When Could Women Vote In Canada? 13 Interesting Facts That Will Amaze You!!

Every country has its own jurisdiction for its citizens. Similarly, the demographics of women also vary in every country, and does time when they could vote in every country is also different. Now the question arises, When would women vote in Canada?

In Canada, the rights of women to vote began in the three prairie provinces. In 1916, voting right was earned by women living in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. In 1917, the federal government granted limited war-time suffrage to some women under War Time Elections Act. Later, in 1918 they provided full suffrage to women in Canada. Some women in Lower Canada who met the requirements became the only women in the British Empire to exercise that right. Let us know in detail, “When would women vote in Canada?”

1. When Could Women Vote In Canada

By the end of 1922, all the Canadian provinces, except Quebec, granted full suffrage to all the White and Black women out there. Whereas, in Newfoundland and Labrador House, women got voting rights in 1925. The most shocking thing is that the women of Quebec didn’t gain full suffrage until 1940.

If we talk about Municipal voting rights, when would women vote in Canada, then the women of Canada got voting rights in the year 1884. These rights were given to widows who own property and spinsters in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. While married and unmarried women who owned property in BC, British Columbia were allowed to vote in municipal elections but not to hold office.

In 1886, the voting right was given to all the property-owning women except those whose husbands were already voters. In 1886, the rights were given to the widows who owned property and to spinsters in Nova Scotia. And in 1888, to the widows who own property and spinsters of Prince Edward Island.

when would women vote in canada
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However, the women and men who belonged to Asia were not granted suffrage even after World War II. Talking about the Inuit women and men, they were not granted voting rights until 1950. In the year 1960, suffrage in the Federal election Canada was extended to First Nations women and men without requiring them to give up their treaty status. Even Japanese Canadians who had fought for Canada in the First World War were not allowed to vote in National Election.

And those Incarcerated men and women serving sentences fewer than two years in length were granted voting rights in 1993, and incarcerated women and men serving longer sentences than two years were given voting rights in the year 2002.

2. Begining Of  Voting Rights To Women In Canada

It is quite true that we have to fight for our women’s equality rights because no one willingly gives us the things we deserve. For years, women have been struggling really hard to earn their rights and similarly, women were waiting to get the answer that when would women vote in Canada. The right to vote, which is a fundamental right for the citizens of a country, is not given to every citizen. And the story about “When would women vote in Canada” is exciting.

The right to vote was originally gender-based, as only men could vote, which caused the demand by the women and that section of the society that wants to bring the women on par with the men of the society. The demand for “when would women vote in Canada” began in the year 1876 when Dr. Emily Stowe came to Toronto.

3. Role Of Dr. Emily Stowe

Dr. Emily Stowe was the first and sole woman physician in Canada, and she was really curious to know “when would women vote in Canada.” Dr. Emily Stowe was interested in all matters relating to women. At once, she came the first woman, before the public as a lecturer upon topics then somewhat new, “Woman’s Sphere” and “Women in the Professions,” being her subjects.

when would women vote in Canada
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Dr. Emily Stowe lectured not only in Toronto but also under the auspices of various Mechanics’ Institutes in Ottawa, Whitby, and Bradford. In 1877, after attending a meeting of the American Society for the Advancement of Women in Cleveland and meeting many women of the United States, Emily Stowe, on returning home, felt the need for some similar union among Canadian women.

4. Formation Of Toronto Women’s Literary Club

Later discussing this important thing on “when would women vote in Canada” with her friend, Helen Archibald, they decided that it would not be politic to attempt a suffrage association at once. In November 1877, they organized a body that began to be known as “The Toronto Women’s Literary Club.”

In the beginning, women with voting rights were typically middle-class White women. These women advocated for women’s right to vote for the sole purpose of boosting their social status resulting in a better society. However, they got the support of Black abolitionists, unionists, socialists, and temperance activists.

5. Canadian Woman’s Suffrage Society

In 1883, people started feeling that now public sentiment had sufficiently progressed to warrant the formation of a regular Woman-Suffrage Society, and they wanted to know “when would women vote in Canada.” And therefore, on February 1, 1883, the club met and decided to form the Toronto Woman’s Literary Club. It then disbanded to form a Canadian Women’s Suffrage Association with the aim of fostering a general and living public sentiment in favour of giving women voting rights.

In the next month, on March 5, at a meeting of the City Council, the Toronto Women’s Literary and Social Progress Club requested the use of the Council Chambers on March 9. Their purpose was to organize a meeting having a conversation to discuss the advisability of granting the franchise to those women who possessed the property qualification.

when would women vote in Canada
By Johnny Silvercloud/ Flickr Copyright 2022

6. Canadian Women Suffrage Association

The Canadian Woman Suffrage Association was formally inaugurated, with 40 people enrolled as members of the Suffrage Association that evening. The first thing the association undertook for work purposes was to secure the municipal franchise for the women of Ontario.

