In 1898, Martha Purdy turned her back on a suffocating marriage and life of social privilege in Chicago. She headed North, staggering across the Chilkoot Pass while pregnant. She went on to operate a sawmill in Dawson City and married lawyer and politician, George Black. When George became the Commissioner of the Yukon, Martha travelled with him overseas to help in the war effort in London during World War I.
Upon returning, Martha took on the duties of wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons in Ottawa. In 1935 she assumed her husband's seat in Parliament when he was too ill to run for re-election.
Martha Black became known
as an expert on Yukon flora and gave extensive lectures about the beauty
and history of the territory. She died in Whitehorse at the age of 91
and is remembered and loved across the Yukon.