Library and Archives Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Institutional links

ARCHIVED - Celebrating Women's Achievements

Archived Content

This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats of this page on the Contact Us page.

Themes - Activism

Marie Lacoste Gérin-Lajoie

Photograph of Marie Lacoste Gérin-Lajoie

Pioneer Quebec Feminist


In 1907, Marie Lacoste Gérin-Lajoie founded the Fédération nationale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, an organization of francophone women from various professional and charitable organizations, dedicated to the promotion of civil and political rights for women.

In addition to teaching, and lecturing at l'Université de Montréal, Gérin-Lajoie, a self-taught legal expert, authored two treatises, Traité de droit usuel in 1902 and La femme et le code civil in 1929, as part of her efforts to reform the civil code, which attributed a married woman the inferior legal status of a minor.

She struggled to amend laws that had changed little since the 16th century, working to achieve the right of married women to control their own income, the right to limit the husband's freedom to unilaterally give away family assets, and the right to be guardians of minors. She also supported efforts to obtain simpler and cheaper separation procedures, the rights of separated women to manage their own property, and demands that a fixed proportion of a husband's estate go to the wife.

In 1922, she led a delegation of 400 suffragists to meet with the Quebec premier in an unsuccessful bid to obtain the vote for women. It would require 18 more years of hard work by feminists like Marie Lacoste Gérin-Lajoie before Quebec granted women the right to vote in 1940, the final province to do so.

Her daughter, Sister Marie-Joséphine Gérin-Lajoie, was Quebec's first francophone woman to receive a BA in 1911. She pursued her own style of women's suffrage, social work and education, through her foundation of a new religious order, les Soeurs Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Conseil in 1923.


Cleverdon, Catherine L. — The woman suffrage movement in Canada. — 2nd edition. — Toronto: University of Toronto Press, c1974. — 324 p. — ISBN 0802021085

Quebec women: a history. — By the Clio Collective, Micheline Dumont ... [et al]. ; translated by Roger Gannon and Rosalind Gill. — Toronto: Women's Press, c1987. — 396 p. — ISBN 0889611017

Prévost, Robert. — Québécoises d'hier et d'aujourd'hui: profils de 275 femmes hors du commun. — Montréal: Stanké, c1985. — 230 p. — ISBN 2760402614

Trifiro, Luigi. — "Une intervention à Rome dans la lutte pour le suffrage féminin au Québec (1922)". — Revue d'histoire de l'Amérique française — Vol. 32, no. 1 (juin 1978). — ISSN 00352357. — P. 3-18

Previous | Next