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Women's Issues — Condition sociale féminine

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"'Women,' added he [Matonabbee, Hearne's Chipewyun guide], 'were made for labour; one of them can carry, or haul, as much as two men can do. They also pitch our tents, make and mend our clothing, keep us warm at night; and, in fact, there is no such thing as travelling any considerable distance, or for any length of time, in this country, without their assistance. Women', said he again, 'though they do every thing, are maintained at trifling expense; for as they always stand cook, the very licking of their fingers in scarce times, is sufficient for their subsistence.'"
                                                                                   Samuel Hearne, Oct. 1770

"Girls should be educated to fit them for the sphere of life for which they are destined– that of the homemaker."
                                                                             Adelaide Hoodless, 1897

1898 LAC National Council of Women Ottawa a028033


1.  One little girl, fair as a pearl,
    Worked every day in a laundry
    All that she made, for food she paid,
    So she slept on a park bench so soundly.
    An old procuress spied her there
    And whispered softly in her ear:


2.  Same little girl, no more a pearl,
    Walks all alone by the river,
    Five years have flown, her health is gone,
    She would look at the water and shiver.
    Whene'er she'd stop to rest and sleep
    She'd hear a voice call from the deep:

3.  Girls in this way fall everyday
    And have been falling for ages.
    Who is to blame? You know his name
    He's the boss who pays starvation wages.
    A homeless girl can always hear
    Temptations calling everywhere.

Joe Hill, "The White Slave", Industrial Worker "Little Red Songbook", 6 March 1913.

"John Tightwad, bachelor, in Saskatchewan . . . promised Jennie Armstrong to endow her with all his worldly good. The fact they consisted of one homestead, a little cold, leaky-roofed shack, a yoke of oxen, and some machinery with chattel mortgages against it, did no dim the splendor of the promise in Jennie's eyes."

"The first year of her married life Jennie Tightwad found that what she had looked upon in the past as hard labor had been luxurious leisure compared with her present employment. She worked early and late, helping John in the fields when her work was done in the house. . . That fall, thru their combined efforts, they cleared off a large part of the debt on the hired machinery. Jennie had saved her husband the salary of a hired man . . . She was not offered any of the crop returns nor was she consulted upon the disposition of them."

"Fifteen years drifted along and at the end of that time John Tightwd owned two sections of land, clear, many head of stock, a splendid barn, a fair sized house and six children. All that Jennie owned of this was her rather dowdy wardrobe. She hadn't even a legal share in the children. When she wanted money she had to beg John to let her have it and there was always a scene and a wrangle."

"Rumors began to reach Jennie of John's attentions to a certain pretty window who had taken up residence in the district. . . John disappeared with the window after having sold his farm, stock, house and furniture . . . He was safely out of reach, and now the law which, during her residence with her husband refused her any claim on the children, suddenly changed its tactics and demanded that she support them, after they were turned off the homestead."

Women war workers at the Northern Electric Co. Ltd. Factory, Montreal, 1916, LAC PA-024627

La victoire en chantant :  revue in 20 acts. LAC, Acc. No. 1983-28-4042, Edouard Bernard, 1914-1918

Russian propaganda poster, 1920. The woman is pointing towards a library, a cafeteria, a workers club, an adult education centre and a day care facility.

"Few women are enrolled among the makers of Canada. Yet in all save the earliest years they have formed nearly half the population and have done almost half the work. But historians and businessmen tell us little of the part they have played. The woman's stage was set not in the limelight but in the firelight."
                                                              Isabel Skelton, The Backwoodsman, 1924


"To have part of life can never be enough, one must have all. That is what I want for women."
                                                                                                Agnes Macphail


"What women want is not deference but equality. The old fashioned chivalry [flowers] is all hollow. It means nothing except that men think women inferior."
                                                                                               Agnes Macphail


"When I hear men talk about women being the angel of the home I always, mentally at least, shrug my shoulders in doubt. I do not want to be the angel of any home; I want for myself what I want for other women, absolute equality. After that is secured then men and women can take turns being angels."
                                                              Agnes Macphail, H or Cs, 26 February 1925


"Whereas men naturally place business values, economic values first, we women naturally place the emphasis on human values. So I wish to push human values to the forefront of politics."
                                                                                 Agnes Macphail, 7 June 1925


"One lone woman in Parliament
'Twas Agnes Macphail
When the miners were hungry
She never did fail
To fight for the starving
With their empty dinner pail
God give us more women."
Like Agnes Macphail.

