timeline

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

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.

June 11, 1792

Québec 

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.

January 01, 1832

National 

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.

January 01, 1834

Québec 

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.

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.

January 01, 1836

Atlantic 

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.

January 01, 1843

Atlantic 

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.

January 01, 1844

Ontario 

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.

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.

April 07, 1851

Atlantic 

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.

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.

September 18, 1861

Ontario 

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.

January 01, 1867

National 

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.

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.

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.

January 01, 1874

National 

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.

November 01, 1876

Ontario 

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.

January 01, 1882

Ontario 

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.

January 01, 1883

Ontario 

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.

March 01, 1883

National 

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.

January 01, 1884

Atlantic 

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.

January 01, 1884

Ontario 

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.

January 01, 1885

National 

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.

January 01, 1885

Ontario 

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.

January 01, 1885

National 

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.

January 01, 1885

Prairies 

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.

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.

January 01, 1886

Atlantic 

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.

January 01, 1887

Prairies 

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.

January 01, 1889

Ontario 

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.

February 01, 1889

National 

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.

January 01, 1890

Prairies 

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.

October 01, 1890

Ontario 

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.

March 18, 1891

Atlantic 

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.

January 01, 1893

Québec 

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.

January 01, 1893

Prairies 

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.

February 09, 1893

Prairies 

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.

October 27, 1893

National 

National Council of Women Meet

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

April 04, 1894

Atlantic 

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.

November 01, 1894

Prairies 

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.

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.

February 27, 1895

Atlantic 

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.”

March 01, 1895

Atlantic 

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.

May 08, 1895

National 

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.

January 01, 1896

Atlantic 

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.

February 18, 1896

Ontario 

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.

July 10, 1896

Québec 

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.

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.

January 01, 1903

National 

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.

January 01, 1904

National 

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.

January 01, 1904

Prairies 

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.

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.

May 01, 1907

Québec 

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.

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.

January 01, 1908

Asian Canadians 

Chinese Canadians in Saskatchewan Disenfranchised

The province of Saskatchewan passed a law disenfranchising Chinese Canadians.

February 10, 1908

Atlantic 

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.

March 01, 1909

Ontario 

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.’”

June 24, 1909

Ontario 

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.

October 23, 1909

Ontario 

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.

December 01, 1909

Atlantic 

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.

January 01, 1910

National 

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.

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.

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.

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.

March 04, 1911

Ontario 

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.

January 01, 1912

Prairies 

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.

January 15, 1912

Atlantic 

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.

June 01, 1912

Prairies 

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.

August 28, 1912

National 

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.”

November 04, 1912

Québec 

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.”

December 23, 1912

National 

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.

January 01, 1913

Prairies 

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.

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.

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.

March 03, 1913

National 

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.

April 24, 1913

Québec 

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.

January 01, 1914

National 

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.

January 01, 1914

Prairies 

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.’”

January 27, 1914

Prairies 

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.

January 28, 1914

Prairies 

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.

February 01, 1915

Prairies 

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.

February 26, 1915

Prairies 

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.

March 01, 1915

Prairies 

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.

December 23, 1915

Prairies 

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.

January 28, 1916

Prairies 

Manitoba Women Get Vote

Manitoba women who were of British descent or citizenship, 21 or older, and not otherwise disqualified were given the right to vote provincially and to hold provincial office.

March 14, 1916

Prairies 

Saskatchewan Women Get Vote

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

April 19, 1916

Prairies 

Alberta Women Get Vote

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

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.

April 05, 1917

British Columbia 

BC Women Get Vote

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

April 12, 1917

Ontario 

Women Get Vote in Ontario

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

June 07, 1917

Prairies 

First Elected Women

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

September 20, 1917

National 

Wartime Elections Act

Parliament passed the Wartime Elections Act. The federal vote was extended to women in the armed forces, and to female relatives of military men, while disenfranchising citizens of "enemy alien" birth.

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.

January 01, 1918

National 

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.

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.

January 31, 1918

Atlantic 

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.

February 28, 1918

National 

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.

April 26, 1918

Atlantic 

Nova Scotia Women Get Vote

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

April 17, 1919

Atlantic 

New Brunswick Women Get Vote

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

May 20, 1919

Prairies 

Yukon Women Get Vote

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

July 01, 1919

National 

Women Gain Right to Hold Office

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

July 29, 1919

Prairies 

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.

February 26, 1920

Indigenous peoples 

Indian Act Amendment Allows for Forced Enfranchisement of Status Indians

The Indian Act was 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.

May 20, 1920

Atlantic 

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.

June 29, 1920

Prairies 

First Woman Elected to Manitoba Legislature

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

July 01, 1920

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.

January 01, 1921

Québec 

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.

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.”

July 18, 1921

Prairies 

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.

February 09, 1922

Québec 

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.

