Women's Suffrage | The Canadian Encyclopedia

Women's Suffrage

Women in Canada obtained the right to vote in a sporadic fashion. Federal authorities granted them the franchise in 1918, more than two years after the women of Manitoba became the first to vote at the provincial level.

“Votes for Women” pennant
  1. January 01, 1791

    Ontario  Québec 

    Constitutional Act

    The Constitutional Act of 1791, affecting Upper and Lower Canada, did not address the issue of gender, and extended the franchise to “persons” who owned property of a certain value. However, there is no evidence of women voting in Upper Canada (now Ontario), which followed the tradition of English common law in which women did not exercise the franchise.

  2. June 11, 1792


    First Elections in Lower Canada

    The first elections were held in Lower Canada. Anyone over 21, including women, who owned property and had not been convicted of a criminal offence could vote.

  3. June 11, 1792


    First Elections in Lower Canada

    The first elections are held in Lower Canada. Anyone over 21 who owns sufficient property can vote, including women.

  4. January 01, 1832


    Imperial Reform Act

    The United Kingdom’s Imperial Reform Act restricted the franchise in that country to men, a move that influenced political thought in British North America.

  5. January 01, 1834


    Lower Canada Restricts Women’s Right to Vote

    The Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada (now Québec) passed an election Act including a clause restricting voting by women, supposedly to protect them from “dangerous conditions” at polling stations. The Act was later disallowed for reasons unrelated to suffrage, but, combined with increased social conservatism, it contributed to most women ceasing to vote.

  6. August 01, 1834

    Black Canadians 

    Slavery Abolition Act

    With the abolition of slavery throughout the British colonies, Black people legally became British citizens and were therefore entitled to the franchise. Racial discrimination did sometimes impede the exercise of this right, and Black women faced voting restrictions due to their sex.

  7. January 01, 1836


    Prince Edward Island Disenfranchises Women

    The Prince Edward Island Legislature excluded women from the franchise. For a time, there were regions in British North America where some women could vote; however, just as in Prince Edward Island, statutes were passed to disqualify women in places such as the Province of Canada and Nova Scotia.

  8. January 01, 1843


    New Brunswick Women Disenfranchised

    Officials in New Brunswick passed a law restricting the right to vote to men. Previously, the province’s 1795 electoral legislation had allowed “persons” meeting certain qualifications to vote. There is evidence that some women voted in New Brunswick prior to the 1843 legislation.

  9. January 01, 1844


    Women Vote in Canada West

    At least seven women voted in the 1844 election in Canada West (now Ontario). This was the first recorded instance of women violating common law tradition by voting in the province.

  10. January 01, 1849

    Ontario  Québec 

    Women in the Province of Canada Disenfranchised

    The Reform government of the Province of Canada (now Ontario and Québec) gained legislative approval for a law that prohibited women from voting.

  11. May 01, 1849

    Ontario  Québec 

    Women’s Voting Rights Removed in the Province of Canada

    Legislation barring women from voting is passed by the Province of Canada and becomes law.

  12. April 07, 1851


    Nova Scotia Women Disenfranchised

    The Franchise Act disenfranchised women by adding the word male to voting requirements. There had been no specific restrictions on women’s right to vote since Nova Scotia had been granted a General Assembly in 1758.

  13. March 24, 1853

    Black Canadians 

    The Provincial Freeman Published

    Educator, publisher, and abolitionist Mary Ann Shadd founded the The Provincial Freeman newspaper in order to promote Black emigration to Canada. Shadd also used the newspaper to discuss women’s rights, including the right to vote.

  14. September 18, 1861

    E. Cora Hind, journalist


    Birth of E. Cora Hind

    Ella Cora Hind, a journalist and women's rights activist who agitated for women's suffrage and was the first Western Canadian female journalist, was born in Toronto.

  15. January 01, 1867


    British North America Act

    The British North America Act stated that “every Male British Subject, aged Twenty-one Years or upwards, being a Householder, shall have a Vote.” Other criteria for voting were under provincial jurisdiction, and all five provinces had excluded women.

  16. January 01, 1872

    Asian Canadians 

    Chinese Canadians in BC Disenfranchised

    The British Columbia legislature passed a law banning Chinese residents from voting. In the 1860s, every male inhabitant of the province had been allowed to vote for legislative councillors. Prior to the ban, Chinese residents formed the majority of voters in some districts.

  17. January 01, 1873

    British Columbia 

    BC Women Gain Right to Vote in Municipal Elections

    Married and unmarried women who owned property in British Columbia were allowed to vote in municipal elections, but not to hold office.

  18. January 01, 1874


    Woman's Christian Temperance Union Founded

    The most important temperance society for women was the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, an American group whose Canadian counterpart was founded in 1874 by Letitia Youmans, in Picton, Ontario.

  19. April 12, 1876

    Indian Act

    Indigenous peoples 

    Indian Act

    The Indian Act is introduced. The Act aims to eradicate First Nations culture in favour of assimilation into Euro-Canadian society. The Act also reinforces that Status Indians must voluntarily give up status and treaty rights to vote federally. Status Indian women are barred from voting in band council elections.

  20. November 01, 1876


    First Suffrage Organization Founded in Canada

    After attending a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Women, Dr. Emily Stowe, a noted women’s right activist, organized the country’s first suffrage organization. Initially known as the Toronto Women’s Literary Club, the group provided space for women to follow intellectual pursuits, the most central being enfranchisement.

  21. January 01, 1882


    Some Ontario Women Can Vote on Municipal Bylaws

    The provincial government granted female property owners who were unmarried or widowed the right to vote on municipal bylaws.

  22. January 01, 1883


    Toronto Women’s Suffrage Association Established

    The Toronto Women’s Literary Club, a women’s group pursuing intellectual development, namely enfranchisement, changed its name to the Toronto Women’s Suffrage Association. It attempted to reach a national scale, as the Dominion Women’s Enfranchisement Association in 1889, but would largely work within Ontario’s borders.

  23. March 01, 1883


    Canadian Women’s Suffrage Association Founded

    The Toronto Women’s Literary Club voted to transform into the Canadian Woman’s Suffrage Association (CWSA) and became a forum for discussing women’s enfranchisement. The CWSA had male and female members who were interested in a variety of reform initiatives. Despite its name, much of the organization’s work centred on Ontario.

  24. January 01, 1884


    Municipal Vote Attempted for NS Unmarried Women

    An attempt to secure the municipal vote for widowed and unmarried women property holders failed. The legislation included the possibility of serving on school boards. When the vote came to a tie, the speaker broke it in favour of the anti-franchisers. Another attempt to get the municipal vote was passed in 1887, though school board service was revoked.

  25. January 01, 1884


    Some Ontario Women Can Vote in Municipal Elections

    The provincial government granted female property owners who were unmarried or widowed the right to vote in municipal elections.

  26. January 01, 1885


    Voters are Male “Persons”

    Under the Electoral Franchise Act, those permitted to vote at the federal level are defined as “male person[s].” The original draft of the bill had attempted to expand the franchise to unmarried women and widows with property (and to First Nations living on reserves), but these groups were dropped from the final legislation.

  27. January 01, 1885


    Provincial Franchise for Ontario Women First Proposed

    Liberal MPP John Waters introduced the first proposal to give women the provincial franchise. The rare politician to publicly support the suffrage movement, Waters promised to introduce a bill every session until it passed or he left office, which he did in 1894. Women got the provincial franchise in 1917.

  28. January 01, 1885


    Dominion Woman's Christian Temperance Union Founded

    The Dominion Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was formed. Letitia Youmans, the founder of the first WCTU branch in Canada — established in 1874 in Picton, ON — was the Dominion WCTU’s first president.

  29. January 01, 1885


    Northwest Territories Women Disenfranchised Municipally

    Women in the Northwest Territories (including what later became Alberta and Saskatchewan) were barred from voting in municipal elections or holding municipal office, but were allowed to vote for, and become, school trustees.

