Monday, May 11, 2009

Don't Forget to Vote in BC - That right didn't come quickly or easily for many

Chantecler Game advertising card, 1910.
Unused postcard, private collection.

The right to vote didn't come quickly or easily for many.

Don't forget to vote, 12 May, 2009 in British Columbia!

In British Columbia, women gained the vote provincially in 1917 and Mary Ellen Smith (née Spear, 1861-1933) was the first woman to be elected as a Member of BC's Legislative Assembly - in 1918, the first year any BC women could vote in a provincial election.

But Chinese and Indo Canadian women, for instance,
were not then entitled to vote.

Mary Ellen Smith is known for a number of 'firsts' for women and spent her life working for the rights of women and children. She was named a Canadian 'national historic person' in 2007 as "an accomplished politician in the immediate post-suffrage era who represented newly enfranchised women and brought their concerns into the
political forum".

For a timeline of the right to vote in British Columbia, Canada, see


Evelyn Yvonne Theriault said...

thank you for sharing this fascinating piece of historical ephemera. I will be sure to show this to my students when we next discuss the emancipation of women!
Evelyn in Montreal

Pawlina said...

True, and neither were Ukrainian women and others Canadians deemed "enemy aliens" at that time. In fact, the vote was actually taken away from their menfolk in 1917 under the Wartime Elections Act and given to female relatives of serving members of the military.

This blatant political maneuver made the female franchise a somewhat hollow victory. It no doubt also had an impact on the low level of interest in (or respect for) politics that immigrant women had at the time.

But times have changed and I certainly agree that everyone eligible to vote in BC should head to the polls tomorrow.

Thanks for making this post.