On September 10, 1883, a committee was appointed in order to urge the City Council to petition the Local Government to pass a bill that conferred the municipal franchise upon women as the question of when would women vote in Canada.

The committee that was formed to urge the City Council consisted of Stowe, McEwen, Mrs. Hamilton, Mrs. Miller, Mrs. Mackenzie, and Mrs. Curzon, with the power to add others. The committee waited upon Honorable Oliver Mowat, who was then the Premier of the Province of Ontario.

However, it was agreed that it was not right to criticize the franchise bill before the House, based on the principle of ‘half a loaf being better than no bread.’ After this, objections were set aside, and every woman worked towards securing this partial reform; even if they were married, she would not directly benefit from it.

7. Women’s Suffrage In The 1880s

The Ontario Municipal Act was amended in 1882 to give most women who are married, widows, and spinsters voting rights by implementing laws for them if they possessed the necessary qualifications. Finally, they had been permitted, or I would say they were given rights for some minor municipal matters.

when would women vote in canada
By Jinx McCombs/ Flickr Copyright 2022

Then in 1884, the Ontario Municipal Act was further amended by extending the right to vote in municipal elections on all matters to widows and unmarried women. In Toronto municipal elections that were held on January 4, 1886, women’s votes were crucial and resulted in the election of a candidate pledged to reform, William Homes Howland.

8. Woman’s Medical College In Toronto

In the 1880s itself, the Woman’s Medical College in Toronto was opened that was directly or indirectly a result of the Suffrage Association. Stowe, along with her friend, Jennie Kidd Trout in the 1870s, forced her way into a season’s lectures on chemistry in the Toronto School of Medicine.

In 1879, she intimated her intention of entering her daughter, Augusta Stowe Gullen, as a medical student. Dr. Augusta Stowe Gullen was awarded her degree of Medicinæ Doctorem et Chirurgiæ Magistrum in 1883, and she became the first woman to be awarded such a degree under Canadian institutions.

As a consequence of the persistence of Stowe and her daughter, other women also started being aware of the possibilities in the medical profession. And therefore, numerous applications for admission were made that it was deemed expedient to open a Woman’s Medical College in Toronto. In this Woman’s Medical College, Gullen was appointed Demonstrator in Anatomy.

when would women vote in canada
By Alisdare Hickson/ Flickr Copyright 2022


The lecture that was organized on the question of women being considered was a great success. It created so much interest in the matter that the old suffrage association, which had been practically non-existent for several seasons, was re-organized, with Stowe as president and Mrs. Curzon as secretary of the association. But, still, they didn’t know “when would women vote in Canada.”

In December 1889, the lecture was taken by Susan B. Anthony in the Woman’s Medical College auditorium. And she succeeded in increasing the interest of people in suffrage work until it spread from the women of Toronto to those of surrounding towns, with new groups organizing in many places.

After this, the association had a lecture by Mary Seymour Howell of Albany, New York. Mrs. McDonell, ever indefatigable in her zeal for women, accompanied Mary Seymour Howell to many towns throughout Ontario to stimulate suffrage clubs that were already in existence and form others.

10. Women’s Suffrage In The 1890s

Dominion of Woman’s Enfranchisement Convention

In early 1890, a Dominion Woman’s Enfranchisement Convention was duly announced to be held in Association Hall, Toronto, June 12–13, 1890. Delegates were called from the various Suffrage Clubs then existed. Apart from this, there were representatives from American Clubs. These representatives included: Dr. Hannah A. Kimball, Chicago; Rev. Anna Shaw; Mrs. Isabella Hooker; and Mrs. McLellan Brown, president of Cincinnati College.

when would women vote in canada
By Darren Ryan/ Flickr Copyright 2022

The papers that elicited the attention of people were: “The Ballot, its Relation to Economics,” “Woman as Wage-Earner,” and “Woman in the Medical Profession.” Yellow, the colour of gold and the symbol of wisdom in the East, became the badge of equal suffragists all over the continent. Therefore it was used for decorations at all meetings of the hall.

Mottoes that were used in these associations or meetings based on “when would women vote in Canada were,” “Canada’s Daughters Should Be Free,” “No Sex in Citizenship,” “Women are half the People,” and “Woman, Man’s Equal.” The Dominion Woman’s Enfranchisement Association became duly incorporated in the association now in order to get the answer, when would women vote in Canada.

Toronto Women’s Suffrage Association

In 1890, in order to get the Equal-Suffragists, Mayor Edward Frederick Clarke and Toronto City Council determined to invite the Association for the Advancement of Women to hold its 18th annual Congress in Toronto. Women members who attended and contributed to this council were: Julia Ward Howe, who was author and litterateur, the friend and associate of Emerson, Longfellow, and Holmes; Mary F. Eastman, who was one of the leading New England educationists.

