Manitoba Heritage Council Commemorative Plaques

Lillian Beynon Thomas

Lillian Beynon Thomas
(Courtesy of the Archives of Manitoba)
Installed 1983
Laura Secord School
960 Wolseley Avenue, Winnipeg

Lillian Beynon, advocate journalist and social reformer, became one of the most influential women in western Canada. Through her page in the "Weekly Free Press and Prairie Farmer", she worked to alleviate the isolation of rural women by educating them in the need for social reform and political change.

Together with other middle class women, many from Winnipeg's west-end, she helped to organize the Political Equality League in 1912. Their goal, she argued, was to show Manitobans what political equality could mean to "women and children who were in the power of weak, coarse, unfair, sick or brutal men."

Through peaceful means, including a satirical Mock Parliament, they persuaded the legislature to grant votes to women. On 27 January 1916 the Manitoba Legislature became the first in Canada to recognize women's suffrage.

She married a colleague, Vernon Thomas, who supported her literary and political work. She was later active in establishing theatre in Manitoba, and became a successful novelist and playwright.