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

Gunjan Chaudhary
Gunjan Chaudhary Politics
14 Min Read

Every country has its own jurisdiction over 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?

1. When Could Women Vote In Canada

In the 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, then the women of Canada got the right to vote in the year 1884. These rights were given to widows who owned property and spinsters in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. 

woman vote campaign approval gesture
Source: Freepik

In 1886, the voting right was given to all 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.

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.

2. Begining Of  Voting Rights For 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. The right to vote, which is a fundamental right for the citizens of a country, is not given to every citizen.

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 wanted to bring the women on par with the men of the society. The demand for “women’s right to vote” 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. Dr. Emily Stowe was interested in all matters relating to women. At once, she became the first woman, before the public to lecture on topics then somewhat new, “Woman’s Sphere” and “Women in the Professions,” being her subjects.

Dr. Emily Stowe lectured not only in Toronto but also under the auspices of various Mechanics’ Institutes in Ottawa, Whitby, and Bradford. 

4. Formation Of Toronto Women’s Literary Club

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.

peaceful protest group activism
Source: Freepik

5. Canadian Woman’s Suffrage Society

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 favor of giving women voting rights.

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.

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 were 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.

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.

peaceful demonstration city streets
Source: Freepik

8. Woman’s Medical College In Toronto

In the 1880s itself, the Woman’s Medical College in Toronto was opened which 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 and it was deemed expedient to open a Women’s Medical College in Toronto. In this Women’s Medical College, Gullen was appointed Demonstrator in Anatomy.

9. REO-ORGANIZING SUFFRAGE ASSOCIATION

The lecture that was organized on the question of women being considered was a great success.

In December 1889, the lecture was taken by Susan B. Anthony in the Woman’s Medical College auditorium.

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 that 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.

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 color 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.

The Dominion Woman’s Enfranchisement Association became duly incorporated into the association.

confident doctor ok gesture
Source: Freepik

Voting Rights To Manitoba Women

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.

“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 endeavors 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.

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 people began immigrating to Canada.

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.  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.

voting process ballot
Source: Freepik

13. Canada Election Act

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. 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, to any children that she may bear.

After Indigenous peoples were removed from coverage of the Indian Act and were enfranchised, they were granted rights identical to those 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 after putting in a lot of effort for gaining women’s rights in upcoming provincial and federal elections.

To learn more about popular Nations women or First Nations women, canadian women’s history in terms of provincial elections, or the Grant Women Get Along with voting rights, reach out to british columbia or Toronto women’s Suffrage Association, Manitoba political equality league, or woman’s christian temperance union.

Last Updated on by Narayani Bhardwaj

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3 Comments
  • The article effectively communicates the persistent efforts made by women and various organizations to secure voting rights. It’s notable that the timeline spans decades, reflecting the prolonged and arduous nature of the struggle. The legislative changes and amendments, such as the Dominion Elections Act and the Canada Election Act, are explained in a way that makes the complex history accessible to readers.

  • “Fascinating insights into the history of women’s voting rights in Canada! It’s essential to reflect on the progress made and the struggles faced. This article provides a valuable overview, shedding light on a pivotal aspect of Canadian history. Understanding our journey toward equality is crucial for shaping a more inclusive future. ️ #WomensRights #CanadianHistory”

  • . It’s notable that the timeline spans decades, reflecting the prolonged and arduous nature of the struggle.”Fascinating insights into the history of women’s voting rights in Canada! It’s essential to reflect on the progress made and the struggles faced. This article provides a valuable overview, shedding light on a pivotal aspect of Canadian history. Understanding our journey toward equality is crucial for shaping a more inclusive future.

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