Women's Suffrage

Votes for Women: Speaking on Suffrage


  • In the late Victorian era women were seen as gentle creatures who should not exert themselves mentally or physically. It could hurt their ability to have children.
  • Women did not have the vote in this period because they were seen as far too emotional.
  • Suffrage is the right to vote.
  • The women who supported suffrage were known as suffragettes.
  • There were both men and women who supported suffrage and both men and women who opposed it.
  • Women who supported suffrage usually also supported Prohibition.
    • Prohibition was the banning of alcohol.
  • They were generally motivated by a desire to protect their families rather than a desire for women's rights.
    • This was called maternal feminism.
  • The most prominent opponent of suffrage in Manitoba was Rodmond Roblin. He was mocked mercilessly by Nellie McClung.
  • It was granted to women in Canada between 1916 and 1940.
    • Manitoba was the first province to give women the vote in 1916.
    • Quebec was the last province to give women the vote.
    • The federal vote was granted to some women in 1917 and all women 1918.
  • The "Persons Case" was a court challenge launched by Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, and Henrietta Muir Edwards.
    • Women had been denied appointment to the Senate because it was believed that,in a legal sense, women were not persons and only legal person could become Senators.
    • The Supreme Court of Canada agreed that women were NOT persons.
    • In October 1929 the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Britain (or JCPC) decided that women were indeed persons and thus eligible to serve as Senators.
      • The first female senator was Cairine Wilson, appointed to the Senate in 1930.


It is the early twentieth century somewhere out on the Canadian Prairies. You are a politician “on the hustings” Your job is to deliver a speech to the crowd in front of you. The voters in front of you want to know how you stand on the issue of women voting.

The politicians at the time would have used a combination of logic, emotion, and Biblical quotes (and misquotes) to urge the crowd to vote for them.

Your job is to deliver an impassioned speech, either for or against women having the right to vote.

You will be marked on several things.

  1. Does your speech have a logical argument?
  2. Does your speech have an emotional argument? Is it exciting? Is it delivered just by reading from your notes? (I hope not.)
  3. Does your speech actually come out and ask the voters to vote a certain way?
  4. Does your speech make historical sense? (In other words, do you talk about women becoming pilots, or men being rocket scientists? I hope not, because these things wouldn’t be possible in the 19-teens.)
  5. Since most of the supporters (and opponents) of women voting at the time were Christians, what Christian arguments do you think they used? Can you make sure that at least one is in your speech? (Keep in mind, it may not be an argument that you agree with.)

You will have a class or two to prepare and practice your speech. Then you’ll get to deliver it to the class.


  1. Online Bible
  2. Quotes by the Famous Five
  3. Biographies
  4. "Give us our due"
  5. Suffrage in Saskatachewan
  6. Women and the Federal Vote
  7. The Play
  8. What does a woman earn?
  9. What should women do after the war?
  10. Arguments on suffrage
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