Securing The Vote for Women
January 28, 1916
It may be hard to believe, but it is true: Women have never had the right
to vote in Canada.
The men in control of the country perceived women as a "weaker sex"
needing protection and guidance. Some believed allowing women to vote
would only unsettle them and lead to family discord.
Times are about to change. A generation of women - led by dynamos like
Nellie McClung, Emily Murphy, Ada Powers, Josephine Dandurand and Elizabeth
Smith Shortt -have lobbied, cajoled, heckled, and ridiculed politicians
for denying them their rights. They collected petitions, held rallies,
and fought to have their voices heard.
In 1916, one government finally listens. Manitoba amends its Election
Act granting women the right to vote. Soon after WWI, white women
over the age of 21 have the vote federally, and in all provinces except
Prince Edward Island (1922) and Québec (1940).
Women in the suffrage movement tended to represent the upper classes
of society. They argued that women were morally superior to men because
of their roles as wives and mothers. Believeing themselves superior, these
women viewed themselves as " housekeepers for the nation". Many
suffragettes believed that gaining the vote would help women keep Canada
committed to Protestant morality and family values. Does this take away
from their achievements? Probably not. It's often problematic to impose
21st Century morality on early 20th Century society.
Want To Know More?
An Act to amend the Manitoba Election Act, S.M. 1917 c. 28