It was a female voice, which firmly responded to the roll call of Saint-Lambert’s city clerk, to confirm the presence of the alderman for seat number one. It was May 5, 1947 and the voice belonged to Gertrude Émard, the newly elected city councillor, only the second woman in the province of Quebec to do so. She would serve two terms, first with Mayor C.A. Comeau and then with Mayor N.H. Simms. But these tenures turned out to be no smooth sailing, for a woman, through hitherto unchartered political waters.
The honour of being the trailblazing politician falls to Kathleen Fisher, who won a seat on Montreal’s City Council as early as December 1940. This is a rather remarkable fact, considering that the right to exercise their franchise was given to women in Quebec only in the spring of that same year. Although women could vote and stand for office in federal elections, a right won nationally in 1918, la Belle Province clung stubbornly to the old ways and treated them as nonpersons, on the same level as chattel, children and imbeciles. It would take another twenty-two year struggle to achieve feminine suffrage.