Grace McCarthy

First woman in Canada to serve as Deputy Premier (1975)

Grace McCarthy

Grace McCarthy was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. At the age of 17, she opened her own flower shop, Grayce Florists, which she soon developed into five retail locations.

An established small-business owner, McCarthy moved into the political realm upon election to the Vancouver Parks Board. During her three terms at the municipal level she helped to secure open spaces for park development and led efforts to coordinate recreational activities for people with disabilities.

In the 1965 provincial general election, McCarthy ran successfully as the Social Credit Party candidate for Vancouver-Little Mountain. During her first term, McCarthy successfully lobbied provincial and federal governments to enable women to apply for mortgages without a male guarantor. She was re-elected in 1969, 1975, 1983 and 1986.

During the New Democratic Party administration of 1972-75, McCarthy served as President of the Social Credit Party. She was widely credited with rebuilding the Party and helping to ensure its return to power in the subsequent provincial general election, for which efforts she became popularly known as “Amazing Grace.” Following the electoral victory of the Social Credit Party in 1975, McCarthy became the first woman in Canada to serve as Deputy Premier.

As a member of cabinet, McCarthy held various portfolios including recreation and the travel industry, human resources, government services and economic development. She initiated the first toll-free help line for children, worked to establish the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre and was instrumental in securing British Columbia’s role as host of Expo 86.