She Won the Vote for Women: The Life and Times of Lillian Benyon Thomas

Robert E. Hawkins

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Lillian Beynon Thomas’ suffragist campaign succeeded where all others had failed. This full-length biography fills an important gap in the history of the ‘votes for women’ movement, a campaign which saw Manitoba become the earliest federal or provincial Canadian jurisdiction to grant some women the franchise.

 

Law professor and historian Robert E. Hawkins describes how Lilian used her work as a journalist, playwright, and activist to lobby for the rights of women. By connecting with women across Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Benyon Thomas was able to develop a broad-based movement that stood in contrast to the traditional tools of backroom, partisan politics. Her grassroots approach was a forerunner to modern political campaign techniques.

 

This is the story of how a young girl came with her settler family to a desolate part of the hardscrabble prairie and who, despite these humble origins, succeeded in engineering a fundamental Canadian democratic reform and championing the emerging Canadian cultural nationalism.

Robert E. Hawkins

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Robert E. Hawkins

Robert E. Hawkins is the past President & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Regina and, until 2023, he was a law professor in its Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. Bob grew up in Western Manitoba and is a graduate of St. John’s College, University of Manitoba, which has awarded him an Honorary Doctorate. For the past twelve years, Bob has served on Regina City Council. Bob has published extensively in leading Canadian law journals on constitutional and administrative law, and on the legal history of the Prairie region, including Lillian Benyon Thomas’ role in the suffrage movement.

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