In a time where women writers were few and even fewer were making headlines, Margaret Marshall Saunders chose to work under a pseudonym while penning a book that went on to sell over a million copies in the late 1800’s – an unprecedented feat, at the time. After hearing of an abused dog having been rescued by a local, she was inspired to share his story in hopes of creating change. Beautiful Joe: The Autobiography of a Dog, did just that. It brought to the table a focused perspective of the often inhumane treatment of animals. The fame that accompanied Margaret’s novel forged many opportunities to give public lectures and to work with a multitude of organizations focusing on making a difference. She went on to become a prolific Canadian author who was most acclaimed for her children’s stories.
As somewhat of a pioneer who had the full support of her father, Margaret had a solid and diverse education across Canada and Europe. An author himself, as well as a man of the cloth, Edward Manning Saunders instilled in her strong moral values and encouraged her voice in a time when women weren’t measured on the same scale as men. Although she did not live to see all the awareness she created, she was awarded the Commander of the British Empire, designated as a national person of Canada, recipient of a commemorative plaque and celebrated with a society that created both a park and museum.
Our love of animals and the way we treat them speaks volumes about our character and how we interact with the world. Margaret focused much of her career writing about kindness and protection of all living things. She surrounded herself with and cared for a menagerie of critters. When looking at your path in this life, remember that the road paved with compassion will always serve far stronger than one of indifference. Where will you focus your strengths and energy?