Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Alberta women getting the right to vote
Heritage Park is marking the 100th anniversary of some Alberta women getting the vote with a new interactive exhibit.
A group of 10 year old girls from the Calgary Girl’s School went to Heritage Park to do some time travelling. A new exhibit allows them to go back to the moment women in Alberta got the right to vote.
“Creating this experience allows them to travel back in time and hear a conversation that was bold and courageous in its own day, but also again the important message we hope the girls will take away is that they too can influence change,” said Carolyn Robertson, Famous 5 Foundation.
The girls put on wireless headsets that immerse them in the historical conversations leading up to the event. The exhibit is in the Famous 5 Centre of Canadian Women at Heritage Park. The building is a replica of the home of Nellie McClung, one of the leaders of the movement to get women the vote. McClung, along with Irene Parlby, Louise McKinney, Henrietta Muir Edwards and Emily Murphy, made up the Famous 5, and petitioned for the vote relentlessly. The exhibit reminds visitors of how recently women were barred from voting.
“It is hard to believe but quite frankly, it wasn’t that long ago, and First Nations women in Canada weren’t allowed to vote until 1960, that is even further appalling,” said Alida Visbach, Heritage Park CEO. “We have come a long way, but as they say, we still have a long way to go.”
Caucasian women in the four western provinces were the first to get the vote in 1916, and by 1919, all caucasian Canadian women had secured that right, though it would be decades before it became universal. The road to suffrage was a hard one though, and the women often had to meet in secret.
“It’s set up like a pink tea because the Famous 5 women met under the guise of pink teas so that nobody would really pay attention to what they were doing, and that’s when they would have these conversations of consequence,” said Carolyn Robertson, Famous 5 Foundation. “So these girls will be part of that conversation, they will feel like they are at the centre of it.”
The new exhibit in Heritage Park will be open to the public when the park itself opens for the summer season on May 21.