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Reading: Girls as Pedlars

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Emily Murphy was a prolific writer, published in Canadian, American, and English periodicals on topics ranging from choosing a bride, confederation, and sterilization. Sometimes, she had more than one article published in the same edition of a magazine, so she used a variety of pseudonyms or pen-names, such as: Janey Canuck; Earl or Earlie York; Emily Chetwood; Emily Ferguson; Mrs. Arthur Murphy; as well as Judge, Magistrate, or Mrs. Emily Murphy.

She also wrote a number of books, including:

  • The Impressions of Janey Canuck Abroad (1902) - Travel and description of England
  • Janey Canuck in the West (1910, 1917) - Frontier & pioneer life on the Prairies
  • Open Trails (1912, 1920) - Travel and description of Canada
  • Seeds of Pine (1914, 1922) - Travel and description of Alberta
  • Little Canadian Cousins of the Great North-Western Provinces (1923) - Children in Canada
  • Bishop Bompas (1929) - A history reader for school children

One of her most famous books is The Black Candle (1922), a landmark publication that was very influential in shaping Canadian drug laws that underwent significant changes throughout the 1920s.

Judge Murphy took a deep interest in those who appeared before her, but she felt her efforts to assist drug users were futile. Because of her interest in solving the problem of drug addiction, she undertook a thorough study of the drug trade and the problem of addiction. She interviewed drug users, sent questionnaires to police officials, read studies, reviewed available literature, and worked closely with Canadian narcotics enforcement officials. Thus, when Maclean's decided to publish a series of articles on the drug trade in Canada, Emily Murphy was the expert to whom they turned. Maclean's published five monthly articles, which formed the basis for Part One of The Black Candle.

The Black Candle has been criticized for being a sensational account of the drug trade. But Murphy's great concern for the drug addicts she dealt with, her sense that the drug trade was destroying the young people of the nation coupled with her belief that education would alert people to its dangers (thereby striking a mortal blow to the drug trade) caused her to write in a way calculated to shock and arouse people.

Most of her suggestions were incorporated in the Opium and Narcotic Drug Act of 1929, but her recommendation for the establishment of treatment facilities was ignored, an outcome of partial success.

 
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