  30. January 01, 1885

    Indigenous peoples 

    Status Indians Enfranchised in Nova Scotia

    Federal legislation put forward by Sir John A. Macdonald extended voting rights to Status Indians in eastern Canada who met existing property requirements. The federal legislation was repealed in 1898, but, unlike other provinces, Nova Scotia did not subsequently enact laws disqualifying Status Indians from voting provincially.

  31. January 01, 1885

    Indigenous peoples  National 

    Electoral Franchise Act

    The original draft of the Act gave federal voting rights to some women, but under the final legislation, only men can vote. The Act gives some Reserve First Nations with property qualifications the right to vote, but bars Chinese Canadians.

  32. January 01, 1886


    Unmarried Women Gain Municipal Franchise in New Brunswick

    After receiving several petitions from town and city councils and small groups of women, the New Brunswick legislature passed a bill that granted the municipal franchise to unmarried women who met the property requirements applied to men.

  33. January 01, 1887


    Manitoba Women Win the Right to Vote in Municipal Elections

    Female property owners in Manitoba win the right to vote in municipal elections. However, neither that class of women nor any other women at the time were enfranchised at any other level.

  34. January 01, 1889


    Dominion Women’s Enfranchisement Association Established

    The Dominion Women’s Enfranchisement Association was established. It was one of the first attempts at a national suffrage organization, though it worked largely within Ontario’s borders. The association’s co-founder and president was suffragist and women’s rights advocate Dr. Emily Stowe, the first Canadian woman to practise medicine in Canada.

  35. February 01, 1889


    Dominion Women’s Enfranchisement Association Created

    The Canadian Women’s Suffrage Association reorganized to become the Dominion Women’s Enfranchisement Association (DWEA). Under the presidency of suffragist Dr. Emily Stowe, the DWEA hoped to reinvigorate the national suffrage movement. With the motto “The Women’s Cause is Man’s,” DWEA aimed to become Canada’s central suffrage association.

  36. January 01, 1890


    Manitoba Women Win the Right to Vote in School Board Elections

    Female property owners in Manitoba win the right to vote in school board elections and the right to serve as school trustees.

  37. October 01, 1890


    Association for the Advancement of Women Holds Toronto Convention

    The Association for the Advancement of Women, an American women’s equality organization, held a convention in Toronto. The meeting garnered mostly positive attention from the press. Canadian suffragists in attendance included Dr. Emily Stowe. The convention showed the increasingly international nature of the women’s movement and Canada’s evolving role within it.

  38. March 18, 1891


    Newfoundland WCTU Presents Suffrage Petition

    Some 50 members of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union presented petitions at the St. John’s Colonial Building. The signatures, requesting the municipal franchise, had been collected across the island. The petitions were met with scorn. Though the House of Assembly held two debates, the measure was defeated each time.

  39. January 01, 1893


    Montréal Council of Women Created

    The Montréal Council of Women (MCW, or Conseil local des femmes de Montréal) was founded as a non-political association of women’s organizations, providing a voice for the region’s women. Lady Aberdeen, founder of the National Council of Women, was involved in the MCW’s establishment. The MCW now has over 70 affiliated associations and over 30,000 members.

  40. January 01, 1893


    Women’s Suffrage Petition Presented by WCTU

    Amelia Yeomans and the Manitoba chapter of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) petitioned the provincial government, calling for women to have the vote. When this petition was ignored, the WCTU sponsored what would be the first mock parliament in Canada. The mock parliament was a powerful medium in which suffragists made their arguments for the right to vote. These events were also organized to raise funds and public support for suffrage organizations.

  41. February 09, 1893


    Mock Parliament Held in Winnipeg

    The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union hosted a mock parliament at the Bijou Theatre in Winnipeg. Dr. Amelia Yeomans acted as the “premier,” arguing for women’s enfranchisement. Other attendees included Nellie McClung and E. Cora Hind. The performance was one of four mock parliaments held in Manitoba.

  42. October 27, 1893


    National Council of Women Meet

    Lady Aberdeen chaired the organizational meeting of the National Council of Women in Canada.

  43. April 04, 1894


    New Brunswick Women’s Enfranchisement Association Founded

    The New Brunswick Women’s Enfranchisement Association was established in Saint John. It emerged from a small society seeking to become a branch of the Dominion Women’s Enfranchisement Association. Wanting to form connections outside the region, the WEA voted to send a member to the National Council of Women convention in Ottawa.

  44. November 01, 1894


    Manitoba Equal Suffrage Club Established

    Dr. Amelia Yeomans and E. Cora Hind announced the formation of the Equal Franchise Association (also known as the Equal Suffrage Club) at the end of a Woman’s Christian Temperance Union meeting in Winnipeg. Yeomans believed that prohibition might alienate possible suffrage supporters (including men) and that suffrage should be a separate movement. She was the club’s first president.

  45. January 01, 1895

    Asian Canadians  British Columbia 

    Japanese Canadians Lose the Right to Vote in BC

    British Columbia amends the Provincial Voters’ Act to remove the right to vote from Japanese Canadians.

  46. January 01, 1895

    Asian Canadians 

    Japanese Canadians in BC Disenfranchised

    The government of British Columbia amended the Provincial Voters’ Act, disenfranchising Japanese Canadians in the province.

  47. February 27, 1895


    Saint John Telegraph Publishes Pro-Suffrage Editorial

    In response to over a dozen petitions delivered to the legislature in support of an enfranchisement bill (which ultimately failed to pass), the Saint John Telegraph published a substantial editorial. The piece applauded the suffragists’ attempt and excoriated government officials, saying the opposing arguments were “denominated as twaddle.”

  48. March 01, 1895


    Halifax Suffrage Association Established

    The Halifax Suffrage Association (HSA) was established with Anna Leonowens, an author and feminist, as its first president. Leonowens would become one the region’s most visible leaders in the women’s rights movement. The HSA leadership included Eliza Ritchie, who was Nova Scotia’s first female professor, and community leader Charlotte McNeill.

  49. May 08, 1895


    Motion for Women’s Suffrage

    MP Nicholas Flood Davin, representing Assiniboia West, introduced a motion to allow women the vote. In the ensuing discussion, it was argued that a woman’s “proper sphere” was the home, and that “it [would] take away from the real charm and womanliness of women if they were given the franchise and allowed to mix in politics.” Davin’s motion was eventually defeated, 105 votes to 47.

  50. January 01, 1896


    Saint John Hosts Association for the Advancement of Women Convention

    The Association for the Advancement of Women, an American women’s rights organization, held its convention in Saint John. In an ironic twist, noted American suffragist Julia Ward Howe stayed at the home of NB Chief Justice William Tuck, who didn’t believe women should be permitted in the public sphere.

  51. February 18, 1896


    Suffragists Hold Mock Parliament in Toronto

    The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the Dominion Women’s Enfranchisement Association organized a mock parliament in Toronto’s Allan Gardens’ Pavilion. Women and men participated in the performance, with men asking for the male franchise from a female premier (impersonating the province’s leader Sir Oliver Mowat). The event was a rousing success.

  52. July 10, 1896

    Thérèse Casgrain


    Birth of Thérèse Casgrain

    Reformer Thérèse Casgrain, who is best remembered for her leadership of the campaign for women's suffrage in Québec before the Second World War, was born in Montréal.

  53. January 01, 1902

    Black Canadians 

    Founding of the Coloured Women’s Club of Montreal

    The first and oldest Black women’s organization in Canada, The Coloured Women’s Club of Montreal, was formed by seven American women whose husbands worked for the railway. The group grew and was active in providing financial, educational, religious, and health-related services to Montréal’s Black communities.