Apart from them Alice Stone Blackwell, the editor of the Woman’s Journal, and the daughter of Lucy Stone; Clara Berwick Colby, the editor of the Woman’s Tribune in Beatrice, Nebraska, in 1883; Florence E. Kalloch, of Chicago; Mrs. Kate Tannatt Woods the journalist and writer were also invited.

when would women vote in Canada
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Voting Rights To Manitoba Women

In 1895, Dr. Amelia Yeomans indicated that the women of the W.C.T.U. were the first women to espouse equal suffrage in Manitoba, having twice brought largely signed petitions before the Provincial Legislature. As early as 1872, the statutes in British Columbia were written to give married women the right to vote.

In 1912, Nellie McClung founded the Political Equality League in Manitoba, which advocates for a woman’s right to vote.

Quebec Women’s Movement

In Québec women’s movement began, and women for many years had exercised the municipal franchise by 1885. At that time, it was believed that a woman would be polluted by entering a polling booth. It was customary for a notary to call upon the Quebec women in their homes, where they would, in his presence, record women’s vote without leaving their chair.

Women’s Suffrage In Prince Edward Island

The only province in Canada where there was no legislation regarding woman suffrage was Prince Edward Island. In 1892, amidst deliberations over the “Bill respecting the Legislature” (popularly known as the “Amalgamation Bill”) in 31st Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, Neil McLeod, Leader of the Opposition, attempted to extend provincial suffrage to unmarried women too.

when would women vote in Canada
By Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County/ Flickr Copyright 2022

Neil McLeod prefaced his motion for an amendment to Section 52 of the bill by asking whether “a femme sole [is] a British subject, who has any one of the qualifications contained in any sub-sections.”

“Leader of the Government” and chair of the Liberal Party, Frederick Peters, conjectured that the amendment was “simply introduced to gain a little cheap popularity. However, he failed to receive this from the male portion of the country, and he now strikes out in another line and endeavours to get a little from the females.”

11. Women’s Suffrage Movement

The events that were listed previously regarding women’s suffrage were only in accordance with White women’s suffrage. Slavery in Canada meant that Black persons were legally not considered human. They were not considered people. Black people did not possess the rights and freedoms granted to citizens, such as democratic participation. Therefore the question, “when would women vote in Canada” was the biggest one.

when would women vote in canada
By Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County/ Flickr Copyright 2022

Black people were then granted rights as British subjects as slavery was gradually abolished from 1793-1834 from Canada. Like British subjects, now Black people were also entitled to civil rights, but this was extended only to property-owning men, as a gender barrier still existed for all women.

Manitoba, by Manitoba Election Act, became the first province to grant the right to vote to women, and these rights were not only for White women but for Black women too. On September 20, 1917, the controversial Wartime Elections Act was passed that granted the federal vote to women associated with the armed forces.

In 1918, the government granted the right to vote to many Canadian women who were 21 years of age and older were allowed to vote in the National Election that took place in 1921. Women in 1919 gained the right to be Members of Parliament. The right to vote still had not been granted to women belonging to Asia and the Indigenous citizen.

12. Dominion Election Act

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Asian peoples began immigrating to Canada. But then, they were denied the right to vote in both provincial and federal elections. Canadians of Asian culture were denied the right to vote. In 1920, the federal government passed Dominion Elections Act.

when would women vote in canada
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According to the act, the provinces could not discriminate against people based on differences in ethnicity in provincial elections, but this still excluded Canadians of Asian heritage, meaning they were still denied the right to vote. The Dominion Elections Act was rescinded in 1948 and came into effect in 1949. But, the disenfranchisement of Canadians who went from Asia was finally put to an end after World War II.

In 1920, to allow the involuntary enfranchisement for Indigenous men, the Indian Act was amended. But at that time, only certain Indigenous men were deemed worthy for enfranchisement. However, there was a poor response to this amendment that resulted in objections from Indigenous communities. Because of this, the amendment was repealed, and voluntary enfranchisement was introduced.

13. Canada Election Act

In 1960, the Canada Elections Act was established by the Parliament that granted all registered “Indians” the right to vote. The intention behind the legislation was, firstly, the first factor was that the Canadian government did not want to mirror the actions of the American government in denying African-Americans the right to vote. The second was the newly introduced Canadian Bill of Rights made reference to non-discrimination. And the last one was a step that was seen towards decolonization and increased autonomy for Indigenous communities.

Until 1985, a First Nations woman marrying a non-First Nations man was automatically enfranchised, similarly any children that she may bear. Prior to 1985, according to it, the child of women from First Nations would lose their official “Indian” status, including the rights to live on a First Nations reserve, although First Nations men did not lose their status. After Indigenous peoples were removed from coverage of the Indian Act and were enfranchised, they were granted rights identical to that of other Canadian citizens. And now, both Asian and indigenous women could vote.

So, this was the whole story of how women got voting rights in Canada and when would women vote in Canada after putting in a lot of effort for gaining their rights.

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