Women Able to Vote for Almost 100 Years

I wrote the following genealogy column in 2013. Since a federal election is taking place in Canada today, I thought this was fitting. Did you know that many–but not all–women won the right to vote in Canada in 1918. That’s less than 100 years ago.

Could Your Ancestor Vote?

If someone had asked me, “Was your great-grandfather able to vote?” I would have said, “Yes.” As a Canadian citizen in the 1800s, there was no reason he’d be disqualified. He was a white male, and I assumed all white Canadian males—unless they were in prison—could vote. I was wrong.

It turns out my ancestors first had to own land or possess assets of a certain value to vote in municipal and provincial elections. If they didn’t, they could pay a poll tax and vote, but if they were too poor to own land, then they might not have been able to afford this tax.

My ancestors were more likely to have voted if they were Protestant. If they were Catholic or Jacobite, they couldn’t vote until 1829, and then they had to swear an allegiance to the King and his Protestant heirs. If they refused, they gave up their right to vote.

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