At Face Value: The Life and Times of Eliza McCormack/John White


264 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-7735-0765-5
DDC 328.71'092




Reviewed by Sika Eliev

Sika Eliev is a library assistant in the J.N. Desmarais Library at
Laurentian University.


Eliza McCormack and her family left Ireland in 1845 to escape the great
famine. In Canada, Eliza eventually forsakes her female identity to
become John White, a prominent politician who was elected to Parliament,
serving as a trustworthy Tory backbencher from 1871 to 1887. According
to Akenson, Eliza was thus the first female member of Parliament in

Akenson capably allows the reader to discover the most secretive life
of a woman existing as a successful male public figure. His book reveals
Eliza’s drive to succeed in a man’s world, a drive so strong she was
willing to give up her female self in the process. Eliza’s courage and
strength should bring hope to all women who read this book.

Although the book lacks an index of names and places, leading to
confusion at times, it is written in a readable style that will keep the
audience in suspense until the end.


Akenson, Donald H., “At Face Value: The Life and Times of Eliza McCormack/John White,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024,