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The Famous Five: Heroes for Today
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"Three Other Persons"

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


Kay Sigurjonsson, "Three Other Persons". Courtesy of Glenbow Archives.

The Famous Five have been justly honoured for their role in having women declared persons, but there were other women who earlier fought to establish the "personhood" of women, according to Mary Eberts of the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto.

These "Three Other Persons" are Clara Brett Martin, Mabel P. French, and Annie Langstaff. Martin, the first Canadian and Commonwealth woman to be admitted as a barrister, fought from 1892 to 1897 to have the Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario) recognize her eligibility. The Law Society interpreted its legislation, dealing with "persons" as excluding women, and Martin twice had to get amendments from the Legislature, in 1892 and 1895, explicitly providing for the admission of women. Mabel P. French confronted similar problems first in New Brunswick and then in British Columbia. Under Statutes dealing with the admission of "persons", the law societies and also the courts of both these provinces ruled French ineligible to practise law. She secured amending legislation in New Brunswick in 1906 and British Columbia in 1912 to establish her eligibility. Dame Annie Langstaff was rejected by the Bar of the Province of Quebec, and its Superior Court and Court of King's Bench (1915) in her efforts to establish she was a 'person' entitled to practise under the Bar Act.

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