The critical wartime role assumed by women as agricultural workers and sometimes farm managers helped convince the western provinces of women’s worth as citizens. The decision was not without its critics, but Manitoba became the first province to allow
women to vote in provincial elections and to hold office, passing the Suffrage Bill on 28 January 1916. Saskatchewan and Alberta followed suit within months, with Ontario and British Columbia granting women the vote in early 1917. Nova Scotia and New
Brunswick did the same in 1918. Prince Edward Island (1922) and Quebec (1940) waited while Newfoundland, then a separate Dominion, granted women the vote in 1925.
Women were partially enfranchised federally in 1917. The Government of Sir Robert Borden passed the Military Voters Act enabling nurses to vote in the election in December, while the Wartime Elections Act allowed the mothers, wives, widows, sisters, and
daughters of servicemen to vote. In the House of Commons, Prime Minister Borden claimed that he had put the bills forward because he wanted to acknowledge women’s contributions to the war effort. However, the Government calculated that women on active
service or whose family members were already overseas would be more willing to vote in favour of compulsory military service, or conscription, which is what Borden sought and which was the main election issue. Nevertheless, a precedent had been set at
the federal level.