May 03, 1922

Atlantic 

PEI Women Get Vote

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

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.

April 03, 1925

Atlantic 

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.

April 13, 1925

Atlantic 

Newfoundland Women Get Vote

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

October 18, 1929

National 

Women Legally Persons

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

May 17, 1930

Atlantic 

First Woman Elected to the NL House of Assembly

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

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.

January 01, 1934

Indigenous peoples 

Dominion Franchise Act

The Dominion Franchise Act explicitly disqualified Inuit people and Status Indians from voting in federal elections, but made an exception for Status Indian veterans who had been granted the franchise in 1924.

March 09, 1934

Atlantic 

NB Women Gain Right to Hold Office

New Brunswick women won the right to hold provincial office.

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.

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.

April 25, 1940

Québec 

Québec Women Get Vote

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

August 04, 1943

Ontario 

First Women Elected to Ontario Legislature

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

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.

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.

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, but ignored Indigenous peoples and Japanese Canadians.

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.

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.

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.

April 01, 1949

Asian Canadians 

Japanese Canadians Enfranchised

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

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.

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.

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.

June 12, 1951

Prairies 

Northwest Territories Women Get Vote

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

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.

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.

June 21, 1957

National 

Fairclough First Minister

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

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.

June 07, 1960

Atlantic 

First Woman Elected to the Nova Scotia Legislature

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

July 01, 1960

Indigenous peoples 

Right to Vote for Status Indians

Canadian Status Indians obtained the right to vote in federal elections.

January 14, 1961

Indigenous peoples 

Guerin First Woman Chief

Gertrude Guerin became the first woman elected chief of the Musqueam Indian Band, who reside on the north shore of BC’s Fraser River.

December 14, 1961

Québec 

First Woman Elected to the National Assembly of Québec

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

January 01, 1963

National 

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.

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.

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.

June 18, 1964

Québec 

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.

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.

May 25, 1966

Prairies 

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.”

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 Aboriginal women married to non-Status Indians. ERIW faced strong resistance from male leaders in First Nations communities.

September 09, 1967

National 

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.

September 11, 1967

Prairies 

First Woman Elected to the Yukon Territorial Council

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

October 23, 1967

Atlantic 

First Woman Elected to the New Brunswick Legislature

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

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.

November 28, 1969

Québec 

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.

December 01, 1969

Québec 

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.

May 11, 1970

Atlantic 

First Woman Elected to the PEI Legislature

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

December 21, 1970

Prairies 

First Woman Elected to the Northwest Territories Council

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

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.

January 01, 1971

Québec 

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.)

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.

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.

January 01, 1973

Québec 

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.

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).

January 01, 1974

Indigenous peoples 

Québec Native Women Inc. Established

Québec Native Women Inc. (QNW) was founded. The bilingual QNW represents Aboriginal women from Québec. 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.

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.

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.

January 20, 1979

Prairies 

First Female Territorial Commissioner

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

July 19, 1979

Indigenous peoples 

“Indian Women’s March” Protests the Indian Act

Twenty-eight Aboriginal 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.

September 21, 1979

National 

First Minister of State for the Status of Women

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

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

May 14, 1984

National 

First Female Governor General

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

August 15, 1984

National 

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.

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.

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.

December 02, 1989

National 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

August 16, 1992

Indigenous peoples 

Gros-Louis Elected Grand Chief

The Huron-Wendat Nation of Wendake (located near Québec City) elected Jocelyne Gros-Louis as Grand Chief. She was the first woman to be named as the leader of a First Nation in Canada.

March 29, 1993

Atlantic 

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.

June 25, 1993

National 

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.

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.

November 04, 1993

National 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. Born in Hong Kong, Poy was a historian, entrepreneur and fashion designer. During her time in the Senate, Poy sponsored the Famous Five monument in Calgary and was instrumental in the designation of May as Asian Heritage Month.

February 15, 1999

Prairies 

First Woman Elected to the Nunavut Legislative Assembly

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

May 20, 1999

Indigenous peoples 

Off-Reserve Voting Rights

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

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 appointed Clarkson marking 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.

April 17, 2000

Prairies 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

January 01, 2006

National 

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.

April 18, 2007

Québec 

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.

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.

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.

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.

November 14, 2008

Prairies 

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.

December 03, 2010

Atlantic 

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.

October 02, 2011

Prairies 

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.

September 04, 2012

Québec 

First Female Premier of Québec

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

February 11, 2013

Ontario 

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.

October 04, 2015

Indigenous peoples 

REDress Project Calls for Donations

The REDress Project, an art installation commemorating Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal 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.

October 19, 2015

National 

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.

November 04, 2015

National 

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.

March 24, 2016

Québec 

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.

January 10, 2017

National 

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.)

November 05, 2017

Québec 

Valérie Plante, 1st woman mayor of Montreal

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