Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in Ontario

On April 12, 1917, the Ontario legislature voted in favour of women’s suffrage, officially granting women in the province of Ontario the right to vote in provincial and municipal elections. In Canada, the suffrage movement began in the late 19th century with demonstrations and campaigns for voting rights occurring all across the country. In Ontario, suffragists raised awareness and support for their cause through the formation of organizations, participation in national and international meetings, petitions and lobbying at the municipal and provincial levels, political theatre and political writing. The movement faced strong resistance, but after years of activism and following the suffrage victories of Western Canada in 1916, Ontario became the fifth province to allow women the right to vote.

Pictured here is a map of Vaughan Township from 1851 along with campaign material from the 1972 Town of Vaughan election. The map indicates the exact vote cast by each eligible voter in Vaughan Township, all of whom are male. In contrast, the campaign materials consist of brochures, programs and information about the candidates running for Council, one of whom is Ms. Claire Coates, a social worker from Woodbridge. These items highlight the evolving role of women in politics from passive observers to active instigators of change, and are a testament to the progress that has been made over the last 100 years.

Go online for more information about the City of Vaughan Archives.

Bailey Chui
Archives Record Analyst

Visit the City of Vaughan’s website at vaughan.ca.

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