Canadian Women and the Vote

Women’s Suffrage began a significant amount of time before the right to vote was given to women. It began around 1876 after Emily Stowe returned to Canada after obtaining a medical degree in the United States of America. She was known as the first female physician in Canada, and lectured in Toronto about women’s ability in the workplace and beyond. This was the birth of women’s suffrage in Canada, and inspired women to form a movement for equal rights. Emily Stowe passed away before any women were given the right to vote.


The First World War played a significant role in women’s right to vote in Canada. As men fought overseas, women filled roles traditionally filled by men, which provided leverage. Clearly women were able to do many of the things typically done by men, and could not be ignored any longer. Women began voting in 1916.


1916: The four western provinces permitted women to vote in provincial elections. The first province to allow this was Manitoba. For several years after, other provinces would follow the lead of the western provinces. Quebec took considerably longer to give women the right to vote provincially.


1917: Women serving their country through the military effort as nurses or services members were granted the right to vote. Soon after, women with husbands or sons in the military were also permitted to vote.


1918: The law finally allowed all black and white women the right to vote federally, although the legislation did not pass into effect until January 1, 1919.

1921: Agnes MacPhail becomes the first woman elected to the House of Commons.


1929: The Persons case was decided by the Privy Council of Great Britain. Women were finally included in the definition of “person”, which enabled them to take positions in the senate.


1940: The last province to permit women to vote provincially was Quebec, which finally allowed this in 1940.

1948: Women and men of Asian descent were given the right to vote federally after the end of the Second World War.


1950: Inuit women and men were permitted the federal vote.


1960: First Nations women and men were permitted to vote federally without having to surrender their treaty rights.

Jesse Kendall