II-203044 | Miss Therese Forget, Montreal, QC, 1914

Miss Therese Forget, Montreal, QC, 1914
Wm. Notman & Son
1914, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
17 x 12 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  female (19035) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

French-Canadian Catholic women, fearing a hostile reaction from the clergy, did not have the same freedom of action as did anglophone women. Nevertheless, some of them, like Marie Lacoste-Gérin-Lajoie (1867-1945) and Caroline Béique (1852-1946) held liberal reformist opinions and joined mainly Protestant associations such as the Montreal chapter of the National Council of Women, founded in 1893. Not entirely comfortable in the organization but attracted by Christian feminism, which reconciled the fight for women's rights with religion, Gérin-Lajoie and Béique proposed breaking away from the Catholic francophone groups and in 1907 founded the Fédération nationale Saint-Jean-Baptiste. The Fédération made its name known in campaigns to put an end to married women's inferiority in the eyes of the law and to obtain the vote for women. This strategy was only marginally successful, and it was a later generation, led by women like Thérèse Casgrain (née Forget), who would carry on the fight.

  • What

    Thérèse Forget (1896-1981), daughter of the very wealthy Joseph-David-Rodolphe Forget (1861-1919), married in 1916 the Liberal politician Pierre-François Casgrain (1886-1950). Thereafter she fought for women's rights for almost half a century.

  • Where

    Born into a very highly regarded middle-class family in Montreal, Thérèse Forget grew up in a milieu where people took a great interest in the political and social questions of the day.

  • When

    By the time she was 18, as in this photograph, she had already had the opportunity of meeting some of the most important political figures of her time in her family's drawing-room.

  • Who

    Thérèse Casgrain, née Forget, took up the fight while continuing the work done by the first generation of feminists, women like Caroline Béique and Marie Gérin-Lajoie. In the 1920s she launched her famous campaign to obtain the vote for women in the Quebec provincial elections.