“When the history of suffrage is written, the role played by our politicians will cut a sad figure beside that of the women they insulted.” Speaking in 1935, feminist Idola Saint-Jean captured the bitter nature of Quebec women’s fight for enfranchisement, as religious authorities weighed what they stood to gain or lose and politicians showed open disdain during debates in the Legislative Assembly.
Most Canadian women had gained the right to vote by the end of the First World War, but women in Quebec had to wait until 1940 or longer to cast a ballot in their own province. This passionate yet even-handed account retraces the journey from the infancy of democracy in Lower Canada to the Women’s Suffrage Act in 1940 and beyond. It examines the influence of the Quebec national question on women’s struggle for the right to vote, and looks beyond national borders to compare their efforts with those in Europe and the United States.
This astute exploration of resistance and momentum toward women’s suffrage in Quebec treats enfranchisement – and the legal, social, and economic rights that stem from it – as a fundamental question of human rights.
To Be Equals in Our Own Country is the third volume in a seven-part series on the history of the vote in Canada. The Women’s Suffrage and the Struggle for Democracy series serves as a timely reminder not to take political rights for granted.
As the first overview of developments leading to Quebec women’s suffrage, this book will have broad appeal to Canadian readers interested in their own history, as well as to students and scholars of women’s history and political history.
Denyse Baillargeon invites us to do far more than rediscover the triumphant campaigns for women’s right to vote in Quebec: she offers readers a nuanced understanding of what drove many to fight for this right, and others to resist it. Just when you think you know it all, you find out there’s more to learn!
An original and comprehensive history of women’s diverse struggles leading up to and following the fight for suffrage in Quebec told with skill and clarity.
Baillargeon’s brilliant synthesis of the suffrage movement in Quebec is an essential introduction to one of the most influential social movements in Canadian history.
1 Pioneers of Suffrage
2 Giving Women a Voice
3 Broadening the Struggle
4 Winning the Provincial Franchise
5 Reaching for Representation
Sources and Further Reading
The Representation of Women in Canadian Governments
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