The history of woman suffrage in Canada has been largely ignored in the standard accounts of our past and has attracted little attention–at least until recently–from research students. The major exception is Catherine Cleverdon's study. Written nearly a quarter of a century ago, it remains the authoritative, indeed the only complete account of the suffragist struggle which took place here.
Women won the franchise through the efforts of small groups across the country who devoted their energies to the cause over a considerable number of years. The author tells the spirited story of their encounters with the recalcitrant legislatures of the dominion and the provinces, of their frustrations and disappointments at the indifference with which their struggles often were met, and of the final culmination of their efforts in victory–in Quebec, only in 1940.
With this work Catherine Cleverdon charted a pioneer course through an almost completely unexplored field, marshalling skilfully a massive bulk of source material to great effect, adding lively details and engaging anecdotes to make the account both informative and vivid. She deals with the struggle for the suffrage in each province and on the federal level. Women received the suffrage first in the prairie provinces where there existed a feeling that they as much as men had opened up the land and that therefore, the vote, if they wanted it, was their due. Only in Quebec, the book records, did the struggle, bitterly contested, come closest to developing into a real fight following the British and US pattern.
This volume contains indispensable background materials for the story of women's social and political growth. Its republication is testimony to the new climate of interest in the study of the history of women in Canada.