Universal Sufferage in Canada, and the Dartmouth Connection

Did you know that the beginning of the right to vote for women in Nova Scotia started in the Town of Dartmouth in 1886?

If you rely on the Province of Nova Scotia to inform you, you will find not one mention of Dartmouth’s trailblazing status (https://nslegislature.ca/about/history/women-in-nova-scotia-politics), perhaps because their copy of the Statutes of 1886 omits page 253, which just happens to be the page that details who is eligible to vote in Dartmouth’s elections. Hmm.


Luckily Google via the Gutenberg Project has digitized a copy held by Stanford Law Library. “All ratepayers of the town whether male or female”
Check it out here, on Page 252 (275): (https://ia902706.us.archive.org/6/items/statutesnovasco01scotgoog/statutesnovasco01scotgoog.pdf)

On April 26th 1918 the franchise was further extended to female property owners Province wide via the Nova Scotia Franchise Act (1918, c. 2, p. 2).

In 1920 further changes were made with the “Act to Amend Chapter 2, Acts of 1918” (1920, c. 49, p. 65) – all property and income-based requirements were eliminated – however, universal suffrage had yet to take effect since it wasn’t until 1960 that Indigenous women (and men) with ‘Indian Status’ were enfranchised in all elections with an “Act to Amend the Canada Elections Act,” repealing parts of Section 14 that required First Nations people to give up their status in order to vote, a provision of the BNA Act of 1867.

It was given Royal assent on March 31, 1960, and with this, universal suffrage took effect.






Dartmouth For Life