The first woman in the British Empire to earn a doctoral degree in music did so from the University of Toronto in 1903.
Meet Eva J. Taylor.
According to the Conservatory Bi-Monthly 3, no. 6(November 1904), p180:
“This month the Bi-Monthly takes special pleasure in presenting a picture of Miss Eva J. Taylor, Mus. Doc, an account of whose exceptional achievements will be read with interest.
Miss Taylor began her Conservatory career in 1894,studying the piano with Dr. Fisher and theory with Dr. Anger. She graduated in both departments in 1897, took the degree of Mus. Bac. at Trinity University in 1898, and that of Mus.Doc. in 1903.
The Provost stated at Convocation that she was the only woman in the Empire who had won this highest musical degree, though two others had received the latter as an honor, Queen Alexandra, whose portrait in her Musical Doctor robes is said to be her most popular one, and Dr. Annie Patterson, an organist in Dublin.
Miss Taylor was organist of St. James’ Church, Guelph, for five years, and is now director of St. George’s Church Choir, a surpliced organization of forty-five members. She finds teaching very interesting and has a large class of pupils. Doubtless she will gain further distinction in the realm of composition.”
This degree, of course, predates the official establishment of the Faculty of Music, but this is important in acknowledging the role of music at U of T at Trinity University and Victoria University.
Additional information online about Dr. Taylor is scarce. We do know she became known as Dr. Nurse a decade after receiving her degree.
From The Greater Vancouver Chinook, June 28, 1913, p10:“The wedding took place in St. Michael’s Church last Wednesday of Miss Eva J. Taylor, Mus. Doc., daughter of Mr. and Mrs. S. J.Taylor, to Rev. Oscar nurse, M.A., rector of St. Luke’s Church, South Vancouver. Rev. G. H. Wilson officiated, and there were a large number of friends present. After the ceremony, Mr. and Mrs. Nurse left on a honeymoon to Victoria and Alaska, and on their return they will reside in South Vancouver.”
There may be more information available about her and her career, but additional research is needed. At some point she and her husband moved to the United States as we found a note in a newsletter that Dr. Eva Nurse was an accompanist for a singer at a church service at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, California in 1946.