Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor


Founded in 1913, the Women's Section of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers Association played a major role in the advancement of such causes as women's suffrage, public health and medical care, prohibition, the Canadianization of the immigrant, and the propagation of the cooperative ideal. Although born of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers Association, the Prairies' pioneer agrarian organization, with origins that preceded the creation of Saskatchewan (1905), the Women Grain Growers was not its auxiliary. Viewing themselves as both farm women and farmers, the leaders of the Women Grain Growers–most prominent among them Violet McNaughton, Francis Beynon, and Zoa Haight–claimed, and received, full constitutional status with the parent body as well as the right to form their own locals and meet separately if they so desired. Three of their members were also guaranteed seats on the board of directors of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers Association.

By 1919 there were 6,000 women members in the Women Grain Growers and in the locals of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers Association; that is, approximately one in six of the total membership. The Saskatchewan Women Grain Growers became the model on which women's sections of the United Farmers of Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario was patterned.

Full participation by women in the affairs of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers Association and the Women's Section preceded by six and eight years, respectively, the first exercise of the right to vote by women in provincial and federal politics. As such, any study of women and politics in Canada must give prominence to these agrarian organizations.

Leaders of the Saskatchewan Women Grain Growers played an influential role in the move of traditional farmers to the political left, as witnessed by the introduction of the Wheat Pool in 1924 and the amalgamation of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers Association and the more radical Farmers Union of Canada in 1926. A separate women's section of the new United Farmers of Canada–Saskatchewan Section disappeared after 1930, when that organization experimented–more faithfully on paper than in practice–with an early form of affirmative action.

David E. Smith University of Saskatchewan

Marchildon, Randolph George. "Improving the Quality of Rural Life in Saskatchewan: Some Activities of the Women's Section of the Saskatchewan Grain Growers, 1913– 1920." In Building Beyond the Homestead: Rural History of the Prairies, edited by David C. Jones and Ian MacPherson. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1985: 89–109.

Taylor, Georgina M. "'Ground for Common Action': Violet McNaughton's Agrarian Feminism and the Origins of the Farm Women's Movement in Canada." Ph.D. diss., Carleton University, 1997.

Previous: Salter, Susanna | Contents | Next: Slaughter, Linda

XML: egp.gen.033.xml