Introduction

Women’s rights in Canada were evolving and growing throughout the twentieth century. In 1916 women were granted the right to vote, and in 1929 they were recognized as persons under the BNA Act. World Wars I and II opened up new opportunities for women, as they could serve in the military as nurses during WWI, and by WWII, women were enlisting in the army, navy, and air force. By 1953, another previously restricted space for women was beginning to slowly open up. The Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC) began to consider the possibility of allowing women to be ordained as ministers and elders within the Church.

Intense and meaningful discussions occurred over the role of women within all levels of the Church, ones that continued with fervor after the Declaratory Act in 1966 allowing women the right to be ordained as elders and ministers passed. Conversations and debates about women’s place were still ongoing, with petitions and overtures on the matter continuing up until 1982.


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Cairine Wilson

Click to enlarge. In 1930, Cairine Wilson was the first woman appointed to the Senate in Canada.

This website exhibit was created in order to celebrate and honour the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women within the PCC, and focuses on the many important groups and reports that contributed to the discussions that ultimately allowed for more equality within the Church. Although a number of sources were consulted, much of this exhibit draws its information from the reports found within the Acts and Proceedings from General Assemblies in the years spanning 1953-1983.


This Project has been made possible [in part] by the Government of Canada through the Young Canada Works and Heritage Organizations Program. « Ce projet a été rendu possible [en partie] grâce au gouvernement du Canada par de Jeunesse Canada au travail et le Programme des organismes patrimoniaux». This exhibit was created by the Archives summer intern, Emily Tippins.

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