  54. January 01, 1903


    Stowe-Gullen Named Dominion Women’s Enfranchisement Association President

    Dedicated women’s advocate Dr. Augusta Stowe-Gullen succeeded her mother, Dr. Emily Stowe, as president of the Dominion Women’s Enfranchisement Association. A leading suffragist, she worked tirelessly for the women’s vote for many years, often alongside her mother. Stowe-Gullen was also the first woman to graduate with a medical degree in Canada.

  55. January 01, 1904


    National Council of Women Moves to Establish Suffrage Committee

    The National Council of Women (NCW) established a Standing Committee on Suffrage and Rights of Citizenship to better attend to the fight for women’s equality. Lead by Dr. Augusta Stowe-Gullen, the committee tracked the movement’s gains and losses, publicizing both. Despite the committee, the NCW did not completely endorse suffrage.

  56. January 01, 1904


    First WCTU Chapter Founded in North-West Territories

    Women’s rights advocate Louise McKinney founded the first North-West Territories chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in Claresholm, NT (now Alberta). Though the WCTU worked to prohibit alcohol, it was also provided fertile ground for the suffrage movement. McKinney would go on to be part of the “Famous Five,” known for their work in the Persons Case.

  57. January 01, 1907

    Asian Canadians 

    South Asian Canadians in BC Disenfranchised

    In British Columbia, all “Hindus” — a word used to describe anyone originating from the Indian subcontinent who was not Anglo-Saxon — were disenfranchised.

  58. May 01, 1907


    First General Meeting of the Fédération nationale Saint-Jean-Baptiste

    The Fédération nationale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, a francophone organization for Catholic women, held its first general meeting. The organization incorporated other Catholic women’s charitable and professional associations under the leadership of Marie Gérin-Lajoie, née Lacoste. It would be a key group in the Québec women’s movement, particularly in the advancement of the suffrage question.

  59. January 01, 1908

    British Columbia 

    Victoria’s Local Council of Women Endorses Suffrage

    Victoria’s Local Council of Women voted to endorse women’s suffrage. It was the first women’s council in Canada to do so. The Victoria council’s endorsement, under the presidency of Cecilia Spofford, was surprising because the National Council of Women would not do so until 1910.

  60. January 01, 1908

    Asian Canadians 

    Chinese Canadians in Saskatchewan Disenfranchised

    The province of Saskatchewan passed a law disenfranchising Chinese Canadians.

  61. February 10, 1908


    Suffragist Denison Tours Maritimes

    Noted Toronto suffragist Flora MacDonald Denison toured the Maritimes on behalf of the Canadian Suffrage Association. The region had seen little public interest in the suffrage movement, but Denison’s visit induced some curiosity. She suggested a Halifax-based suffrage group be formed, but despite some interest from a local organization, it was never formed.

  62. March 01, 1909


    Suffragists Deliver Petition to Ontario Premier

    Over 400 female and male suffragists delivered a petition to Ontario Premier Sir James Whitney. Suffragists considered the petition proof of the strong desire for the woman’s vote. It contained some 100,000 signatures demanding women’s suffrage. Afterwards, the Toronto Evening Telegram’s headline read: “Sir James says ‘Not Now.’”

  63. June 24, 1909


    International Council of Women Holds Toronto Meeting

    The International Council of Women held its meeting in Toronto. Thousands of delegates arrived from across Canada, Europe, Australia and India. Women’s advocate Lady Aberdeen chaired the proceedings. At the conference, the Council passed a resolution that called for women’s suffrage in every country with a representative government.

  64. October 23, 1909


    Toronto World Endorses Women’s Suffrage

    The Toronto World newspaper endorsed women’s suffrage. Suffragists sometimes had a strained relationship with the press. The World’s front-page editorial blamed the nation’s ugly political scene on its lack of female participants. The newspaper urged Ontario to be the first province to extend the franchise to its female citizens.

  65. December 01, 1909


    St. John’s Ladies’ Reading Room Formed

    The Ladies’ Reading Room and Current Events Club was established. Members had been banned from attending not only lectures at the local men’s club, but its suffrage debates. The Ladies’ Club drew women from all classes, politicizing them by providing information about the suffrage movement via international newspapers and journals.

  66. January 01, 1910


    National Council of Women Endorses Women’s Suffrage

    The National Council of Women voted to endorse women’s suffrage. As the authority on women’s issues since 1893, the Council tended to stay away from controversial issues such as temperance and suffrage. With more suffragists joining the Council, members reluctantly called a vote. The resolution passed 71 to 51.

  67. January 01, 1910

    British Columbia 

    Victoria’s Local Council of Women Holds Mock Parliament

    Victoria’s Local Council of Women held a mock parliament. Both the lieutenant-governor and the premier of British Columbia attended the performance. The mock parliament was one of two organized by BC women’s rights advocates during the suffrage movement. The University of British Columbia Women’s Club in Vancouver also staged a mock parliament that year.

  68. May 05, 1910

    British Columbia 

    British Columbia Political Equality League Holds Founding Convention

    The British Columbia Political Equality League (BCPEL) held its inaugural convention. The League included women and men as members. The Vancouver and Victoria Political Equality Leagues would form the core of the BCPEL, hoping to make suffrage a province-wide movement. Vancouver’s mayor led the meeting during which he proclaimed his support for suffrage.

  69. January 16, 1911

    British Columbia 

    Vancouver Political Equality League Founded

    The inaugural meeting of the Vancouver Political Equality League (VPEL) was held at the city’s Theosophical Hall. Maria Grant led the meeting, though the first elected president would be Woman’s Christian Temperance Union activist Florence Hall. The women chose not to use “suffrage” in their name to avoid the word’s increasing infamy.

  70. March 04, 1911


    Women’s Delegation Meets Ontario Premier

    Two hundred suffragists arrived at the Legislative Assembly to meet with Premier Sir James Whitney. The premier stopped them in the grand foyer, where he listened to the women’s request for enfranchisement. He remained non-committal to the cause. The delegates all wore daffodils to the meeting, since yellow was the suffrage movement’s colour.

  71. January 01, 1912


    Manitoba Political Equality League Established

    Nellie McClung, E. Cora Hind, Francis Beynon, her sister Lillian Thomas, and a number of other professional women formed the Political Equality League (PEL) and launched a sharp, concerted campaign that pulled in support from the Manitoba Grain Growers’ Association, the WCTU, and the Manitoba Direct Legislation League. Several men, including Grain Growers’ Guide editor George Chipman and journalist Fred Dixon, joined the league. Before long, the PEL had 1,200 members.

  72. January 15, 1912


    Women’s Equality Association Hosts Sylvia Pankhurst

    The New Brunswick Women’s Equality Association hosted a public talk by famous British suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst at the Saint John Opera House. Pankhurst spoke of the power of strategic militancy. Local suffragist and social reformer Emma Skinner, a leading voice for the Women’s Enfranchisement Association, shared the stage with Pankhurst.

  73. June 01, 1912


    Grain Growers’ Guide Names Female Editor

    Grain Growers’ Guide editor-in-chief George F. Chapman appointed feminist Francis Beynon as editor of the weekly’s woman’s page. Since the Guide’s creation in 1908, it had published articles and letters on suffrage. Chapman was a noted supporter of the movement. Beynon would edit the section until June 1917.

  74. August 28, 1912


    Suffragettes Confront Prime Minister Borden

    Members of the Women’s Social and Political Union confronted Prime Minister Robert Borden at the Savoy Hotel in London, England. The suffragettes lamented the status of Canadian women and threatened to bring a militant suffrage campaign to Canadian shores. Borden declared that Canadian women “were quite capable of looking after themselves.”

  75. November 04, 1912


    British Suffragist Barbara Wylie Gives Speech in Montréal

    Noted member of the British Women’s Social and Political Union Barbara Wylie addressed a Montréal audience during her Canadian speaking tour. Pro-militancy, Wylie implored her audience to demand the Federal Elections Act be revoked: “Don’t be submissive. Don’t be docile. Don’t be ladylike […] Remember you are fighting for liberty.”

