century. In this respect, she became a central figure in the group of historians working in the emerging field of western Canadian history in the 1970s. Irene did not slow down after Graham's death in 1983, continuing to write articles for journals and biographies for the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. She co-authored "The Records of the Department of the Interior" (Regina: Canadian Plains Research Centre, 1993) with Bennett McCardle, essentially a descriptive catalogue of archival sources. The University of Alberta Press accepted her last book, "From the Hunt to the Homestead", on which she had worked since 1968, shortly before her death in 1998, but it has not appeared in print. Irene Spry won numerous honours and awards during her lifetime. She received honorary doctorates from the University of Toronto in 1971 and the University of Ottawa in 1985. She was awarded the Royal Society of Arts Silver Medal in 1964 and made a Member of Honour of the ACWW in 1985. The Seniors' Group of the University of Regina conferred upon her its Distinguished Canadian Citizen Award in 1987 and she received the Council of Canadians Award in 1991. She was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1993. Karen Shopsowitz produced a film about her life, "Wit and Wisdom: Irene Mary Spry" in 1995. She was also honoured with a festschrift in 1985, "Explorations in Canadian Economic History: Essays in Honour of Irene M. Spry" and a symposium, published as "Social Democracy in Europe: A Model for Canada?", in 1997. She died 16 December 1998 in Ottawa.