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"I am strongly convinced . . . of the justice of giving women otherwise qualified the suffrage. I am strongly of that opinion, and have been for a good many years, and I had hoped that Canada would have the honor of first placing women in the position that she is certain eventually, after centuries of oppression, to obtain. It is merely a question of time all over the civilized world. . . I had hoped that we in Canada would have had the great honor of leading in the cause of securing the complete emancipation of women, of completely establishing her equality as a human being and a member of society with man. I say it is a mere matter of time."
Sir John A. Macdonald, Commons Debates, 27 April 1885, p. 1388.
"Canada should have the honour of first placing woman in the position that she is certain, after centuries of oppression, to obtain . . . of completely establishing her equality as a human being and as a member of society." [advocating the vote]
Sir John A. Macdonald, House of Commons, 27 April 1885
Nellie McClung, 1905-22, LAC Acc. No. 1966-094
Women who believe in woman suffrage seem to think that we men want to deprive them of their liberties; but we wish to do no such thing. All men who are worthy of the name of men, place woman upon a very high pedestal, to which no man in his sphere, could ever hope to attain: and we want her to remain there, where she can command our respect and esteem and use the powers that God has given her for the good of humanity . . . Why should she besmear herself with the rottenness of politics?
Letter to the editor, Toronto Globe, 1912
YOU MUSTN’T ASK TO VOTE
You may be our close companion
Share our troubles, ease our pain,
You may bear the servant’s burden
(But without the servant’s gain;)
You may scrub and cook and iron
Sew the buttons on our coat,
But as men we must protect you—
You are far too frail to vote.
You may toil behind our counters,
In our factories you may slave
You are welcome in the sweatshop
From the cradle to the grave.
If you err, altho’ a woman
You may dangle by the throat
But our chivalry is outraged
If you soil your hands to vote.
L. Case Russell, The Globe , Toronto, 28 September 1912
I am utterly opposed to women’s suffrage in every shape and form. I think too much of women to have her entangled in the mesh of politics. She would be stooping from the pedestal on which she has sat for centuries.
Premier Roblin, Canadian Annual Review , 1912.
THE WOMAN OF MEANS: "I am not interested in suffrage. I am happy and comfortable. I do not want a vote."
SUFFRAGIST: But do you care nothing for the oppressed and down-trodden? Do you not want to help the little children, the children who are crowding into our factories and filling our courts? Do you not want to help your fallen sisters? Do you not want to fight the growing power of commercialized vice? Do you not want to have better housing and purer food? Do you not want to combat the crime and ignorance and poverty which are surging about your door? All this can only be done effectively through the vote.
The Montreal Herald, 26 November 1913
"Without doubt the democracy of the twentieth century demands the wisdom, sympathy and insight of woman for its full development, and Canadian women cannot set themselves too soon to the solution of the problems now affecting the economic and social well-being of the Dominion. Most men are free to confess that they have made more or less of a botch of trying to run the government by themselves. We look for a new moral impetus, a saner outlook and wider human sympathy to enter into the settlement of our public questions with the advent of women into public affairs."
The Grain Grower’s Guide, Winnipeg, 4 February 1914
"I believe woman suffrage would be a retrograde movement, that it would break up the home, and that it would throw the children into the arms of the servant girl."
Sir Rodmond P. Roblin, The Manitoba Free Press ,28 June 1914
"I believe that woman suffrage would be a retrograde movement, that it will break up the home. . . The majority of women are emotional and very often guided by misdirected enthusiasms, and if possessed of the franchise would be a menace rather than an aid."
Sir Rodmond Roblin
"Nice women don't want the vote."
Sir Rodmond Roblin
"When I come home at night, I don't want a hyena in petticoats talking politics at me. I want a sweet, gentle creature to bring me my slippers."
Sir Rodmond Roblin
1944 Music Nurses
"No woman, idiot or criminal shall vote."
Nellie McClung, In Times Like These, 1915
[The Manitoba Elections Act passed in 1913 stated that "Every person shall be entitled to vote at the elections . . . if such person (a) is of the male sex." Patients in lunatic asylums and criminals were not allowed to vote.]
When…about 30% of the women of Canada are wage earners, it seems rather foolish to talk about women being protected from the battle of life. We are human, just like men. In reason and intellect, we claim neither superiority nor inferiority, hence our reasons for wanting the vote are just the same as men’s.
Mrs. Elizabeth Tuckey, Morning Albertan , Calgary, 1 March 1915.
Men alone are not capable of making laws for men and women. Laws are made from man’s standpoint. There is a law in this province whereby a man can sell all he has without the knowledge or consent of his wife, and can skip out, leaving her and her children without anything. There is a law by which a man can will away all his property and leave his wife nothing. There is a law by which a father is heir to his child’s property. Children have only one legal guardian, only one parent in the eyes of the law, and that parent is the father. Such laws as these are on the statute books, yet people will say that women should trust to man’s chivalry.
Nellie McClung, newspaper report, 20 May 1915
“Now you forget all this nonsense about women voting,” Premier Roblin [of Manitoba] went on in his suavest tones. “You’re a fine, smart woman, I can see that. And take it from me, nice women don’t want the vote.” His voice dripped fatness.
“By nice women,” I said, “you probably mean selfish women who have no more thought for the underpaid, overworked women than a pussycat in a sunny window has for the starving kitten in the street. Now in that sense I am not a nice woman, for I do care. I care about those factory women, working in ill-smelling holes, and we intend to do something about it, and when I say ‘we’ I’m talking for a great many women, of whom you will hear more as the days go on.”
Nellie McClung, The Stream Runs Fast , 1945.
Presentation of petition by the Political Equality League for the enfranchisement of women. Signed by 39,584 people. Archives of Manitoba/Archives du Manitoba, Events 173/3, N9905, 1915
Manufacture de la compagnie Northern Electric Co. Ltd. LAC Canada. Ministère de la défense nationale / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada / PA-024627, ca. 1916
Nursing Sisters at a Canadian Hospital voting in the Canadian federal election. Des infirmières militaires d'un hôpital canadien en train de voter aux élections fédérales canadiennes. LAC PA-002279, December 1917
Library and Archives Canada, C-4358, 1917
Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1984-4-917
21 September 1921
1921 Agnes MacPhail, Library and Archives Canada, C-006908
LAC Canadian Postal Corporation e000008203
LAC Canadian Postal Corporation 2000
Unveiling of a plaque commemorating the five Alberta women whose efforts resulted in the Persons Case, which established the rights of women to hold public office in Canada. LAC, C-054523NFB Eugene Finn 11 June 1938