  76. December 23, 1912


    Prime Minister Borden Meets Canadian Suffrage Association Delegation

    Canadian Suffrage Association members met with Prime Minister Robert Borden in Toronto. Led by prominent suffragist Flora Macdonald Denison, the women asked Borden for federal voting legislation, hoping he would publicly state his suffrage position. Borden demurred with a vague mention of changes at some point in the future.

  77. January 01, 1913


    Edmonton Equal Franchise League Established

    The Edmonton Equal Franchise League, Alberta’s first organization wholly dedicated to suffrage, was established. Created on the heels of the United Farmers of Alberta’s pro-equal rights resolution, the League included male members such as the University of Alberta’s Dr. W.H. Alexander. Female members included Emily Murphy and Nellie McClung.

  78. January 16, 1913

    British Columbia 

    BC Political Equality League Hosts Membership Drive

    The BC Political Equality League held a membership drive on the legislature’s first day of session in 1913. The outdoor event included speeches as pamphlets and a suffrage petition were circulated. The drive kept enfranchisement in public view.

  79. February 14, 1913

    British Columbia 

    BC Suffragists Deliver Petition

    Delegates from the BC Political Equality League presented a suffrage petition to Premier Richard McBride. While the premier had previously mentioned that not enough women appeared interested in the right to vote, the petition contained some 10,000 signatures. At the meeting, McBride was evasive. Six days later, he refused the PEL’s request in the Legislature.

  80. March 03, 1913


    Canadian Suffragists Join March in Washington, DC

    A Canadian delegation, led by suffragists Flora Macdonald Denison and Dr. Augusta Stowe-Gullen, joined a suffrage parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. The parade included some 5,000 marchers from American and international groups. Increasingly belligerent, mostly male bystanders, numbering near 500,000, harassed the women along the route.

  81. April 24, 1913


    First Montréal Suffrage Association Council Elected

    One of the first organizations in Québec’s suffrage movement, the Montréal Suffrage Association, elected its first council. French-Canadian participation was difficult to grow. The group would dissolve six years later when the council felt their membership did not adequately represent the province’s women.

  82. January 01, 1914


    National Union of Woman Suffrage Societies of Canada Established

    The push to organize women’s suffrage at the national level, and energize the movement countrywide, resulted in the creation of the National Union of Woman Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). Localized societies sent members to a Toronto meeting, where the vote was nearly unanimous. The NUWSS later became the National Equal Franchise Union.

  83. January 01, 1914


    Alice Jamieson, First Female Judge in Canada

    Alice Jamieson became the first female judge in Canada and the British Empire when she was appointed to Calgary’s juvenile court. Jamieson, a suffragist, faced opposition to her appointment, noting “cold shoulders greeting me on every hand.” Yet she was determined, “I drew myself up and said, ‘well, I’m here and I’m going to stay.’”

  84. January 27, 1914

    Roblin, Sir Rodmond Palen


    Manitoba Suffragist Delegation Appears before Legislative Assembly

    A delegation of suffragists gathered before the Manitoba Legislative Assembly. The group included Nellie McClung, who demanded, “Give us our due!” Conservative Premier Sir Rodmond Roblin responded, stating that, “most women don’t want the vote.” McClung lampooned Roblin’s response the next night in a historic mock parliament.

  85. January 28, 1914

    Mock Parliament at Walker Theatre


    Walker Theatre Mock Parliament

    Suffragists held a mock Women’s Parliament at the Walker Theatre in Winnipeg. Nellie McClung played the role of the premier, addressing a group of men seeking the franchise in front of a packed, laughing audience. The event was a financial success and helped render the notion of women’s suffrage more publicly acceptable.

  86. February 01, 1915


    Saskatchewan Provincial Equal Franchise Board Founded

    The Saskatchewan Provincial Equal Franchise Board was founded in the tiny town of Moosomin. Led by Violet McNaughton, the 50-member board spearheaded the province’s suffrage movement until 1916. It united such disparate groups as the Women Grain Growers and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union behind a common cause.

  87. February 26, 1915

    Nellie McClung


    McClung's Petition

    Suffragist Nellie McClung presented the Alberta legislature with a petition demanding that women be given the right to vote. The right was granted in municipal elections 2 months later.

  88. March 01, 1915


    United Farm Women of Alberta Host Equal Franchise League

    The United Farm Women’s Parliament (i.e., annual convention) hosted the president of the Edmonton Equal Franchise League, Dr. W.H. Alexander. During his speech, Alexander praised a recent petition drive, but lamented the lack of representation by the province’s rural women and urged the audience to redouble their suffrage efforts.

  89. December 23, 1915


    Manitoba Political Equality League Presents Petitions

    A delegation from the Manitoba Political Equality League presented two suffrage petitions to Premier Tobias Norris. The group, which included both women and men, had collected nearly 40,000 signatures, stating there was no reason to keep women from voting. Ninety-three-year-old Amelia Burritt presented the second petition 4,250 names.

  90. January 01, 1916

    Black Canadians 

    First UNIA Chapters Are Established in Canada

    In 1916, the Glace Bay Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), one of the first Canadian divisions of the UNIA, opened in Nova Scotia. This organization was spearheaded by West Indian immigrants who were already familiar with the teachings of Marcus Garvey, founder of the UNIA. After the First World War, West Indians living elsewhere in the country — most notably in Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton — established their own UNIA divisions. For a time, the UNIA was the most important Black socio-economic and educational force in Canada.

  91. January 28, 1916


    Manitoba Women Win Right to Vote

    Women in Manitoba who are of British descent or citizenship, 21 or older, and not otherwise disqualified are given the right to vote provincially and to hold provincial office. Other provinces soon follow and grant women the right to vote in provincial elections.

  92. March 14, 1916

    McClung, Murphy and Jamieson


    Saskatchewan Women Get Vote

    Saskatchewan women won the rights to vote and to hold provincial office.

  93. Prairies 

    Alberta Women Get Vote

    Alberta women won the rights to vote and to hold provincial office.

  94. September 14, 1916

    British Columbia 

    British Columbia Suffrage Referendum Passes

    Male voters in British Columbia passed a suffrage referendum, agreeing that women should have the right to vote. Conservative Premier William Bowser had said he would not move on enfranchisement without a referendum, attaching it to the provincial election. Suffragists saw it as a delaying strategy and vigorously campaigned for the Liberal party.

  95. British Columbia 

    BC Women Get Vote

    British Columbia women (except Asian and Indigenous women) won the rights to vote and to hold provincial office.

  96. Ontario 

    Women Get Vote in Ontario

    Women were granted the right to vote and hold public office in Ontario.

  97. June 07, 1917

    Louise McKinney, women's rights activist, legislator


    First Elected Women

    Louise McKinney and Roberta MacAdams were the first women in Canada elected to a provincial legislature, in Alberta.

  98. September 20, 1917


    Wartime Elections Act and Military Voters Act

    Parliament passes the Wartime Elections ActThe right to vote federally now extends to women in the armed forces and female relatives of military men. However, Citizens considered of “enemy alien” birth and some pacifist communities are disenfranchised. 

  99. October 01, 1917

    British Columbia 

    BC Suffrage Societies Meet with Conservative MP

    Conservative MP H.H. Stevens met with members of the BC United Suffrage Societies (USS) after he had mused, in the House of Commons, about its ability to represent women in BC. The USS was not pleased that Stevens had raised one woman’s telegram — in which she argued that the USS did not speak for BC’s patriotic women — as an example of BC women’s opinion.

  100. January 01, 1918


    Constance Hamilton Establishes the Woman’s Party

    Feminist Constance Hamilton, along with a number of Toronto members of the National Equal Franchise Union, created the Woman’s Party. The organization was established to continue the fight for women’s rights after the battle for suffrage concluded. Its reform advocacy included equal pay for equal work and equal parental rights.

