Canada, as we know it today, has a strong reputation for being a country where everyone is treated equally. No matter the race, religion, or even gender. Unfortunately, things were not always like this. Back in the 20’th century, men and women were treated differently, since women were not always seen as “persons”. They were seen as less than men, who were incapable of doing many things.
Women would only do housework and take care of the children, while men would become educated and would work outside the house. However, over the years many women have stood up against this and have shown society that they are equally as capable of doing anything that men can. Whether it was being able to vote, become educated, or even work, women have shown no weakness in achieving these things and more. They fought long and hard to be able to gain many of the rights and freedoms that we take for granted today. Their efforts helped shape Canada and its people.
They spoke up, raised a voice, and never gave up. Canada’s women became leaders in change not only for their own country—but the world. Throughout her life, Nellie McClung strove to improve the quality of life not just for women but all Canadians.
Her principal aim was to achieve recognition and acceptance of women who had traditionally been denied a role in the institutions and organizations which governed both Canadian politics and culture. An active suffragist, writer, and politician, McClung’s efforts brought about much change in Canadian society. She started off as a speaker for Winnipeg women’s rights and reform in 1911. Later, in 1915, she moved to Edmonton, Alberta, where she joined journalist Emily Murphy, WCTU leader Louise McKinney, and UFWA activist Irene Parlby. Here, Nellie fought for women’s suffrage, prohibition, dower rights for women, factory safety legislation and more. Fighting for suffrage wasn’t easy because women were not taken seriously and they were not considered people. However, Nellie’s efforts were worth it because, on April 12, 1917, Ontario became the first Conservative government to allow women to vote. Now, this was a small but significant progression.
Eventually, after the First World War, Sir Robert Borden wanted to acknowledge women’s contributions to the war, appeal to future female voters, as well as gain support for conscription. This then leads to the Military Voters Act and Wartime Elections Act of 1917 which gave the military nurses along with close female relatives of military men the right to vote. These acts were a big step for women to become more involved in the society during World War 1. However, it also wasn’t fair for other women, so Nellie continued her fight. Finally, on May 24, 1918, women age 21 and above, excluding under racial and Indigenous, could vote in the federal election. Women made up approximately half the Canadian population, and by giving them the right to vote, it allowed Canada to be a more democratic country. Nellie McClung gave women a voice. A voice they didn’t have before.
By giving women the right to vote, it allowed them to be able to express their concerns, to be able to have a say in what happens in the country they live in, and to be seen as people and citizens of Canada. Canada was one of the the first countries to allow women to vote, and it also impacted other countries to allow women suffrage. Nellie’s efforts will always be remembered as one of the most extraordinary moments in Canadian history because it was a step towards women finally being seen as equal. Women were not always allowed to be educated and take on any occupation they desired, but in 1927 Elsie MacGill changed that standard. Born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Elsie was the daughter of Helen MacGill, the first female judge appointed in British Columbia. In 1921, Elsie attended the University of British Columbia to study science and later in 1923; she began going to University of Toronto’s School of Practical Science for electrical engineering. She was the first female to be enrolled in this program. After graduating in 1927, Elsie became Canada’s first ever female engineer.
She then started working for a company that eventually began to make airplanes. She did not have the required education to be able to help in making planes, so Elsie started going to University of Michigan to study aeronautics, which she completed in 1929. This made her the first female aeronautical engineer not only in Canada but the world. Elsie is a remarkable Canadian who made a defining contribution to our country and left an indelible mark on our national story. She is a great inspiration to women and young girls, not only in Canada, but in the world. Elsie shows that with hard work you can achieve anything you would like.
Thanks to her women in today’s society can take on any occupation they want, without being judged or being told that they will not succeed. They can also receive the same education as men. Today, there are almost the same amount of male students in school as there are female. She paved the way for a generation of young women and men by showing them that with passion, hard work and determination, nothing is impossible.
By being the first woman to receive an electrical engineering degree in Canada, the first practicing woman engineer in Canada and the first woman aircraft designer in the world, Elsie defines what it means to be a Canadian woman. Ellen Fairclough is one of the greatest women in Canadian history and helped give women a voice in government that changed Canada for the better. Ellen Louks Fairclough, born January 28, 1915, in Hamilton, Ontario was a professional chartered accountant and the owner of a Hamilton Accounting Firm, but later entered politics. Fairclough was elected to the Hamilton City Council in 1946, and she served on the council for four years.
In 1949, Ellen first ran for federal office as a Progressive Conservative in the federal election, but unfortunately lost to Liberal MP Colin Gibson in Hamilton West. Fortunately for Ellen, Gibson was appointed to the Supreme Court of Ontario the next year, so in May, Ellen ran in again and this time was successfully able to win a federal seat by-election. She was a member of the Canadian House of Commons from 1950 to 1963.
As a Member of Parliament, she advocated for women’s rights and introduced a private member’s bill requiring equal pay for equal work. She also advocated the creation of a Department of Labour Women’s Bureau. When the PC Party took power as a result of the 1957 federal election, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker appointed her to the position of Secretary of State for Canada. This made her the first woman to ever serve in the Canadian Cabinet.
In 1958, she became Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Ellen moved to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration that same year and later became postmaster general in 1962. After six years she was unfortunately defeated in the 1963 election. During her time as Secretary of State, Ellen is remembered for eliminating racial discrimination in Canada’s immigration policy. She also played a significant role in fighting for the equal rights of women.
She was and still is one of the most important and significant women in Canadian history. Ellen Fairclough did something that many people thought was impossible. Women were always considered of as weak, but Ellen overcame that stereotype and showed everyone that women are more than what people believed. By never giving up and becoming the first female Cabinet Minister in Canada, she is an excellent example for everyone to see that nothing is impossible. Canada’s women became leaders in change not only for their country-but the world.
They have shown immense strength throughout the years, by never losing hope or giving up in fighting for what they believed in. Nellie McClung, Elsie MacGill, and Ellen Fairclough are all very amazing and strong women who have helped shape Canadian history for the better. Nellie has helped give women the right to vote, so that they could also have a say in what happens in the country they live, and could be treated like true Canadian citizens. Elsie has shown that women can become educated and work in any field their heart desires.
That women can work and they can be equally as successful, if not more, than men. Finally, Ellen has shown has shown how women can be in power and can work in the government. They can be leaders and can be victorious.
Together, all three of these remarkable women have encouraged women of their time to speak up and be fearless. They gave strength and to those women and have shown them to never back down from something you truly believe in. They are also role models to women of today that show how hard work can help you achieve anything you would like. These women along with many others worked hard so that future generations -us- wouldn’t have to suffer the same things they did. They are like our rock, and our leaders to look up to.
These women are amazing role models who have helped bring gender equality and have helped shape Canada into the country it is today.