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?

(1540)

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    […] If you happen to support Bill C-51, a bill that is related solely to ‘terrorism’ and, perhaps, support an even more invasive laws being included, what would you think about the entire Bill (present and proposed) being folded back into the Criminal Code and made applicable to every Canadian?  Would that give our police to much power to simply bypass checks and balances developed over the past 150 years. (Oversight) […]

  • Maurice Smook

    August 13, 2016 |

    Hi Jillian,

    I don’t know if you are still checking this site but I had to respond again. February of 2017 it will be 72 years since this battle occurred.

    What caught my attention about this incident was on the Go Deep Documentary that aired on the History Channel. First of all I never known that this battle having ever occurred.

    According to my grade 3 teacher WW2 had never occurred. That grade 3 teacher stated that the WW2 and the holocaust was all propaganda. All of my classmates they believed her. I hate to say this but all I knew was that soldiers shooting at each other.

    I almost was expelled from school. My

    Mom my Dad my brother and my Uncle would have been arrested for propaganda. I paid the price. It was ironic a grade 5 teacher told me that Smooks are all commies. Dad was Conservative.

    All the Smooks that I known are all Conservative. If I had the money I would have loved to sue those two teachers.

    As I said I never heard of this Battle. If it were not for that program I would have never had known.

    I started to do more researching to find out more about the history of this battle. The narrator of Go Deep mentioned the names of the pilots who died that battle.

    I missed 20 minutes of that program but the camera crew had the camera’s pointed towards the sign with the names of the deceits. That is how I known.

    According to the narrator There are three who are still missing. W.J. Jackson, Harry Smook and A. Duckworth. A couple of months ago the staff of Go Deep have located Harry and A. Duckworths aircraft. This is on you tube. Harry and A. Duckworth craft is approx 650 feet deep in the Fjord. The individual who is heading this expansionary mission made it known he will not rest until all three of the missing pilots
    will be retrieved. I am sure that A. Duckworth’s kin are hoping for the same.

    What really puzzles me is that I have sent emails to the Smooks. Not one ever replying. I presume its the same with you. Sad. Dad rarely spoke about his family. It appears there is a big secret of the Smooks. I too assume Harry is a kin to my Dad. Harry maybe a 4th 5th cousin to my Dad. I too would like to know. Harry and A. Duckworth served and died for our country. The other is W.j. Jackson – who is also still missing – having died for our Country.

    In conclusion I still ask myself why is this a huge secret.

    If you are still checking this site please contact me. Maybe we may be kin.

    Take care.

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  • Valerie Heuman (Roddick)

    June 19, 2016 |

    Having just returned to the Okanagan Valley from a weekend in Pibroch, I am delighted to have stumbled on your blog to see the picture of the main street. My aunt and uncle Peggy & Gordon McGillvery owned and lived in the old Post Office on the North east corner of the main intersection and my brother Adrian currently lives south a bit backing on the School yard. We are Sheila’s cousins and still have a close connection to the town.

  • Sheila(Roddick) Allison

    May 19, 2016 |

    Hi. So fun to find your blog. I remember going to school with you and Louise. I loved my childhood in Pibroch which incidentally was named by my grandfather Aaron Roddick. I will never forget the night the garage burned down. Nice to see the landmark photo before the big fire!

  • George Dahl

    April 12, 2016 |

    What a great site. I’m trying to locate a woman named Sally Jennifer who was from the Cold Lake area back in the early sixties. I met her when I was stationed at Namao air base in Edmonton. I was serving with the USAF 3955 air refueling squadron from rhe fall 1963 till the spring of 64. Sally was 22 at the time I was 21. Sally was my first love. I had orders to ship out to South East Asia and we lost contact after that.
    If any of you know the where abouts of Sally I would like to get reacquainted with her. She is First Nation, Blackfoot I believe. She is Catholic and may have attended a Catholic school in Cold Lake.
    Thank You in advance, George Dahl

  • dave armit

    March 23, 2016 |

    good old fashioned police work done by good old fashioned policemen……….in regards to mr cain..i learned a few years ago that he was born on the same day in the same hospital that i was..my father was a close friend of the cain family…!!! interesting..d a

  • Joyce McMenamon

    March 1, 2016 |

    Haha, love it! We should probably eat rats and rabbits rather than beef. Also I’ve noticed that there are a lot less pests where dogs are not kept on leashes.

  • Kari

    February 27, 2016 |

    Thanks for a wonderful trip down memory lane Dad!!! That was an amazing trip and I am so glad that we had the opportunity to share that experience together!
    ❤️