  101. January 24, 1918

    British Columbia 

    First Woman Elected to BC legislature

    Mary Ellen Smith was the first woman elected to the BC legislature; it was the first election in which women could vote in BC.

  102. January 31, 1918


    First Annual Meeting of NS Equal Franchise League

    The Nova Scotia Equal Franchise League held its first, and last, annual meeting. Both women and men joined the league, which provided information for any group interested. The Halifax Explosion of December 1917 so impacted its membership that the League decided its resources were better used in aiding the victims.

  103. February 28, 1918


    Canadian Government Sponsors Women’s War Conference

    The Cabinet War Committee invited women’s organizations to Ottawa for deliberations on how they could increase female participation in the war effort. Attendees from across Canada included such prominent feminists as Nellie McClung and E. Cora Hind. The conference highlighted the growing understanding that women’s political support was crucial for federal policies.

  104. April 26, 1918


    Nova Scotia Women Get Vote

    Nova Scotia women won the rights to vote and to hold provincial office.

  105. May 24, 1918

    Indigenous peoples  National 

    Women Granted Right to Vote in Federal Elections

    Many Canadian women are granted the right to vote in federal elections, but First Nations women can only vote if they give up their status and treaty rights.

  106. April 17, 1919


    New Brunswick Women Get Vote

    New Brunswick women won the right to vote but not to hold provincial office.

  107. May 20, 1919


    Yukon Women Get Vote

    Yukon women won the right to vote and seek elected office.

  108. July 01, 1919


    Women Gain Right to Hold Office

    Women became eligible to stand for office in the House of Commons.

  109. July 29, 1919


    Saskatchewan Elects First Female MLA

    Sarah Ramsland, Saskatchewan’s first female Member of the Legislative Assembly, won her seat in a by-election. After her husband, MLA Max Ramsland, died in the 1918 influenza epidemic, Sarah was invited to run in the same district and won. In the first 66 years in which Saskatchewan women could hold provincial office, only 10 were elected.

  110. February 26, 1920

    Indigenous peoples 

    Indian Act Amendment Allows for Forced Enfranchisement of Status Indians

    The Indian Act is amended to allow for the forced enfranchisement of First Nations whom the government thought should be removed from band lists. Enfranchisement was the most common of the legal processes by which First Nations peoples lost their Indian Status under the Indian Act.

  111. May 20, 1920


    Newfoundland Petition Calls for General Franchise

    Newfoundland suffragists delivered a petition requesting the general franchise for women to the island’s legislature. The petition had 1,700 signatures, and a bill was introduced to move forward on its demand. Later in the year the Liberal government, under Sir Richard Squires, rejected the bill by way of a party vote.

  112. June 29, 1920


    First Woman Elected to Manitoba Legislature

    Edith MacTavish Rogers became the first woman elected to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.

  113. July 01, 1920

    Asian Canadians  Indigenous peoples  National 

    Dominion Elections Act

    The Dominion Elections Act enfranchised many of those who had been disenfranchised during the First World War, such as those originating from countries with which Canada had been at war. However, the Act stated that anyone who was disenfranchised by provincial legislation because of race would remain disenfranchised from the federal vote. This included persons of Chinese origin in Saskatchewan, and those of Indigenous, Chinese, Japanese, and South Asian origins in British Columbia.

  114. January 01, 1921


    Provincial Franchise Committee Established

    After a period of little activity in the fight for women’s suffrage in Québec, the Provincial Franchise Committee was established. The victory of women’s enfranchisement at the federal level inspired a renewed push for the provincial vote in Québec. The Committee argued it did not want to change traditional social hierarchies.

  115. March 23, 1921

    British Columbia 

    Mary Ellen Smith Appointed First Female Cabinet Minister

    Premier John Oliver appointed Mary Ellen Smith as minister without portfolio, making her the first female Cabinet member in the British Empire. A noted suffragist, she resigned just eight months later, stating: “a Cabinet minister without portfolio is as a fifth wheel on the political couch, a superfluity.”

  116. July 18, 1921


    Parlby Elected

    Irene Parlby was elected to the Alberta Legislature, representing Lacombe in the United Farmers of Alberta government. She was subsequently named to Cabinet, as minister without portfolio. Parlby was only the second woman in the British Empire to hold ministerial office. She was particularly active on issues related to public health care, improved wages for working women and married women's property rights.

  117. February 09, 1922


    500 Women Confront Québec Premier

    A delegation of some 500 suffragists met with Premier Louis-Alexandre Taschereau, demanding enfranchisement. Women’s rights advocate Marie Gérin-Lajoie, née Lacoste lead the group. Despite women having the federal vote, Taschereau stated that women would not get the provincial vote as long as he was premier. He held office for another 13 years.

  118. May 03, 1922


    PEI Women Get Vote

    Prince Edward Island women won the rights to vote and to hold provincial office.

  119. January 01, 1924

    Indigenous peoples 

    First Nations Veterans Granted Right to Vote

    The federal franchise was extended to Status Indian veterans of the First World War, including those living on reserves.

  120. April 03, 1925


    Newfoundland and Labrador Women Get Vote

    Women over 25 years of age gained the right to vote and to stand for political office in Newfoundland and Labrador.

  121. April 13, 1925


    Newfoundland Women Get Vote

    Newfoundland women won the rights to vote and to hold provincial office.

  122. December 10, 1927

    Asian Canadians 

    Birth of Margaret Jean Gee

    Margaret Jean Gee was born in Vancouver, BC. In 1953, she became the first woman of Chinese descent to graduate in law at the University of British Columbia. The following year, she became the first Chinese Canadian woman in British Columbia to be called to the bar.

  123. October 18, 1929


    Women Legally Persons

    The Imperial Privy Council ruled that women were legally "persons" and therefore could hold seats in the Canadian Senate.

  124. May 17, 1930


    First Woman Elected to the NL House of Assembly

    Helena Squires became the first woman elected to the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly.

  125. January 01, 1931

    Asian Canadians 

    Japanese Canadian Veterans Given Right to Vote

    The federal government granted the franchise to Japanese Canadian veterans of the First World War. They were the first Japanese Canadians given the right to vote.

  126. January 01, 1934

    Indigenous peoples 

    Dominion Franchise Act

    Inuit and First Nations persons living on reserves are disqualified from voting in federal elections, except for First Nations veterans who had previously received the vote.

  127. March 09, 1934

    McClung, Murphy and Jamieson


    NB Women Gain Right to Hold Office

    New Brunswick women won the right to hold provincial office.

  128. January 01, 1936

    Asian Canadians 

    Japanese Canadians Request Franchise

    A delegation of Japanese Canadians travelled to Ottawa to speak before the Special Committee on Elections and Franchise Acts. Despite their presentation, the federal government upheld the denial of the franchise.

  129. March 24, 1937

    British Columbia 

    First Woman Elected to Vancouver City Council

    Helena Gutteridge became the first female member of the Vancouver City Council. Gutteridge had been a force in the political scene for several decades. A noted feminist and socialist, she worked tirelessly for enfranchisement during the suffrage movement and for workers’ rights.

  130. April 25, 1940


    Québec Women Get Vote

    Québec women were the last in Canada to earn the rights to vote and run for office in provincial elections.

  131. August 04, 1943


    First Women Elected to Ontario Legislature

    Agnes Macphail and Rae Luckock became the first women elected to the Ontario legislature.

  132. January 01, 1944

    Indigenous peoples 

    Status Indian Servicemen and their Spouses Enfranchised

    During the Second World War, the federal government extended the right to vote to Status Indians who served in the war and their spouses.

  133. January 01, 1944

    Asian Canadians 

    Chinese Canadians in Saskatchewan Given Right to Vote

    The government of Saskatchewan restored Chinese Canadian residents’ right to vote, a right that had been denied in 1908.

