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?

(1920)

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

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  • Harold McNeill

    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

    I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

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    January 5, 2020 |

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    […] During the Ice Age, the Earth’s average temperature was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it is today. That was enough to keep snow from melting during the summers in northern regions. As snow fell on the snow, glaciers formed. (NASA Earth Observatory) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories How to Game an Election - McNeill Life Stories

    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]