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Dower

A women's right to a portion of her husband's property was commonly referred to as a dower in the early twentieth century. Prior to 1917 in Alberta, husbands could sell their property, then abandon their wives and children without leaving them any money. Not very nice is it? Husbands could also leave their estate (property and belongings) to other people they deemed beneficiaries. These people may not even be related to the husband! The Dower Act, passed in 1917 in Alberta, helped protect wives from these possibilities, though it was many years before authorities enforced its provisions. Wives were now legally entitled to at least a third of their husbands' estates, and from 1925, they were required to sign an agreement in order for their husbands to sell their common property. Other laws also provided for child support payments and pensions for divorced mothers and poor widows. Henrietta Muir Edwards summarized these and other women's rights as they existed in 1917 in her booklet, Legal Status of Women in Alberta. She and other leading feminists pioneered the Dower Act and other laws that improved living conditions for formerly married women.

Legal Status of Women in Alberta

Legal Status of Women in Alberta