THREE YEARS AFTER WOMEN WERE GRANTED VOTING RIGHTS IN FEDERAL ELECTIONS, Agnes Macphail had her name placed on the ballot in the Ontario riding of Southeast Grey.

The 31-year old United Farmers candidate was one of five woman candidates in the 1921 federal election.

On the hustings, referring to her trademark sailor hat, she quipped: "This outfit will take me either to the House of Commons or the House of refuge!"

Elected with a comfortable majority of 2,590, she took her seat along with the other 234 male members of the House of Commons on March 8, 1922, at the opening of the First Session of Canada's 14th Parliament.

Agnes Macphail (pictured, left) became, on that day, the first female member of Parliament and that fact could ill pass unnoticed.

RIGHT HON. ARTHUR MEIGHEN - Leader of the Opposition (Grenville, Ont.): Mr. Speaker, I add especially a word of welcome to the first lady member of the House.

The last Parliament, by a very large majority, almost by a unanimous decision, conferred the franchise on women, and conferred upon them as well the privilege of candidature for the Commons.


Agnes MacphailTo be recipient of the first expression of confidence by a constituency is an historic honour, and I know I express the feelings of all, when I put into words the hope that she will vindicate the confidence that the last Parliament has reposed in her sex, do credit to herself and to the constituency that she represents.

RIGHT HON. WILLIAM L. MACKENZIE KING - Prime Minister: May I also, Mr. Speaker, join with my right hon. friend in welcoming to this Parliament the lady member who has come to us from Southeast Grey.

I could not but think that my right hon. friend's remarks would have been still more felicitous had he not been a member of a government which at a previous election denied to a very large proportion of the women of this country the right to the franchise.

It is still more unfortunate that among the women of this country who were denied that right and privilege was the hon. member for Southeast Grey who is sitting in the House tonight. My right hon. friend has at last received his answer from the women of this country to the action which disenfranchised such a large percentage of their number in the election of 1917.

King had reason to gloat.

Whether it was the revenge of Canadian women or not, Meighen's Conservatives had been decimated in the 1921 election, now down to 50 members.

Meighen himself had been defeated in Portage La Prairie and managed to return to the House only through a hastily arranged by-election.

Macphail's first participation in the debates came only March 27, when, as the House was in committee of the whole, she asked a few tentative and trivial questions of one of King's ministers.

But she was soon off and running.

She was re-elected in every subsequent federal election until 1940, and again in 1945.