  134. January 01, 1947

    Asian Canadians 

    Chinese and South Asian Canadians Gain Right to Vote Federally and Provincially

    The Citizenship Act extended the right to vote federally and provincially to Chinese Canadian and South Asian Canadian men and women. However, it ignored Indigenous peoples and Japanese Canadians.

  135. January 01, 1947

    Asian Canadians 

    Chinese and South Asian Canadians in BC Enfranchised

    The British Columbia legislature removed the words Chinese and Hindus from the list of those ineligible to vote.

  136. January 01, 1948

    Indigenous peoples 

    Changes to Elections Act Regarding Race

    The federal Elections Act was changed so that race was no longer grounds for exclusion from voting in federal elections. While Japanese Canadians were enfranchised, First Nations peoples would not gain that right until 1960.

  137. January 01, 1949

    Indigenous peoples 

    First Nations Gain Right to Vote in British Columbia

    Status Indians in British Columbia were granted the right to vote in provincial elections.

  138. April 01, 1949

    Asian Canadians 

    Japanese Canadians Enfranchised

    Japanese Canadians were given the right to vote, and the legal restrictions used to control the movement of Japanese Canadians were removed. With their freedom reestablished, some moved back to British Columbia. But due to the hardships suffered, most Japanese Canadians who were expelled from the coast or deported did not return. With the extension of the federal franchise to Japanese Canadians, the last statutory disenfranchisement of Asians was removed.

  139. December 12, 1949

    British Columbia  National 

    First Woman Speaker

    Nancy Hodges was named Speaker of the BC Legislature, the first woman to hold the post of Speaker in the British Commonwealth.

  140. January 01, 1950

    Indigenous peoples 

    Inuit Enfranchised

    The Inuit were enfranchised without restrictions. However, the geographic isolation of northern communities meant that many did not have the opportunity to vote until ballot boxes were placed in all Inuit communities for the 1962 federal election.

  141. January 01, 1951

    Indigenous peoples 

    First Nations Women Gain Right to Vote in Band Council Elections

    Changes to the Indian Act granted First Nations women the right to vote in band council elections. Prior to European contact, Indigenous women had traditionally played important roles in community decision-making.

  142. June 12, 1951


    Northwest Territories Women Get Vote

    Women in the Northwest Territories won the right to vote and stand for office.

  143. January 01, 1952

    Indigenous peoples 

    First Nations Gain Right to Vote in Manitoba

    Status Indians in Manitoba were granted the right to vote in provincial elections.

  144. January 01, 1954

    Indigenous peoples 

    First Nations Gain Right to Vote in Ontario

    Status Indians in Ontario were granted the right to vote in provincial elections.

  145. June 21, 1957


    Fairclough First Minister

    Ellen Louks Fairclough was the first woman to be appointed to the federal Cabinet.

  146. January 01, 1960

    Indigenous peoples 

    First Nations Gain Right to Vote in Saskatchewan

    Status Indians in Saskatchewan were granted the right to vote in provincial elections.

  147. June 07, 1960


    First Woman Elected to the Nova Scotia Legislature

    Gladys Porter became the first woman elected to the Nova Scotia legislature.

  148. July 01, 1960

    In Hiawatha Council Hall on Occasion of a Federal By-election

    Indigenous peoples 

    Right to Vote for Status Indians

    Status Indians receive the right to vote in federal elections, no longer losing their status or treaty rights in the process. (See also Indigenous Suffrage in Canada.)

  149. December 14, 1961


    First Woman Elected to the National Assembly of Québec

    Marie-Claire Kirkland-Casgrain became the first woman elected to the National Assembly of Québec.

  150. January 01, 1963


    Judy LaMarsh Becomes Second Female Cabinet Minister

    Judy LaMarsh became the second female cabinet minister. The Canada Pension Plan was implemented during LaMarsh’s tenure, and Canada’s “Medicare” system drafted. As secretary of state, she later established the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada.

  151. January 01, 1963

    Indigenous peoples 

    First Nations Gain Right to Vote in New Brunswick

    Status Indians in New Brunswick were granted the right to vote in provincial elections.

  152. January 01, 1963

    Indigenous peoples 

    First Nations Gain Right to Vote in Prince Edward Island

    Status Indians in Prince Edward Island were granted the right to vote in provincial elections.

  153. June 18, 1964


    Married Women in Québec Gain Legal Capacity

    Under Bill 16, Québec women were able to act independently of their husbands, i.e., make decisions without their husband’s approval. This ability to have legal capacity had a huge impact, particularly on contractual transactions. The bill was championed by Marie-Claire Kirkland-Casgrain, Québec’s first female member of the Legislative Assembly.

  154. January 01, 1965

    Indigenous peoples 

    First Nations Gain Right to Vote in Alberta

    Status Indians in Alberta were granted the right to vote in provincial elections.

  155. May 25, 1966


    Parlby Designated Historic Person

    Advocate and respected politician Irene Parlby was designated a National Historic Person. Parlby was best known for her role in the Persons Case, but she worked in Alberta’s Cabinet as minister without portfolio at a time when female politicians were largely marginalized. She was known as the “Women’s Minister.”

  156. January 01, 1967

    Indigenous peoples 

    Equal Rights for Indian Women Association Created

    Equal Rights for Indian Women (ERIW) was established in Québec. A provincial organization, ERIW was founded by Mohawk women’s rights activist Mary Two-Axe Earley, who fought the loss of Indian status suffered by Indigenous women married to non-Status Indians. ERIW faced strong resistance from male leaders in First Nations communities.

  157. September 09, 1967


    Walker-Sawka Seeks Leadership of PC Party of Canada

    Mary Walker-Sawka, a movie producer and freelance writer, was a candidate in the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada convention. Although she only received two votes, Walker-Sawka became the first woman to seek the leadership of a major political party.

  158. September 11, 1967


    First Woman Elected to the Yukon Territorial Council

    Jean Gordon became the first woman elected to the Yukon Territorial Council.

  159. October 23, 1967


    First Woman Elected to the New Brunswick Legislature

    Brenda Robertson became the first woman elected to the New Brunswick legislature.

  160. January 01, 1969

    Indigenous peoples 

    First Nations Gain Right to Vote in Québec

    Status Indians in Québec were granted the right to vote in provincial elections.

  161. November 28, 1969


    Montréal Women Take to the Streets

    Two hundred women, many wrapped in chains, sat down on Montréal’s Saint-Laurent Boulevard. The women were protesting the city’s recent ban on public protests and were the first group to do so. Hundreds of police met the women and 165 were arrested. The protest was over in less than an hour.

  162. December 01, 1969


    Québec Women’s Liberation Front Established

    The Québec Women’s Liberation Front (FLF) was formed in Montréal after 165 women were arrested during a protest. Taking its name from the FLQ, its membership was made up of anglophone and francophone women. The group wanted to establish a revolutionary feminist movement. The FLF manifesto was published in 1971.

  163. January 01, 1970


    Voting Age is Lowered to 18

    Parliament passes legislation lowering the federal voting age from 21 to 18. This adds two million Canadians to the electoral rolls.

  164. May 11, 1970


    First Woman Elected to the PEI Legislature

    Jean Canfield became the first woman elected to the Prince Edward Island legislature.

  165. December 21, 1970


    First Woman Elected to the Northwest Territories Council

    Lena Pedersen became the first woman elected to the Northwest Territories Council.

  166. January 01, 1971

    Indigenous peoples 

    Ontario Native Women’s Association Established

    The Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA), a non-profit organization, was established. Working to empower Aboriginal women, the ONWA aims to build connections with government in the fight for equality and ensure the preservation of culture and heritage. Noted Aboriginal women’s activist Jeannette Lavell was a founding ONWA member.

  167. January 01, 1971


    Québec’s First Socialist Feminist Journal Debuts

    Québécoises deboutte! [Québec women, stand up!], Québec’s first socialist feminist journal began publication. The journal emerged from the Québec Women’s Liberation Front, a radical feminist organization. Québécoises deboutte! was among the women’s liberation movement’s earliest publications. It ceased in 1974. (See Women’s Movement.)

