Elizabeth Bagshaw was born on a farm in Mariposa Township, Victoria County, Ontario, she attended Lindsay Collegiate before enrolling in the Women’s Medical College (now Women’s College Hospital) in Toronto in 1901. Since the College was unable to grant degrees, she received her degree from the University of Toronto.
In 1906, she moved to Hamilton, Ontario where she set up a medical practice. From 1932 until 1966, she was the medical director of Canada’s first birth control clinic. She retired at the age of 95 in 1976 and was the oldest practicing physician in Canada at the time.
In 1970, she was awarded Hamilton’s Citizen of the Year. In 1972, she was made a Member of the Order of Canada. In 1978, the National Film Board of Canada produced a film about her called Doctor Woman: The Life and Times of Dr. Elizabeth Bagshaw. In 1979, she was one of the first seven women to receive the Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case “to recognize outstanding contributions to the quality of life of women in Canada”. In 2007, she was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. Elizabeth Bagshaw Elementary School in Hamilton is named in her honour as is the Elizabeth Bagshaw Women’s Clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia.