Explore posts on people and organizations!

Not Just “Rearranging the Furniture”[1]: Patricia Monture-Angus/Aye-wah-han-day (1958-2010) and the Search for Justice

by Veronica Strong-Boag

Pre-contact North America had many patterns of gender relations.  Some communities were matrilineal and many offered women sources of strength and power. The arrival of Europeans compromised and sometimes destroyed Indigenous traditions.  Through conquest, genocide, religion, and re-education, imperialists set out to impose patriarchal models of social and political organization.

Read the full post here!

From London Suffragette to Vancouver Suffragist: Helena Rose Gutteridge (1879-1960)

by Veronica Strong-Boag

Much like today’s women’s movements, the suffrage cause drew great strength from a world-wide constituency. Pioneers such as Britain’s Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928), the USA’s Harriot Stanton Blatch (1856-1940), and Canada’s Nellie L. McClung (1872-1951) toured well beyond their own nations and their words encouraged global sympathies. Women of all stations in life carried political loyalties with them as visitors and emigrants to other lands. Helena Rose Gutteridge was just such a dedicated transplant from London to the far flung shores of the British Empire in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Read the full post here!

Suffrage Voiceless Speeches

by Alison Strobel

Oratory was a common mode of expression deployed in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century US woman suffrage campaign, but during these years, women who spoke in public were thought to violate gender norms. By contrast, women who presented voiceless speeches, i.e. silently held or displayed placards that contained messages promoting their political agenda, were able to maintain social decorum while publically challenging gender norms. “A silent suffragist,” Jean Baker (2002) explains, would simply “stand in a shop window with a series of simple suffrage messages … displayed one-by-one to crowds who stopped to watch” (p. 167).

Read the full post here!

Woman suffrage, eugenics, and eugenic feminism in Canada

by Cecily Devereux

The relationship of suffragism to the eugenics movement is certainly one of the most complicated and contentious aspects of the achievement of the vote for women in Canada. Many of the principles and people associated with suffragism are also associated with the ideas of the science of “race improvement” that had been named “eugenics” by Francis Galton in 1883. Galton (1822-1911), a half-cousin of Charles Darwin and a British scholar and explorer across a range of areas of study, was also a “proto-geneticist” whose writing on making “better” humans through controlled breeding provided the ground for a movement not only in Britain and the British Empire but, through the first quarter of the twentieth century, in many countries around the world. It is thus possible to make reference to a “eugenics movement” that is both nationally specific in its development and global in its spread.

Read the full post here!

Armine Nutting Gosling (1861-1942) and “The Counsel of Responsible Women”: The Suffragists of Newfoundland and Labrador

by Tiffany Johnstone

While most women in Canada won the right to vote at the federal level in 1918 and to run as candidates in federal elections in 1920, the struggle for suffrage was more complicated in the province of Quebec and in what was then the dominion of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL).  Quebec women had to wait 15 years before winning the right to vote provincially in 1940.  Newfoundland and Labrador, which did not join Canada until 1949, granted women the right to vote and run for office in 1925.  Religious conservatism, entrenched class-based social inequalities, and a strong cultural emphasis on traditional gender roles seem to have posed particular obstacles to suffrage in Quebec and NL.  The story in NL is remarkable considering the number of challenges and the public opposition suffragists faced at the time.

Read the full post here!

“If a man preferred to work”: Prince Edward Island’s Statute Labour Franchise in the Era of Responsible Government

by Colin Grittner

Like every other British North American colony, Prince Edward Island had employed the 40 shilling freehold franchise during the early-nineteenth century.  So long as a person owned 40 shillings worth of real estate on the Island, that person had the privilege of voting in colonial elections.  After PEI formally disenfranchised women in 1836, these property-owning voters also had to be male (Garner, 155).  This codification of patriarchy meant that the Island’s several “lady landlords” found themselves without a formal political voice despite the land they owned (Bittermann and McCallum, 7-8).

Read the full post here!

The Daughter of the Red Land—Madame Yan Li

by Huai Bao

A veteran of twenty-five years in Canada, a professor, novelist, literary prize winner, recipient of many awards and grants, and a finalist for Books in Canada’s First Novel Award, Madame Yan Li (1955-) is certainly not an ordinary woman. She has been called the “Jane Eyre of China” by readers and fans due to her inspirational life experiences—a “dreams-come-true” process of struggling for self-actualization (Zhao, 2012). Her novels also offer points of entry for understanding the relationship between female immigrants and Canadian feminism and between immigrants and the promise of Canadian democracy.

Read the full post here!

East Van Writes Back: Vancouver’s People’s Co-op Bookstore

by Tiffany Johnstone

Established in 1945, the People’s Co-op Bookstore (PCB) is a Vancouver landmark that epitomizes the ongoing value of independent bookstores in promoting grassroots activism, cultural literacy, and community.  The small, independent PCB, which is owned and run by members of a co-op, is the oldest bookstore in the city and has outlived many others that have yielded to industry pressures (Kronbauer) such as box-stores, online stores, and e-books (Shore).  The co-op, which sells a combination of used and new books, specializes in local authors and activism.  It is committed to functioning as a community-based source of information by and for the people that counters the conservative political and corporate biases of the mainstream media.

Read the full post here!

Women and the Provincial Vote in Nineteenth-Century British North America

by Colin Grittner

When one picks up a Canadian history textbook, the year 1916 usually receives special emphasis.  And so it should.  In 1916, Manitoba became the first province in Canadian history to grant women the right to vote.

If one flips backward through the textbook, the year 1851 will not feature so prominently.  British North America, as it was called, still only consisted of four sparsely populated colonies.  The Province of Canada (present-day Ontario and Quebec), Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island had only recently received their legislative independence.  New Brunswick would still have to wait a few more years for responsible government.  To the west, the Hudson’s Bay Company still laid claim to much of the land despite its First Nations majority.

Read the full post here!