  168. January 01, 1972

    Indigenous peoples 

    Indian Rights for Indian Women Established

    Indian Rights for Indian Women, an organization with a nation-wide scope, was established in Alberta. After meeting with Aboriginal women’s activist Mary Two-Axe Earley, First Nations women in Alberta began to organize opposition to the discriminatory Indian Act. Two-Axe Earley was the group’s vice president for several years.

  169. August 30, 1972

    Black Canadians 

    Rosemary Brown Elected the First Black Female MLA

    Politician Rosemary Brown became Canada's first Black woman member of a provincial legislature when she won a seat in BC's general election as a member of the NDP.

  170. January 01, 1973


    Government of Québec Creates Council on the Status of Women

    The Québec government established the Council on the Status of Women. Created during the women’s liberation movement, and as a consequence of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada, the Council fosters, protects and consults on women’s rights and interests in Québec.

  171. August 27, 1973

    Indigenous peoples 

    Supreme Court Rejects Equal Status for First Nations Women Married to Non-Aboriginals

    The Supreme Court ruled that the Canadian Bill of Rights did not apply to the Indian Act section that determined Aboriginal women married to non-Status Indians lost their Indian status. Activist Jeannette Lavell challenged the Indian Act claiming it discriminated on the basis of sex, a Bill of Rights violation (see Lavell Case).

  172. January 01, 1974

    Indigenous peoples 

    Quebec Native Women Inc. Established

    Québec Native Women Inc. (QNW) was founded. The bilingual QNW represents Indigenous women from Quebec. Working to achieve equal rights for all Aboriginal women, the QNW promotes issues such as non-violence and justice. It is a member organization of the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

  173. August 22, 1974

    Indigenous peoples 

    First Assembly of the Native Women’s Association of Canada

    The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) convened its first assembly. The NWAC, a non-profit organization, brought together 13 Aboriginal women’s groups from across Canada. It represents mainly First Nations and Métis women, with the aim to achieve equal opportunities and influence policy initiatives impacting its members.

  174. July 07, 1975

    Black Canadians 

    Brown Defeated in NDP Leadership Race

    Rosemary Brown ran for the leadership of the federal NDP, finishing a close second to Ed Broadbent, and ahead of three other candidates. She was the first Black woman to seek the leadership of a federal party and only the second woman to do so.

  175. January 20, 1979


    First Female Territorial Commissioner

    Ione Christensen became the first female territorial commissioner (Yukon).

  176. July 19, 1979

    Indigenous peoples 

    “Indian Women’s March” Protests the Indian Act

    Twenty-eight women from the Tobique First Nation’s women’s group organized a 160 km walk from the Oka Reserve in Québec to Ottawa. They aimed to bring national attention to gender discrimination in the Indian Act.

  177. September 21, 1979


    First Minister of State for the Status of Women

    Lise Payette became the first Minister of State for the Status of Women.

  178. January 01, 1980

    Asian Canadians 

    Chinese Canadian National Council for Equality Created

    The Chinese Canadian National Council for Equality was established to “safeguard the dignity and equality of all Chinese Canadians and other ethnic groups in this country.” The council was organized after protest grew among Chinese Canadian communities concerning the overt racism in the W5 story, “Campus Giveaway.”

  179. July 30, 1981

    Indigenous peoples 

    UNHRC Decision Highlights Indian Act Discrimination

    The United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) presented its decision on the Lovelace case. Sandra Lovelace, of the Maliseet First Nation, argued that losing her Indian Status after marrying a non-Status Indian was discriminatory. The UNHRC declared Lovelace’s status loss tantamount to cultural interference.

  180. January 01, 1984

    Black Canadians 

    Lewis Elected Mayor of Annapolis Royal

    Daurene Lewis, a descendant of Black Loyalists, was elected Mayor of the Nova Scotia town of Annapolis Royal and became the first Black female mayor in North America.

  181. January 13, 1984

    Black Canadians 

    Anne Cools Appointed to the Senate

    Anne Cools was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. She was the first Black Canadian to serve in the Upper Chamber, and the first Black female senator in North America. Born in Barbados, Cools moved to Canada at 13, and before her appointment to the Senate was active in social work and anti-racism movements.

  182. March 30, 1984

    Indigenous peoples 

    Pauktuutit, the Inuit Women’s Association, Established

    The Inuit Women’s Association, known as Pauktuutit, was incorporated. The national organization seeks to represent the needs of Inuit women, advocating on their behalf in federal policy initiatives. These include social justice issues such as violence against women, and health issues such as promoting traditional midwifery practices.

  183. May 14, 1984

    Jeanne Sauvé, former Governor General


    First Female Governor General

    Jeanne-Mathilde Sauvé, a journalist and politician, was sworn in as the first female Governor General of Canada.

  184. August 15, 1984


    Federal Election Debate on Women's Issues

    The first and only televised federal debate on women’s issues took place in Toronto, where an estimated 2,000 women lined up outside the Royal York Hotel to gain entry. The debate was organized by the National Action Committee on the Status of Women and included the leaders of the three major political parties.

  185. June 17, 1985

    Indigenous peoples 

    Bill C-31, An Act to Amend the Indian Act, Passed

    Since the mid-1800s the status of women had been tied to that of their husbands. Therefore, if a Status Indian woman married a non-Status Indian man, she would lose her status and if a non-Status Indian woman married a Status Indian man, she would acquire status. Bill C-31 removed these discriminatory provisions.

  186. November 21, 1988

    Indigenous peoples 

    First Indigenous Woman Elected to Federal Government

    Ethel Dorothy Blondin-Andrew, member of the Dene Nation, became the first Indigenous woman elected to the House of Commons.

  187. December 02, 1989


    McLaughlin Elected as First Female Party Leader in Canada

    Yukon MP Audrey McLaughlin was chosen leader of the NDP at a national convention in Winnipeg, succeeding Ed Broadbent. She was the first woman to lead a national Canadian political party. She spent six years as leader before stepping down in 1995 after the NDP fell to nine seats in the 1993 general election and lost its official party status.

  188. October 01, 1990

    Black Canadians 

    Akande Appointed to Ontario Cabinet

    Zanana L. Akande was appointed Minister of Community and Social Services of Ontario, making her the first Black woman in Canada to hold a Cabinet position.

  189. April 02, 1991

    British Columbia 

    Rita Johnston Becomes Canada's First Female Premier

    Social Credit leader Rita Johnston was sworn in as BC's 29th premier, subsequently becoming both Canada and BC's first female premier.

  190. November 14, 1991

    Indigenous peoples 

    Cournoyea Elected Premier of NWT

    Nellie J. Cournoyea, of Inupiaq heritage, was elected premier of the Northwest Territories, making her the first Indigenous woman to hold the position of government leader.

  191. January 01, 1992

    Indigenous peoples 

    Métis Women’s National Council Formed

    The Métis Women’s National Council (MWNC) was established as an organization separate from the Métis National Council, which was formed in 1983. The MWNC aims to promote understanding of the traditional roles played by Métis women, and to raise awareness of socio-cultural issues impacting Métis women and their children.

  192. March 29, 1993

    Callbeck, Catherine


    First Woman Elected Premier of a Province

    Catherine Callbeck was the first woman to be elected premier when she won the election in Prince Edward Island.

  193. June 25, 1993

    Kim Campbell


    Kim Campbell Becomes First Female PM

    After Prime Minister Brian Mulroney resigned from politics, Kim Campbell was selected as the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and became Canada’s first female prime minister.

  194. October 25, 1993

    Black Canadians 

    Jean Augustine Elected to the House of Commons

    Jean Augustine became the first Black woman elected to the Parliament of Canada. Augustine was born in Grenada, and before her entry into politics, she was an elementary school principal and chair of the Metro Toronto Housing Authority. Augustine sponsored the bill that officially recognized Black History Month at the federal level in 1996.

