II-109197 | Ishbel Maria Coutts Majoribanks, Countess of Aberdeen, Montreal, QC, 1895

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Ishbel Maria Coutts Majoribanks, Countess of Aberdeen, Montreal, QC, 1895
Wm. Notman & Son
1895, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
25.4 x 20.3 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  female (19035) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

In early-1890s Canada no woman yet had the right to vote in either provincial or federal elections. At the same time the movement for the political rights of women had received an infusion of fresh blood. The Women's Christian Temperance Union, frustrated by the lukewarm reception given ever since 1874 to its campaign against alcoholism and its destructive effects, embraced the cause of women's suffrage, considering it the only way to reach government ears. When the National Council of Women was founded in 1893, the Dominion Women's Enfranchisement Association found a wider audience. The Council initially observed a prudent neutrality on the question of suffrage. But in 1910 it pronounced itself officially in favour of the vote, indicating that a large number of women had become aware of their status as inferiors and were determined to change that.

  • What

    This is a portrait of Lady Aberdeen, wife of the governor-general and chair of the National Council of Women from its founding in 1893. The Council relied on Lady Aberdeen's prestige to unify women's associations and encourage the reformists.

  • Where

    Lady Aberdeen was born in London in 1857 and died in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1939.

  • When

    Lady Aberdeen, an aristocrat and a democrat with a strong social conscience, lived in Canada from 1893. In 1898 she left the country with her husband when he was posted abroad.

  • Who

    Like many other reformers, Lady Aberdeen felt that women constituted one of Canada's greatest and least used resources. She also believed that they could exert a decisive civilizing influence.