From Left to Right
256 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:15 Jan 2017
Release Date:01 Jun 2016
Release Date:01 Jun 2016
Release Date:22 Jul 2016

From Left to Right

Maternalism and Women’s Political Activism in Postwar Canada

UBC Press

In From Left to Right, Brian Thorn explores what motivated Canadian women to become politically engaged in the 1940s and ’50s. Although women in these decades are often depicted as being trapped in the suburbs – caring for children, baking pies, and leaving politics to men – they joined diverse political parties, including the Social Credit Party, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, and the Communist Party of Canada.

Thorn argues, controversially, that while women on the left and right had different goals, their activism continued to be informed by maternalism. They used their roles as wives and mothers to influence their parties’ positions on war and unions, to break down barriers between the private and public spheres, and to push for a new world order. Along the way, they laid the foundations for the 1960s feminist movement.

This book will be of interest to students and scholars of Canadian history, women and gender studies, and political history.

By comparing the roles and efforts of women who belonged not only to left-wing parties but also to the right wing, Brian Thorn offers a new and useful perspective on women’s political activism during the postwar decades. Julie Guard, Labour Studies Program, University of Manitoba
Brian T. Thorn teaches English and history at Nipissing University. His scholarly articles dealing with Canadian political, labour, intellectual, and gender history have appeared in Left History, Histoire sociale/Social History, and Labour/Le Travail.


1 Women No Longer Need Fear Want or Illness: Women on the Left

2 Ladies, Let Us Hold High the Banner of Social Credit! Women on the Right

3 Peace Is the Concern of Every Mother: Communist and Social Democratic Women’s Anti-War Activism

4 Traveling Bags for Their Trip to Russia: Social Credit Women Campaign for Peace

5 The Well-Being of the Home Depends on the Well-Being of the Union: Women-Only Organizations

6 Healthy Activity and Worthwhile Ideas: Confronting Juvenile Delinquency


Appendix: Brief Biographies

Notes; Bibliography; Index

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