Manitoba Women First Granted Suffrage a Century Ago


Nellie McClung, a prominent suffragette.

Almost a century ago, women in Manitoba were granted the right to vote. This unprecedented action sparked change on the federal level when women were given the right to vote nationwide in 1919. Women of colour did not get the right to vote until the late 1940s and Indigenous women did not get the right to vote until 1960.

The suffragette movement at the time was fragmented and full of conflicting opinions. Some women rallied for temperance because they believe that alcohol destroyed families and led men to withhold money from their families and beat their wives. Some unions and farmer’s groups supported women’s suffrage as well.

Notable members of the Political Equality League included Nellie McClung, Cora Hind and Lillian Beynon Thomas as well as many other activists.

The women created a stir when they performed a provocative play at the Walker Theatre in Winnipeg. They parodied Manitoba Premier Rodmond Roblin, and acted out a parallel world where women had all the power. Roblin’s government was voted out the following year and the Liberal government granted Manitoba women the right to vote.


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