Saint John Woman Suffrage Association

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Saint John Woman Suffrage Association

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Established 1894


The first meeting of the Women's Enfranchisement Association in Saint John, New Brunswick, was held at Mrs. Sarah Manning's home on 30 March 1894 to discuss forming a society for the political enfranchisement of women. The object of the organization was to work with the Dominion Women's Enfranchisement Association in securing the right to vote at all elections for Canadian women. There were 18 individuals present and Mrs. Emma Fiske was in the chair. The following were elected to office: president, Mrs. Sarah Manning; 1st vice-president, Miss Skinner; 2nd vice-president, Miss V.F.S. Eaton; secretary-treasurer, Mrs. Ella B.M. Hatheway; and corresponding secretary, Mrs. Emma Fiske. Mrs. J.R. Elliott of Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia, was a corresponding member. The New Brunswick Branch of the Dominion Women's Enfranchisement Association was chosen as the official name of the association at the second meeting when the constitution was adopted. Annual dues were 50 cents.

Meetings of the Women's Enfranchisement Association in Saint John consisted of a business meeting then discussed political economy, considering such ideas as "Exchange of Wealth" and read articles from the newspaper and magazines which related to women, such as "Female Poaching on Male Preserves". Members also researched, wrote and presented papers on various aspects of politics and social ideas to the Association for discussion including Miss Murphy's paper, "Complete Education".

The Women's Enfranchisement Association became involved in many areas of society, particularly those concerning women: treatment of women prisoners at the city jail, claims of women teachers to equal pay with men in the same profession, the matter of young girls on the street, clean drinking water, and education including public kindergarten.

On 19 September 1896, a meeting at the Mechanics Institute was held to inform the public on the matter of suffrage for women. Miss Skinner presided and the attendance was good. There were addresses by Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, president of the Society for Advancement of Women; Mrs Edna Cheney; Miss E.H. Botume; and Mrs. M.F. Eastman. Mr. A.A. Stockton spoke at the end of the meeting on the laws of New Brunswick regarding women. The association also hoped the meeting would spur an increase in their membership. In 1912, the noted suffragist Sylvia Pankhurst came to Saint John to speak on voting rights for women.

Several bills, from 1895 onward, were presented to the Legislature on behalf of the Women's Enfranchisement Association by elected members of the government such as A.A. Stockton and Dr. S. Alward who supported women's right to vote but all were defeated until the government passed legislation giving women in the province the vote in 1919 Seven prominent Saint John women travelled to the New Brunswick Legislature in Fredericton in 1909 to lobby for the partial suffrage bill under consideration. The lawmakers responded by crying for 'help', 'police', 'Sergeant-At-Arms', followed by the loud clanging of the division bells.

By 1915, the name of this organization changed to Saint John Woman Suffrage Association.


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