Women's Suffrage in Atlantic Canada

“Votes for Women” pennant

January 01, 1836

Prince Edward Island 

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

New Brunswick 

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.

April 07, 1851

Nova Scotia 

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.

January 01, 1884

Nova Scotia 

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 Another attempt to get the municipal vote was passed in 1887, though school board service was revoked.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, 1886

New Brunswick 

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.

March 18, 1891

Newfoundland and Labrador 

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.

April 04, 1894

New Brunswick 

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.

February 27, 1895

New Brunswick 

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

Nova Scotia 

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.

January 01, 1896

New Brunswick 

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.

December 01, 1909

Newfoundland and Labrador 

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 15, 1912

New Brunswick 

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.

January 31, 1918

Nova Scotia 

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.

April 26, 1918

Nova Scotia 

Nova Scotia Women Get Vote

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

April 17, 1919

New Brunswick 

New Brunswick Women Get Vote

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

May 20, 1920

Newfoundland and Labrador 

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.

May 03, 1922

Prince Edward Island 

PEI Women Get Vote

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

April 03, 1925

Newfoundland and Labrador 

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.

May 17, 1930

Newfoundland and Labrador 

First Woman Elected to the NL House of Assembly

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

March 09, 1934

McClung, Murphy and Jamieson

New Brunswick 

NB Women Gain Right to Hold Office

New Brunswick women won the right to hold provincial office.

June 07, 1960

Nova Scotia 

First Woman Elected to the Nova Scotia Legislature

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

January 01, 1963

New Brunswick 

First Nations Gain Right to Vote in New Brunswick

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

October 23, 1967

New Brunswick 

First Woman Elected to the New Brunswick Legislature

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

May 11, 1970

Prince Edward Island 

First Woman Elected to the PEI Legislature

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

March 29, 1993

Callbeck, Catherine

Prince Edward Island 

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.

December 03, 2010

Newfoundland and Labrador 

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.