The achievement of the vote in 1918 is often celebrated as a triumphant moment in the onward, upward advancement of Canadian women. Acclaimed historian Joan Sangster looks beyond the shiny rhetoric of anniversary celebrations and Heritage Minutes to show that the struggle for equality included gains and losses, inclusions and exclusions, depending on a woman’s race, class, and location within the nation. She travels back in time to tell a new, more inclusive story for a new generation and exposes not only the fissures of inequality that cut deep into our country’s past but also their weaknesses in the face of resistance, optimism, and protest – an inspiring legacy that resonates to this day.
Joan Sangster is the author of numerous books and articles on the history of women in Canada, including Earning Respect: The Lives of Working Women in Small-Town Ontario, 1920–60, which won the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences’s Harold Adams Innis Prize. She is Vanier Professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and director of the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies at Trent University. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
One Hundred Years of Struggle succeeds remarkably well in presenting ideas in an accessible way without oversimplifying them, a difficult task to achieve. It provides unobtrusive explanations of ideas and terms that might be unfamiliar to readers; for example, a text box provides a definition of the label ‘bluestocking,’ the eighteenth-century word for women who gathered for intellectual discussions. Sangster wryly notes that these women were inevitably portrayed as pedantic, pretentious, overbearing, ‘and, of course, ugly.'
Now this is one of those books you need to read and you need to buy for others, especially now as women are facing watershed moments on many fronts. In this fantastic book, acclaimed historian Joan Sangster celebrates the 100th anniversary of Canadian women getting the vote not with rah, rah speeches and pleasantries, but with looks at the real warriors and the real struggles women faced … this comprehensive book truly reminds the reader of what determination and dedication can do.
Joan Sangster's One Hundred Years of Struggle jolts us back into women's often grim historical reality, reminding us that the political rights that we often take for granted today were keenly opposed in years past.
Sangster’s honest analysis of the role that imperial and racist attitudes played (and continue to play) in the fight for women’s equal political participation offers a challenge to those who believe that struggles associated with women’s suffrage are entirely historical.
Joan Sangster’s clear, concise, and lively treatment of the women’s suffrage movement in Canada provides a broad historical survey…One Hundred Years of Struggle succeeds remarkably well in presenting ideas in an accessible way without oversimplifying them.