Women’s Suffrage in Canada

Written by Harold McNeill on January 24th, 2016. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Womans Suffrage in BC

Women’ Suffrage in British Columbia
(Jan 2018 1300)

The Long Slow Climb

Over the past few years, considerable attention is given to the lack of women’s rights within many religious orders, with Muslims taking the brunt of the heat over the past fifteen years.  Yet, we only need to go back fifty or sixty years to see the fight for basic women’s rights, including the right to vote, was an ongoing battle in many parts of Canada.

It was not until the 1940’s that the women of Quebec were able to overcome a church dominated political system and gained that right too vote.  Other rights would slowly be gained over the subsequent decades (e.g.  removal of abortion and prostitution from the criminal code, equal rights within marriage, right to enter drinking establishments, and the list goes on), rights that today we take for granted.

It took until 2015 for women to be fully represented in ministerial positions within the Federal government and only in recent decades have we seen more women elected to lead Provinces. It’s no real surprise to anyone, that these women were and are powerful leaders. The United States has yet to break that barrier, but there is no doubt it will happen one day soon.

Over the nearly 150 years since our Confederation, these were big steps as it was just over 100 years ago that not one woman in Canada had the right to vote or hold legislative or parliamentary office. It’s hard to imagine it was only in 1916 that the legislative and parliamentary house of cards controlled exclusively by men, began to crumble when the women of Manitoba achieved the right. The right soon flowed across Canada as outlined in the following timeline.

1916 Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta

1917 British Columbia and Ontario

1918 Nova Scotia and, as well, across Canada in the Federal system

1919 New Brunswick and Yukon

1922 Prince Edward Island

1925 Newfoundland and Labrador

1940 Quebec  (Quebec was still largely controlled by the Catholic Church – Italian women only gained the right in 1945)

1951 Northwest Territories

1962 Status Rights for Aboriginal Women

For a list of that right be acquired in other countries Link Here

The black areas of the “suffrage map” of North America show the Provinces and States in North and Central America that were still “working” on achieving full suffrage for women as late as the 1940’s (Quebec) and 50’s. Area’s in white had largely achieved full suffrage by the 1920’s.

Canada and US Sufferage Map 1920

As recent as the 1950s, when I was a teenager, women were prohibited from entering bars in Saskatchewan.  Mom, Louise and I used to wait for hours in the lobby while dad partied with his male friends in the beer parlour. Women dared no enter and chid her husband for taking to long.

While the changes over the early part of the last century were seismic, the distance to be travelled was still great, as many women had yet to achieve sexual and workplace equality. Many were (and still are) being abused in the most unseemly ways in the workplace where the power of men holds sway.  One day that house of cards will also begin to crumble and many men will be held accountable for their misdeeds.

During my years as a police officer (1964 – 1994) women were just gaining a foothold in the military, police, fire department, and similar emergency service organizations. It was a tough battle as the ‘old boys network’ conspired at every turn to thwart their advancement and a place where sexual opportunists, did not shy away from taking advantage whenever and wherever the opportunity arose. During those times, it was career death women who complained and even when they did, their complaints most often fell on deaf ears.

Following are a few photos and cartoons depicting an earlier era.

1950 statement: “The next thing you know, women will want to play hockey! That’s not possible as it’s far too dangerous for their fragile bodies.”  2014: Team Canada heads to the Olympics. Across the spectrum, women’s team sports, women have gained a tremendous degree of respect on the world stage.

1950’s Do it Yourself Booklet
Watch the NetFlix series “Ad Men” to get a real sample of what it was like
for many women back in the 1950’s. The following booklet was not that far off the mark in many households.

Train Your Wife

I still think “O Canada” needs a slight word change that embraces gender equality. It may seem to some like the word “son” is of small import, but what is wrong with us?

(2026)

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Comments

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    November 29, 2021 |

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  • Сериалы 2021 zhd.life

    November 29, 2021 |

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    McNeill Life Stories Royal Oak Community Gardens – McNeill Life Stories

  • фильмы 2022 года

    November 28, 2021 |

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  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read your life account of Pibroch excellent.
    My family mowed to Pibroch in 1942 Dad was grain buyer for Searle Grain Company lived in town for 5 years than mowed one mile East to the farm on the corner of the road from Pibroch and Hwy 44. Bro Don still lives there.I went to school with both you and Louise.