The mischiefmakers: woman’s movement development in Victoria, British Columbia 1850-1910




Ihmels, Melanie

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This thesis examines the beginning of Victoria, British Columbia’s, women’s movement, stretching its ‘start’ date to the late 1850s while arguing that, to some extent, the local movement criss-crossed racial, ethnic, religious, and gender boundaries. It also highlights how the people involved with the women’s movement in Victoria challenged traditional beliefs, like separate sphere ideology, about women’s position in society and contributed to the introduction of new more egalitarian views of women in a process that continues to the present day. Chapter One challenges current understandings of First Wave Feminism, stretching its limitations regarding time and persons involved with social reform and women’s rights goals, while showing that the issue of ‘suffrage’ alone did not make a ‘women’s movement’. Chapter 2 focuses on how the local ‘women’s movement’ coalesced and expanded in the late 1890s to embrace various social reform causes and demands for women’s rights and recognition, it reflected a unique spirit that emanated from Victorian traditionalism, skewed gender ratios, and a frontier mentality. Chapter 3 argues that an examination of Victoria’s movement, like any other ‘women’s movement’, must take into consideration the ethnic and racialized ‘other’, in this thesis the Indigenous, African Canadian, and Chinese. The Conclusion discusses areas for future research, deeper research questions, and raises the question about whether the women’s movement in Victoria was successful.



Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, Canadian Women's History, first wave feminism, racialization, race history, gender history, separate sphere ideology, angel in the house, western egalitarianism, women's rights, social reform, suffrage, Women's Christian temperance Union, Women's Council, Times Colonist, Frontier mentality, ethnicity, legal reform, Maria Grant, Maternal Feminism, women's equality, sexual equality, political equality, Frances Willard, Susan B. Anthony