July / Canada150 – Votes for Women
Sometimes it hard to believe women have only had the legal right to vote (Suffrage) in political elections in Canada since the turn of the last century.
By the mid-19th century, full citizenship with the right to vote was limited to men. By the end of the century, laws across the country mandated near-universal, White male citizenship at the federal and provincial level and excluded female voters.
The Suffragist Movement
Suffragists — people who lobbied for the extension of suffrage — were mostly White, middle-class fashion women. They believed suffrage would increase their status and class, and result in a better country for all.
While they campaigned at every level of government for the vote, suffragists often put priority on local rights. By 1900, women who owned property had won some voting rights — including the right to vote and to run for office in some municipal council, library and school board elections. They next went on to win the right to vote in provincial elections. The first provincial victory occurred in Manitoba on 28 January 1916. In 1940, Québec was the last province to concede the vote.
We like to think their dedication and reasoning has truly made our country stronger.