Due to a number of factors, between 1914 and 1917, the
female suffrage movement experienced rapid success in the
four Western provinces and Ontario. Out of the women's
associations formed in the late 19th century, emerged a
suffrage movement that continued to gain momentum until
women began to appear in the political and economic spheres.
Combined with the moral and social atmosphere that developed
during the First World War, women stepping into positions
vacated by servicemen, expanding their role in the
community, and politicians' growing awareness that their
position on female suffrage could swing the vote in an
election, worked together to speed the process of getting
women the vote to its inevitable conclusion.
The men and women who belonged to suffrage societies
tended to be members of the Anglo-Saxon Protestant
middle-class. The leaders of these societies generally were
highly educated professionals, or leaders of the Social
Gospel Movement, and their goals tended toward the
preservation of British essence and heritage in Canada.
Nevertheless, the suffrage movement in Canada, with its
emphasis on the virtues of motherhood and its general
interest in strengthening the family—and thereby improving
society—appealed to the larger reform movement within the
Female suffrage was largely seen as a means to an end,
not an end in itself. To reformers, female suffrage was a
means of achieving other social reforms—like prohibition,
applied Christianity, child welfare, purity reform, and
civic and education reform. To farm and labour groups, female
suffrage was a means of increasing their political clout,
and to politicians, adopting the suffrage cause was seen as
a means of obtaining or maintaining political power.
||This one-minute vignette shows
the beginnings of the women's suffrage movement in
Canada, culminating with women receiving the vote.