Lady Aberdeen on the role of women, November 1894

Lady Ishbel Aberdeen, wife of Canada's governor-general, was an early feministLady Ishbel Maria Gordon, Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair, was the spouse of Lord Aberdeen, Canada’s governor general from 1893–98. She was a strong and impressive woman with many interests, a staunch democrat with a social conscience. She created the Victorian Order of Nurses in Canada, and she believed that women had a significant role to play in society. She was also instrumental in creating the National Council of Women, an endeavour that was opposed fiercely by conservative commentators and newspapers. In her address to the founding meeting of the Local Council of Women in Victoria, Lady Aberdeen accepted the Victorian concept that the primary role of women was as wives, mothers, and guardians of the social order, but she deftly pushed the existing boundaries.

“A golden link uniting women in bonds of sisterhood” Continue reading Lady Aberdeen on the role of women, November 1894

Nellie McClung on women and the vote, January 1914

Women received the vote in Manitoba in January 1916 and it did not happen by accident.  Nellie McClung and others were forced to take an overtly political route to get there. McClung was well known in western Canada as a writer and an activist for women’s rights. On 27 January 1914, Manitoba Premier Rodmond Roblin and members of the legislature met with McClung and a delegation of several hundred from the Political Equality League, which was seeking the vote for women. Roblin treated them condescendingly, and flatly refused them, saying, “I believe woman suffrage would break up the home and send women to mix up in political meetings.” The following evening McClung and others turned that meeting into a piece of guerrilla theatre. McClung played the premier’s role and mimicked his inflated rhetoric in a mock speech which she made to a fictitious group of men appearing before women legislators asking for the right to vote.

“Man was made for something higher than voting” Continue reading Nellie McClung on women and the vote, January 1914