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Early Rights Movement


Cartoon on women's suffrage from the Grain Growers Guide, 1914.  Glenbow ArchivesDuring the early 20th century, Albertan women were heavily involved in the equal rights movement. In fact, early Alberta seemed to be an environment that encouraged the activism of women in the political sphere for many reasons. Firstly, Alberta was a pioneer province in which both women and men came to break the land and establish a family economy and home. To overcome the numerous obstacles involved in pioneering, women and men often worked long hours alongside each other both in and outside the home. As a result, the conventions of the private and public sphere (in which women's work and power was limited to the home while men conducted all business and political affairs outside the home) were blurred and many women believed that their contribution to both spheres entitled them participation in political decision-making. 
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Heritage Trails #242  - Irene Parlby and the "Persons" Case

M. Aubrey talks about Irene Parlby, her coming to Canada, her MLA-ship, and her involvement in the Dower Act, "Persons" Case and League of Nations.

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Secondly, a large proportion of the female settlers in Alberta were educated middle-class British women. The equal rights movement was already in full swing in England among this class of women and many of these immigrants brought over their liberal ideas to Canada.  As we will see, many of the leaders of the movement in Alberta, such as Irene Parlby, were British immigrants. Thirdly, as discussed in the last section on community organization, Albertan women were rapidly organizing. Although their organizations represented a wide range of interests and origins, they often unified together to form a strong coalition that served to influence government. All these factors played a role in the three main equal rights movements of the period: the suffrage movement, the property rights movement and the Persons Case.

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Encountering Emily: Alberta Women's Correspondence with Magistrate Murphy




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