Case study: Women - language learners version

Context card

Black and white photograph of a young women placing her ballot in a metal ballot box, while smiling.
Source: Reg Innell, Toronto Star Photo Archive


In 1867, the British North America Act was passed. The Act said that only men could vote. In the 1870s, women formed groups to fight for equality and the right to vote.

Different provinces had different rules about women and voting. In 1916, some women in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta won the right to vote in provincial elections. During the First World War, some women were allowed to vote at the federal level. In 1918, many women got the right to participate fully in federal elections.

However, some women were still not allowed to vote for reasons other than their gender. It was not until 1960 that First Nations women got the right to vote.

Activity cards


Black and white photograph showing a group of men, including Sir John A. MacDonald, gathered on steps holding their top hats.  
Source: Library and Archives Canada, PA-091061


At Confederation, you can vote only if you

  • are male 
  • are age 21 or older, and 
  • own property. 

Women couldn’t vote in federal or provincial elections.


Black and white photograph showing a large group of women, positioned in rows. Two dogs sit in front.
Source: Library and Archives Canada, PA-028033


A group of women create the National Council of Women to fight for women’s right to vote. Women create similar organizations across Canada.


Black and white photograph showing four women seated around a table. On the table is a large stack of paper.
Source: Foote and James, Archives of Manitoba, PR1967-43, N9905


Manitoba becomes the first province in Canada to allow some women to vote.


Photograph of a group of female military nurses lining up and voting outside during the First World War.

Source: William Rider-Rider, Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada, PA-002279 (modified from the original). Colourized image courtesy of the Vimy Foundation.


During the First World War, these women are allowed to vote in federal elections:

  • Canadian women in the military
  • Women related to men in the military

In this photo, Canadian military nurses in France cast their ballots.


Black and white photograph of Agnes Macphail, seated.
Source: The Grey Roots Archival Collection


Many Canadian women win the right to vote in federal elections. In the next federal election (1921), Agnes Macphail is the first woman elected to the Canadian Parliament.


Black and white photograph of Thérèse Casgrain.  
Source: André Larose, Library and Archives Canada, PA-178194


Quebec is the last province to give women the vote. It took the work of activists like Thérèse Casgrain to make this change.


Black and white photograph showing Prime Minister John Diefenbaker shaking hands with a First Nations woman, amid a small crowd of people of all ages. The woman has her arm around a young child.
Source: University of Saskatchewan, University Archives & Special Collections, John G. Diefenbaker fonds MG 411, JGD 3636


All First Nations women and men are given the right to vote in federal elections without any conditions. Before 1960, they could vote only if they gave up their treaty rights and First Nations status. Here, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker greets a First Nations woman.


Photograph of Kim Campbell standing behind a microphone, smiling and waving.
Source: The Canadian Press / Phil Snel


Kim Campbell becomes the first female prime minister of Canada.