  195. November 04, 1993

    Copps, Sheila


    First Female Deputy Prime Minister

    Sheila Copps was appointed minister of the Environment and deputy prime minister, making her the first woman to serve as deputy prime minister.

  196. May 28, 1996

    Asian Canadians 

    Chong and Kwan Elected

    Liberal Ida Chong and the NDP’s Jenny Kwan were elected and became British Columbia’s first Chinese Canadian Members of the Legislative Assembly.

  197. June 02, 1997

    Indigenous peoples 

    First Inuit MP Elected

    Liberal Nancy Karetak-Lindell was elected the first Member of Parliament for the newly-created riding of Nunavut, and became the first Inuit woman elected to the House of Commons.

  198. June 02, 1997

    Asian Canadians 

    Sophia Leung Elected

    Liberal candidate Sophia Leung was elected to the House of Commons to represent the riding of Vancouver Kingsway, making her the first Chinese Canadian woman to win federal office.

  199. November 26, 1997

    Indigenous peoples 

    First Métis Woman Appointed to Senate

    Thelma Chalifoux, an active member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, became the first Métis woman appointed to the Senate.

  200. March 24, 1998

    Black Canadians 

    Yvonne Atwell Elected to NS Legislative Assembly

    Yvonne Atwell, community development advocate and president of the African Canadian Caucus of Nova Scotia, became the first Black Nova Scotian woman elected to the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly.

  201. September 17, 1998

    Asian Canadians 

    Vivienne Poy Appointed to the Senate

    Vivienne Poy became the first Canadian of Asian descent to be appointed to the Senate. A historian, entrepreneur and fashion designer, Poy sponsored the Famous Five monument in Calgary and was instrumental in the designation of May as Asian Heritage Month.

  202. February 15, 1999


    First Woman Elected to the Nunavut Legislative Assembly

    Manitok Thompson became the first woman elected to the Nunavut Legislative Assembly.

  203. May 20, 1999

    Indigenous peoples 

    Off-Reserve Voting Rights

    The Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously to open Indigenous band elections to off-reserve band members, stating that excluding them violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

  204. October 07, 1999

    Asian Canadians 

    Adrienne Clarkson Sworn in as Governor General

    Adrienne Clarkson took office as Canada’s governor general. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s appointment of Clarkson marked several "firsts" in the selection of Canada's governor general: she was the first without a military background and the first non-white Canadian to be appointed to the vice-regal position.

  205. April 17, 2000


    First Female Premier of the Yukon

    Patricia (Pat) Duncan became the Yukon’s first female premier at the head of the territory’s first Liberal government.

  206. January 01, 2002

    Black Canadians 

    Jean Augustine Appointed to Cabinet

    Jean Augustine, the first Black woman elected to Parliament, became Canada’s first Black female Cabinet minister when Jean Chrétien appointed her Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women.

  207. June 28, 2004

    Asian Canadians 

    Bev Oda Elected to Parliament

    Bev Oda became the first Japanese Canadian Member of Parliament, when she was elected as the representative for Durham, Ontario.

  208. September 21, 2005

    Indigenous peoples 

    First Female First Nations Senator Appointed

    Sandra Lovelace Nicholas, a Maliseet woman from the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, became the first First Nations woman appointed to the Senate.

  209. September 27, 2005

    Black Canadians 

    Michaëlle Jean Sworn in as Governor General

    Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Michaëlle Jean became the first Black person to serve as Governor General of Canada.

  210. January 01, 2006


    NDP Caucus 41 Per Cent Female

    Jack Layton’s New Democratic Party caucus was made up of 41 per cent women, the highest ever percentage for a federal party at that time.

  211. April 18, 2007


    Gender-Balanced Cabinet in Québec

    Jean Charest, Liberal Premier of Québec, appointed a Cabinet made up of nine men and nine women, with many women appointed to senior positions. It was the first gender-balanced Cabinet in Canada.

  212. April 18, 2007

    Black Canadians 

    Yolande James Sworn in as Cabinet Minister

    Yolande James, the first Black woman elected to the National Assembly of Québec, was appointed to the Immigration and Cultural Communities portfolio, making her the first Black Cabinet minister in Québec.

  213. September 17, 2007

    Asian Canadians 

    Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac Elected

    Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac became the first Canadian of Vietnamese origin elected to the House of Commons, representing Saint-Hyacinthe–Bagot, Québec, for the Bloc Québécois.

  214. October 30, 2008

    Indigenous peoples 

    First Inuit Federal Cabinet Minister

    Leona Aglukkaq was appointed Minister of Health, making her the first Inuk to serve as a senior federal cabinet minister.

  215. November 14, 2008


    Aariak Becomes First Female Premier of Nunavut

    Eva Aariak, the MLA for Iqaluit East and Nunavut's former languages commissioner, defeated Paul Okalik to become Nunavut’s second premier and the territory’s first female premier. She was, however, the only woman in the legislature.

  216. December 03, 2010


    First Female Premier of NL

    Following the retirement of Premier Danny Williams, Kathy Dunderdale was appointed interim leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and became Newfoundland and Labrador’s first female premier.

  217. October 02, 2011


    Alison Redford Becomes Alberta’s First Female Premier

    Alison Redford was elected leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party after Ed Stelmach’s resignation, making her the province’s first female premier. Redford led her party to victory in the 2012 provincial election.

  218. September 04, 2012


    First Female Premier of Québec

    Pauline Marois led the Parti Québécois to a minority government, becoming Québec’s first female premier.

  219. February 11, 2013

    Kathleen Wynne


    First Female and LGBTQ Premier of Ontario

    Kathleen Wynne was sworn in as Ontario’s twenty-ninth premier, making her the province’s first female and the first LGBTQ premier.

  220. October 04, 2015

    Indigenous peoples 

    REDress Project Calls for Donations

    The REDress Project, an art installation commemorating Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous  women, asked for the donation of red dresses, and for Canadians to hang their own. Métis artist Jaime Black initiated the project, which has displayed hundreds of red dresses in public spaces such as the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

  221. October 19, 2015


    Record Number of Women Elected Federally

    Eighty-eight women were elected in the 2015 federal election, the highest number to date. Women made up 33 per cent of the candidates in the five leading parties, and won 26 per cent of the seats in the House.

  222. November 04, 2015


    First Gender-Balanced Federal Cabinet

    Newly elected prime minister Justin Trudeau appointed 15 women to his 30-member Cabinet the first time in Canadian history that a federal Cabinet included an equal number of men and women.

  223. March 24, 2016

    Marie-Claire Kirkland-Casgrain, 1961.


    Death of Claire Kirkland-Casgrain

    Claire Kirkland-Casgrain, the first woman elected to Québec’s National Assembly, died at age 91. Kirkland-Casgrain left her mark on the province’s political history in 1964 by spearheading the passage of Bill 16, which improved the legal status of married women. For more than 12 years, she was the only woman to sit as a member of the National Assembly among some 100 male colleagues. In 1985, she was named a Knight of the National Order of Québec, and in 1992, she was made a Member of the Order of Canada.

  224. January 10, 2017


    Karina Gould Becomes Youngest Female Cabinet Minister

    Karina Gould, the member of Parliament for Burlington, Ontario, was named minister of Democratic Institutions in the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and tasked with overseeing the electoral reform file. At age 29, she became the youngest woman ever to serve as a federal Cabinet minister. Gould’s election to Parliament in 2015 marked the end of a nine-year Conservative hold on the riding of Burlington. (See also Women in Politics.)

  225. November 05, 2017

    Montréal at dawn


    Valérie Plante, 1st woman mayor of Montreal

    Voters elected community organizer and city councillor Valérie Plante as Montréal’s first woman mayor.