Martha Elliott (nee Ireton) was born in Collingwood Township, County Grey, Ontario. She began teaching school at age 15. In 1890, she journeyed to Manitoba where she took a teacher training course in Brandon and taught in rural Manitoba. In 1894, she was married to James Elliott and settled on a farm in the Totonka district.
During the First World War, Elliott organized three branches of the Red Cross Society — at Totonka, Moline and Cardale. Around this same time, she became an enthusiastic member of the United Farm Women of Manitoba. When the UFWM was organized provincially in 1918, Elliott was elected to the board and was placed in charge of young people’s work. Elliott was also a much sought after speaker. Her magnificent platform personality made her well known to many. In her speeches, Elliott had a flare for attacking the weak spots, especially concerning the plight of the farm woman. Issues that were of major concern to her included the raising of large families without adequate medical and nursing facilities; also women shouldered the responsibility of garden, poultry and dairy in order to buy food for the family, yet they sold their produce non cooperatively; and although the woman was her husband’s working partner, the laws denied the woman an equal share in the homestead.
In 1923, the UFWM elected Elliott provincial president. Under her leadership, rural women’s clubs multiplied. Elliott channelled all of her energies into working for the community and the province. The success of her service to Manitoba lies in the modern farm homes equipped with labour-saving devices and equality of women and men in the eyes of the law.