One Hundred Years of Struggle

The History of Women and the Vote in Canada

Table of contents


1 The Privilege of Property

2 Race and the Idea of Rights for Women

3 Suffrage as a Socialist Issue

4 Making Suffragists

5 The Anti-suffragists

6 Feminist Countercultures

7 Debating War and Peace

8 Old and New Agendas in Peacetime

9 Votes for All Women


Sources and Further Reading; Photo Credits; Index



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.


  • Short-listed, Dafoe Book Prize Prize, The Dafoe Foundation 2019


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.

- Susan Whitney, associate professor of history, Carleton University

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.

- Stephanie Milliken

Under one cover, One Hundred Years brings together aspects of the story that have hitherto been scattered throughout the historiography and reflects the growing maturity of the field of women’s/gender history.

- Dianne Dodd, Parks Canada

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.

- Dana Gee

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.

- Barbara Messamore, University of the Fraser Valley