One Hundred Years of Struggle
328 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
35 b&w photos
Release Date:08 Mar 2019
Release Date:08 Mar 2018
Release Date:08 Mar 2018
Release Date:08 Mar 2018

One Hundred Years of Struggle

The History of Women and the Vote in Canada

UBC Press

The achievement of the vote in 1918 is often celebrated as a triumphant moment in the onward, upward advancement of Canadian women, a moment symbolized by famous suffragists such as Nellie McClung and famous events such as the Winnipeg Mock Parliament.

In One Hundred Years of Struggle, acclaimed historian Joan Sangster looks beyond the shiny rhetoric of anniversary celebrations and Heritage Minutes to show that the struggle for equality included gains and losses, inclusions and exclusions, depending on a woman’s race, class, and location in the nation.

Beginning with debates by anti-slavery advocate Mary Shadd Cary in the 1850s and ending with Indigenous women’s struggle to gain the vote in the 1950s and 1960s, Sangster travels back in time to tell a new, more inclusive story for a new generation.

The history of the vote, as Joan Sangster tells it, offers vital insights into our political life, exposing not only the fissures of inequality that cut deep into our country’s past but also their weaknesses in the face of resistance, optimism, and protest – an inspiring legacy that resonates to this day.

This book is for all Canadians who want to know more about our history, the history of women, and the state of our democratic traditions.


  • 2019, Shortlisted - Dafoe Book Prize Prize, The Dafoe Foundation
Joan Sangster's One Hundred Years of Struggle jolts us back into women's often grim historical reality, reminding us that the political rights that we often take for granted today were keenly opposed in years past. Susan Whitney, associate professor of history, Carleton University, Literary Review of Canada
Joan Sangster’s clear, concise, and lively treatment of the women’s suffrage movement in Canada provides a broad historical survey…One Hundred Years of Struggle succeeds remarkably well in presenting ideas in an accessible way without oversimplifying them. Barbara Messamore, University of the Fraser Valley, The Ormsby Review
Sangster’s honest analysis of the role that imperial and racist attitudes played (and continue to play) in the fight for women’s equal political participation offers a challenge to those who believe that struggles associated with women’s suffrage are entirely historical. Stephanie Milliken, THIS Magazine, March 2018
Now this is one of those books you need to read and you need to buy for others, especially now as women are facing watershed moments on many fronts. In this fantastic book, acclaimed historian Joan Sangster celebrates the 100th anniversary of Canadian women getting the vote not with rah, rah speeches and pleasantries, but with looks at the real warriors and the real struggles women faced … this comprehensive book truly reminds the reader of what determination and dedication can do. Dana Gee, Vancouver Sun
Under one cover, One Hundred Years brings together aspects of the story that have hitherto been scattered throughout the historiography and reflects the growing maturity of the field of women’s/gender history. Dianne Dodd, Parks Canada, Manitoba History Journal, Issue 88,
We have needed this book for a long time – a well-written, lively, and thoughtful account of women’s campaign for political equality. Sangster gives us the complexity of a highly regionalized movement fed by a wide range of ideologies, and she introduces us to a cast of extraordinary women who quietly pushed for radical change. Deep scholarship, no jargon – a book for all of us. Charlotte Gray, author of The Promise of Canada: 150 Years – People and Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country
Centenaries are worth celebrating, and Joan Sangster’s brilliant 100-year history of women’s suffrage provides a fitting occasion for pride. Sangster unveils the rich and diverse stories of the women (and men) whose activism pried the right to vote out of reluctant opponents. Along the way, she shakes up a multitude of misapprehensions. To read this is to be inspired. Constance Backhouse, author of Claire L’Heureux-Dubé: A Life
Joan Sangster is the author of numerous books and articles on the history of women in Canada, including Earning Respect: The Lives of Working Women in Small-Town Ontario, 1920–60, which won the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences’s Harold Adams Innis Prize. She is Vanier Professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and director of the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies at Trent University. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.


1 The Privilege of Property

2 Race and the Idea of Rights for Women

3 Suffrage as a Socialist Issue

4 Making Suffragists

5 The Anti-suffragists

6 Feminist Countercultures

7 Debating War and Peace

8 Old and New Agendas in Peacetime

9 Votes for All Women


Sources and Further Reading; Photo Credits; Index

Find what you’re looking for...
Stay Informed

Receive the latest UBC Press news, including events, catalogues, and announcements.

Read past newsletters

Free shipping on online orders over $40

Publishers Represented
UBC Press is the Canadian agent for several international publishers. Visit our Publishers Represented page to learn more.