Art Submission: The Lost Suffrage Posters
In the United States and Britain, posters were commonly used as a way to both advertise and oppose women’s suffrage. However, very few posters were created in Canada.
For this contest, your challenge is to travel back in time to create a poster for the Canadian women’s suffrage movement. Imagine how Canadian suffragists would have promoted their campaign for the vote, or advertised a Mock Parliament. Conversely, imagine a critique of the suffrage movement and how that would have been conveyed in a poster. Drawing inspiration from other suffrage imagery and propaganda from the early twentieth century available here, design a poster that promotes political equality or advertises an event held by Canadian suffragists.
- What does the right to vote mean to you? How would you feel if you weren’t allowed to vote, based on your gender, race, or class?
- What details, images or symbols can be used to represent democracy and women’s rights?
- Who is represented, or not represented, in your poster?
- Is your artwork literal or abstract in its meaning? Does your artwork have multiple meanings?
- Does your poster make reference to specific people, events, or time periods in history?
To submit your poster, take a photo and upload it through our online submission form. You must include an author’s statement of not more than 200 words which explains what you depicted in your poster and why. Please do not mail in hard copies of artwork as part of your initial submission. Your poster should be no larger than 11” x 17”. Finalists will be requested to mail a hard copy for judging.
Writing Submission: A Letter to the Editor
Suffragists! Make your voice heard!
Pick up the suffragists’ torch: imagine that you live in Canada before all women had the right to vote. You are outraged by the inequality, and you are going to be heard! Either hand-write or type a Letter to the Editor that would have appeared in a national or local newspaper at the time, calling for democratic representation in Canada. Your letter should express your opinion or point of view about a specific issue or event. For further Guidelines on writing a letter to the editor, click here.
Remember to think carefully about how you portray people, events, and complex issues in your work. This involves considering what society and attitudes were like in the past. When trying to understand people’s motivations or beliefs, historians and students of history must balance this awareness of past beliefs while working to avoid excusing their actions as resulting solely from their historical context. Are you giving them characteristics that are products of the time you live in now?
You may want to consider the following questions when drafting your letter:
- What was an important turning point or event in the history of suffrage in Canada that deserves comment? Timing is important. For instance, if you are commenting on an event that took place on March 17th, 1913 you would want to write you letter within a day or two of the event.
- What is important to include? What can I leave out? A letter to the editor must be clear and concise, so only the necessary information should be included.
- How does my letter educate the public? Will people pay attention to it? What details do they need to know to understand it? Consider the historical context that your readers would need.
- Who is my audience? How could my piece impact them? Consider not only the perspective from which you are writing, but also the perspective of your potential readers.
Your submission can include any or all of the following details: the title of a newspaper, the date on which you are writing, or the name of a historical person from whose perspective you are writing. If you’re writing by hand, you can include artistic elements that may have appeared in a newspaper of the day. Give careful thought to the specific historical vantage point from which you are writing, and focus on one main point. The letter should be a maximum of 500 words. To submit write your letter and upload it through our online submission form.
Entries will be reviewed by the contest jury and separate art and writing winners will be selected from 5 categories, except where noted:
Junior: Age 10-13 OR grade 5-8 (primary V – secondary II in Quebec)
Senior: Age 14-18 OR grade 9-12 (secondary III–V in Quebec)
Young Adult: Age 19-29
Second Language Learner (Junior or Senior level – writing only)
Group* (prize for a group entry with 6 or more participants)
Each entry must include a written artist’s or author’s statement (to a maximum of 200 words).
There will be a 1st and 2nd place prize for each category. Please see Rules and Regulations for additional guidelines.
Enter for the chance to win a gift certificate valued at up to $500. Each individual winner will be given the choice of a gift card from Indigo, Apple, Best Buy, Cineplex, Air Canada or Via Rail in the monetary amount awarded. Each group winner will be given the choice of a gift card from Indigo, Apple, Staples, Scholastic, or Best Buy. For more information on prizing, please read the Rules and Regulations.
Your entry will be assessed on the following components: creativity, communication, understanding of subject, and analysis. See the Evaluation Criteria for full assessment details.
*Group entries will be judged as a collaborative effort, with each member of the group submitting an individual piece that makes up the entry. Each piece of the group entry will also join the pool of individual submissions, so each individual part created as part of a group submission is also eligible for individual prizes in the applicable category.
Clockwise, from the top:Poster advertising a march and meeting in London, UK (courtesy Schlesinger Library/Radcliffe Institute/Harvard University/Gr-1-8). “Equality is the sacred law of humanity” (courtesy Schlesinger Library/Radcliffe Institute/Harvard University/Gr-1-30). “Justice demands the vote” poster (courtesy Schlesinger Library/Radcliffe Institute/Harvard University/Gr-1-12).Front page of the Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 23 December 1915 (courtesy University of Manitoba Libraries Digital Collections).