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The Famous Five: Heroes for Today
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Women's Experiences in Cities and Towns

Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource.ca and The Famous Five Foundation


Reading: "Canadian Girl"


Rutherford HouseWomen who lived in urban locales experienced life somewhat differently than rural women. Not nearly as isolated as farmwomen, they lived in close quarters with many other families. These women were as likely to see each other in their every day lives as at local clubs. Many women hosted "at-homes", where women could openly discuss a variety of topics, including female suffrage and prohibition. Emily Murphy and Nellie McClung (who both lived in Edmonton) delighted in these social gatherings.

Western Canadian towns and cities each promoted themselves as the best places to live and do business, but despite their growth, these fledgling communities were not without their social problems. The rapid pace of construction many of these communities sustained created poor living conditions for some, while the influx of immigrants drove up the prices for dwellings. The poor conditions exacerbated social problems such as drunkenness and prostitution. In the midst of social disarray, leading social reformers such as Emily Murphy correlated the rise of social problems with the influx of immigrants and sought to limit certain ethnic groups from entering Canada.

Heritage Trail: Rutherford House
In the early decades of the 1900s, a crucial part of the social circuit was the afternoon tea party. And according to historian Lisa Mort-Putland, none were more prestigious than those at Rutherford House in Edmonton.
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