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The Famous Five: Heroes for Today
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Legislation Championed

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Reading: Marriage Settlements

Reading: Western Wife

Reading: Criminal Code Amendment Letter


Murphy and PankhurstThe most well-known of the quintet of prominent Alberta women who established the right of women to sit in the Canadian Senate under the provisions of the British North America Act, Emily Murphy instigated the fight to have women declared "persons" 13 years before it was won in 1929. Although that landmark ruling was the most famous legislation she championed, it was not Murphy's first effort to have legislation enacted.

In 1910, she instigated a movement for the enactment of Dower Law in Alberta. She sought to get married women a caveat against the property of the woman's husband, so that each would be entitled to an interest of one-third the total. This was to protect the wife during her husband's life. The problems that women faced when they had no property rights were many and examples of such cropped up in Nellie McClung's fiction, such as in the case of Mrs. Payne in the novel Purple Springs. As Police Magistrate, Murphy encountered real cases of hardship faced by women due to a lack of property rights in marriage and fought for the justice she believed in.

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