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WOMEN WIN THE VOTE


DATES AND FACTS


1874
Woman's Christian Temperance Union founded in Ontario.

1887
Women property owners can vote in municipal elections in Manitoba.

1890
Women property owners can vote in school board elections in Manitoba.

1893
Manitoba's Woman's Christian Temperance Union presents a petition for female suffrage.

1894
Manitoba Equal Suffrage Club is founded.

1901
One in six Canadian workers is a woman.

February 13, 1907
Manitoba revokes women's municipal franchise.

January 28, 1914
The Women's Parliament is staged at the Walker Theatre.

1915
Political Equality League submits a petition to government for female suffrage.

January 28, 1916
Manitoba gives women the right to vote provincially.

May 24, 1918
Canadian women win the right to vote in federal elections.

OTHER RESOURCES


Liberation deferred? The ideas of the English-Canadian Suffragists by Carol Lee Bacchi.
Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1983

In times like these by Nellie L. McClung. Toronto: McLeod & Allen, c1915.

The woman suffrage movement in Canada by Catherine L. Cleverdon.
Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974.

MAPS


Manitoba 1926 [Rural Organizations]

Manitoba electoral maps1920


FOR EDUCATORS


Women win the vote
Page 4 of 6

Politics and corruption

The suffrage campaigners said that women were needed to clean up politics in Manitoba. To support this argument they could point to the rough-and-tumble manner in which political parties conducted themselves in Manitoba in the early twentieth century.

Each election was marred with accusations of corruption—at one point one party hired a private detective to spy on the leaders of the other parties. From 1900 to 1915, the master of the political scene in Manitoba was Conservative Premier Rodmond Roblin. A shrewd and capable leader, Roblin presided over one of the most successful, if at times corrupt, political machines in Manitoba's history. He fashioned an electoral coalition that included both the staunchly anti-Catholic Orange Order and the province's Roman Catholic voters. Rural voters were grateful to Roblin for his government's fight for improved rail service and the government-owned telephone and grain elevator system.

Roblin's decision to end voting restrictions on the voting rights of East Europeans, and to create a school to train Ukrainian-speaking public school teachers, won him the support of many recent immigrants. His demand that schools fly the Union Jack flag earned him the support of those Manitobans who traced their roots back to Great Britain.

These policies were accompanied by a brass-knuckle approach to political campaigns. In the 1910 provincial election it was reported that only seven of the nearly 90 candidates had not been called liars or crooks by their opponents. In an attempt to buy votes, alcohol was freely distributed on election day—another of the reasons why temperance campaigners wished to see alcohol banned. Civil servants were expected to help the Conservatives get out the vote on election days, and constituencies that did not vote for the winning party would be forced to do without new roads or improved government services until the next election.

Roblin resisted the temperance movement, pointing out that individual communities had the right to vote on whether they would allow the local sale of liquor. These local votes on whether to go “wet” or “dry” were often as fiercely fought as provincial elections. He was equally dismissive of proposals to grant women the vote.

Not surprisingly, a wide-ranging reform movement arose to challenge the Roblin government. Inspired by recent teachings of the Protestant churches, the reformers advocated temperance, women's suffrage, tax reform, an end to bilingual education, direct democracy through the use of referendums, and improved labour legislation. Through these political measures, the reformers sought to bring about a moral transformation of society.

Digital Resources on Manitoba History