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Sketches of Canada for January 27th!

Canadian History for Kids: Manitoba Vote

January 27, 1916 – Manitoba the First province to grant women the vote and full political equality

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive, looks at the ground breaking decision to allow woman the right to vote.

“Have we not the brains to think? Hands to work? Hearts to feel? And lives to live?” asked Mrs. Nellie McClung.

Nellie McClung, born in Chartsworth Ontario in 1873, was a dominant figure in Canadian feminism.

Nellie and her family moved to Manitoba in 1880. She learned to read at the age of 9 and graduated from a Winnipeg Normal School in 1889. She received her first teaching assignment in Manitou, Manitoba.

McClung’s marriage and family life were very happy, but Nellie saw a lot of suffering around her. Especially the suffering of women and children. In the eyes of the law, women had very little rights. If a woman had any money or property they legally belonged to her husband as did her wages and their children.

Canadian History for Kids has learned that Mrs. McClung belonged to the Canadian Women’s Press Club and the Political Equity League. These groups used speeches and conferences as a way to convince politicians to grant women the right to vote.

On January 27, 1914, a group of women headed by McClung petitioned Manitoba’s parliament asking for the right to vote.
The Conservative premier, Sir Rodmond Roblin, rejected Mrs. McClung’s. “Most women,” he told the petitioners, “don’t want the vote.”

Just two years later, in January 1916, the Manitoba government gave unanimous support to a bill that made Manitoba the first province in Canada to give women the right to vote. Roblin had been driven from government in scandal, forced to resign in the face of allegations of kickbacks and corruption surrounding the construction of the Manitoba legislative building.

The new Liberal premier, Tobias Norris, had been elected on an determined policy of political reform. He was committed not only to granting women the vote, but to banning alcohol, establishing workers’ compensation and reforming the education system.

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!

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