Triumphs and Trials
While suffrage was a major success for women’s rights in Saskatchewan, it also brought some disappointments for the women who had worked so hard to see it achieved.
Many suffragists expected women to exercise their newfound political voice to enact laws that would address the social problems they had fought against, and grant them legal recognition as citizens. They believed women would vote together as a unified force, but women’s voting blocs never gained much strength.
Ironically, the very thing that suffragists fought for — to let women think for themselves and vote for their chosen representatives — was the very thing that prevented the political unity they sought.
In truth, just like men, women disagreed on many political issues and remained divided along traditional ideological and party lines.
- License: Public Domain
Today, voting is one of the most fundamental rights of Canadian citizenship. However, for women this right was hard won. In the early 1900s Violet McNaughton, Zoa Haight, and their sister suffragists united to achieve what people said could not be done — equal franchise. While divisions and challenges remained following the granting of the vote, the foundation for women’s rights had been laid.
The term “women suffragists” is no longer used, but regardless of how women activists describe themselves today, they continue to work toward goals that were started by the women who came before them: gender equity and political parity.
- Her Honour the Honourable Vaughn Solomon Schofield, S.O.M., S.V.M., Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan with students from École St Matthew School, 2013.
- Buffy Sainte-Marie, Indigenous activist and artist from Saskatchewan. License: Public Domain
Exhibits do not create themselves, and our ability to share the stories in “Sisters United: Women’s Suffrage in Saskatchewan” is due to the support of many individuals and organisations.
We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Government of Canada through the Museums Assistance Program.
For sharing their expertise, our sincere thanks go out to Dr. L. Biggs, Dr. K. Carlson, Dr. E. Dyck, Dr. B. Fairbairn, Dr. L. Hammond Ketilson, Dr. V. Korinek, Dr. M. Lovrod, and Dr. W. Roy, and Ms. A. Kreuger, from the University of Saskatchewan, Dr. S. Carter from the University of Alberta, Dr. R. Sawatzky from the Manitoba Museum, and Dr. V. Strong-Boag from the University of British Columbia. Your guidance, encouragement and valuable critiques were instrumental to the success of this project.
Furthermore, we recognize our partnering cultural and heritage institutions. Especially, the Canadian War Museum/Musée Canadien de la Guerre, the Grand Coteau Heritage and Cultural Centre, Library and Archives Canada/Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society, the University of Saskatchewan Archives and Special Collections, and the Western Development Museum. Your support of this project and generous loans will allow visitors to connect with captivating artefacts, making “Sisters United” a more dynamic and compelling exhibit.
Finally, we extend our thanks to all the other individuals whose dedication and efforts contributed to the production of “Sisters United.”