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Ramsland, Sarah Katherine (1882– 1964)

Sarah Ramsland.
Saskatchewan Archives Board R-A7553

Sarah McEwen was born July 19, 1882, in Minnesota, the granddaughter of a Democratic member of the state legislature. She taught school before her marriage to Magnus O. (Max) Ramsland. The Ramslands moved to Buchanan after 1905, where Max brokered real estate. Max Ramsland was elected as a Liberal MLA for Pelly in 1917 but died in the influenza epidemic of November 1918. The Liberals felt obliged to support his widow and three children. Following a precedent set the previous year in British Columbia, they invited Mrs. Ramsland to run in the by-election. Women’s issues were not raised in the campaign. Neither her sex nor her widowhood made much difference to the voters, who elected her (as Saskatchewan’s first woman MLA), although with a smaller majority than her husband had received. Ramsland’s performance in the Legislature was clean but undistinguished. Ramsland was neither a feminist nor a social-reform activist. She was simply a loyal Liberal backbencher. Ramsland was re-elected in 1921 by a reduced margin, and was defeated by a Progressive candidate in 1925. Hours before her final legislative session ended, she introduced a resolution calling for an amendment to federal divorce laws that would permit women to apply for divorce on the grounds of a spouse’s adultery, on equal terms with men. After her defeat, Ramsland worked for the provincial library. She was active in several women’s organizations, later married Regina businessman W.C.F. Scythes, and died April 4, 1964. Not until the CCF victory in 1944 was another woman elected to the Saskatchewan Legislature.

Elizabeth Kalmakoff

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Further Reading

Kalmakoff, Elizabeth. 1994. “Naturally Divided: Women in Saskatchewan Politics, 1916–1919,” Saskatchewan History 46 (2): 3–18; ——. 1993. “Woman Suffrage in Saskatchewan.” MA thesis, University of Regina.
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