Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sampling of Provincial & Federal Legislation Affecting Women in Western Canada

Sampling of Provincial & Federal Legislation Affecting Women in Western Canada

• 1871 Manitoba, wife controls her property, but not her earnings, unless husband proved ‘unfit’.

• 1885 Manitoba, newly married woman must get a new certificate of title in her husband’s name for any property she owns. (Similar legislation, Alberta 1906)

• 1885 Manitoba, wife’s right to share of husband’s property (her dower right) abolished. Same provisions in North-west Territories, 1887. (Dower rights still recognized in Ontario & in British common law.)

• 1894 North-west Territories, unmarried women allowed municipal vote, but cannot hold office.

• 1900 Manitoba Married Woman’s Property Act, wife responsible for own property, wages & jointly responsible for children’s support.

• 1902 Manitoba, if husband dies intestate, wife allowed 1/3 of estate if children, or all, if no children. No legislative protection if husband had a will.

• 1915 Alberta, Married Woman’s Home Protection Act, wife can prevent sale of home site. Under federal naturalization legislation, new provision for wife's name to be on a certificate of naturalization granted to husband. (And, if her name appeared before 1947, she became a Canadian citizen 1 January, 1947, as long as she was not an alien on that date.

• 1918 Manitoba Dower Act, wife can stop transactions involving homestead, home & some property, even after husband’s death. Widow guaranteed 1/3 of husband’s estate no matter his will’s provisions.

• 1919 Canadian Naturalization Act, women who were British subjects could keep citizenship, if they married aliens.

• 1920 British Columbia, widow allowed to go to court for variation, if husband’s provisions for her in will are ‘inadequate’.

• 1921 Alberta, women may be called as jurors, except in criminal cases, but do not have to serve. However, a female defendant has a right to women on her jury.

• 1925 British Columbia, inheritance rules for men & women now same; surviving spouse given larger share of intestate’s estate. Federal divorce legislation changes - women could divorce on same grounds as men.

• 1929 British Privy Council rules Canadian women are ‘persons’ & thus entitled to act as judges & sit in the Canadian Senate. That date, October 18, 1929, is celebrated as 'Persons Day' in Canada.

• 1947 Canada Citizenship Act, married women given full authority over own citizenship status.

• Women’s Rights to Provincial & Federal Vote: first Manitoba, then Saskatchewan & Alberta 1916; B.C., 1917; Canada 1917, (if over 21 & a soldier’s wife, widow, mother, sister or daughter) & 1918, if met same provincial vote requirements as men, including property ownership.

In 1920, new federal requirements---British citizen, over 21, 1 year Canadian residence, etc., but still racial restrictions. Racial and religious restrictions on voting and holding public office were in place, at various times, against those of Japanese, East Indian, native Indian or Chinese backgrounds, and against Doukhobors, Mennonites, and some Roman Catholics.

Not till 1963 were all racial and religious restrictions removed.

Voting in Canada: How a Privilege Became a Right, CBC Archives:

Women Winning The Vote in Canada, Parks Canada:

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