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The Famous Five

Emily MurphyMany women who had participated in the prohibition and suffrage campaigns rose to political prominence.  In 1916, Emily Murphy, a leader in the female suffrage campaign in Edmonton, was appointed Judge of the city's new Women's Court. She was the first female to become a magistrate in the British Empire. 


Henrietta Muir Edwards Henrietta Muir Edwards, who had encouraged the WCTU to fight for female suffrage, became a respected authority on the legal status of women. 




Louise McKinney Louise McKinney, president of the Alberta WCTU, represented the Non-Partisan League in Claresholm in the 1917 provincial election. She became the first of two women to be elected to the Alberta Legislature. 



Nellie McClung In the next election in 1921, feminist writer Nellie  McClung won a seat for the Liberals in Edmonton, and UFWA president Irene Parlby was elected MLA for Lacombe. Parlby was also appointed Minister Without Portfolio, the second female to become a cabinet minister in the British Empire. 

Irene Parlby These members of the "Famous Five" later waged a battle with the federal government to have women legally considered as "persons" under the British North America (BNA) Act, therefore eligible for appointment to the Senate.

Their case went all the way to the Judicial Committee of the British Privy Council in London.  In a victory for women across Canada, the  Famous Five won their case and officially became "persons" under Canadian law.

Visit the Famous Five Foundation's website for more information about the persons case and these five pioneering women!



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