               Agnes Macphail papers




"I would certainly hate to see a good woman wanted there [in the Senate]. It is a useless institution and appointment to it would be like being placed on a shelf prior to burial."
                                                                                         Agnes Macphail, 1929




Women Canadian Olympic Team. LAC, PA-053427 21 January 1930


"I am a feminist and I want for women the thing men are not willing to give them – absolute equality. We will not get it this year, but will get it next."
                                                         Agnes Macphail, Toronto Mail, 16 January 1931


"Men long ago decided that women's sphere was anything he did not wish to do himself."
                                                                    Nellie McClung, In Times Like These





"Why has Canada but one woman M.P., but one Senatoress? Why do the churches still refuse to ordain female priests and parsons, the courts to provide female judges only for juveniles? Why during the depression have married women been thrown ruthlessly out of jobs to make way for unemployed men? Why have single women to fight against such severe odds to gain the highest executive positions where only those of the most outstanding ability and endurance can succeed? And why do all women in business consistently receive less recompense than men for doing precisely the same work, for accepting precisely the same responsibilities? On what other grounds than a widespread belief that women are inferior; that, in fact, this is a man's world? "
                     Benge Atlee, Should Women Be Men?, Maclean's Magazine, 15 April 1934


1938 National Federation of Liberal Women of Canada LAC PA-096901


Three Women. Soviet Russia's stirring tribute to women. LAC, Acc. No. R738-90R Sydney Newman and Nathan Petroff 1939





Bibliothèque National du Québec

Manitoba Archives




For more wartime magazines visit:













War artist Molly Lamb, 1945, LAC PA-113772


"Women have fallen below the standard of citizenship which those who fought for the suffrage set for them. Women in politics have not flopped, because women politicians have on average exceeded their male counterparts, but there have been too few of them. These things take time."
                                                                       Agnes Macphail, 22 November 1946

"Maternity is the ultimate destiny of women and signifies the flowering of her existence."
                                                          La Mère canadienne et son enfant, 1946


"Whatever she does woman must do twice as well as any man to be thought of just half as good . . . luckily it's not difficult."
                                                                   Charlotte Whitten, Mayor of Ottawa


Should Bride Promise to Obey?
Bulk of Voters Say She Should

"Some people feel the word 'obey' should be omitted from the marriage service. Others think the wife should promise to obey. What are your views on this?"
Want "Obey" omitted . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31%
Want it retained . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44%
"Both should promise to obey" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6%
Qualified . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2%
Undecided . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17%

                                                                 Men  Women
Should omit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26%    36%
Should not omit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49%    40%
Both should promise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5%      7%
Qualified . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   1%     2%
Undecided . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19%    15%

Gallop Poll of Canada, The Montreal Daily Star, 15 November 1947




"A woman is regarded as a second-rate substitute for a man. The dice are loaded for half the population. The men want to hog everything. They want all the gravy, the gravy boat and the silver ladle."
                                                                      Agnes Macphail, 16 September 1949















"I can't be a rose in any man's lapel."
                               Margaret Trudeau



"There are fifty-six whopping cranes in Canada, and one female parliamentarian."
                                                                  Barbara Frum, Chatelaine, October 1971


Women march on Court House - Demonstrations protesting arrest of Dr. Henry Mortgentaler on abortion charge.  John Daggett, LAC PA-164027, 12 June 1970


Royal Commission of the Status of Women 1970 e010858739








19 Sept 1974 LAC Acc. No. 1988-243-394






LAC R112674-139 



"Being a career woman is harder than being a career man. You've got to look like a lady, act like a man, and work like a dog."
Margot Kidder, The Toronto Star, 18 August 1979





Here's One Small Reason Why You Shouldn't Have an Abortion :  advertisement poster for Right to Life. LAC, Acc. No. 1980-86-5, Fred Bird 1981


1985 LAC Acc. No. 1985-153-4


1990 Kim Campbell Barbara Woodley Labatt Breweries LAC PA 186869

"Society has yet to develop a better method to care for the young, protect the weak and attend the elderly."
                                   C Grendolyn Landolt, (REAL Realistic, Equal, Active for Life),
                                                                      The Globe and Mail, 23 April 1987


"Abortion is a decision between a woman, her doctor and God."
                                 Ralph Klein, The Globe and Mail, 7 April 1995