Together, they are known as the Famous 5—the women who struggled to
have women declared "persons" so they could be appointed to the
Canadian Senate. Individually, each was a prominent women's leader in
her own right. On the following pages, we will meet Emily Murphy,
Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, and Nellie
McClung. We will learn about their private lives, as well as their
public involvements and achievements. We will also learn about the
major causes of the day, and why they were important.
Female Suffrage was achieved in Canada during the lifetime of these
women. Each of them worked to gain women the right to vote, and
their efforts were instrumental in changing public perception about
women's roles and rights. We will examine the arguments for and
against allowing women to vote. We will also look at the groups
involved in promoting female suffrage, and how, when and why women
were granted the right to vote—and what happened next.
The ‘Persons’ Case was another landmark victory for women, and it
is the achievement for which we commemorate the Famous 5. We will
examine the cause for which these women fought, and trace its progress
through the early disappointment to the final victory, to the
reactions and effects that resulted.
Although achieving female suffrage and winning the 'Persons' Case
were highlights of the period, other issues and causes were important
to women in Canada during the first half of the 20th century. It is
important to also examine the role of Prohibition and the Temperance movement,
the agitation for equal pay for equal work, the laws surrounding women’s property rights, as well as other
major causes in the development of the young Dominion of Canada.
To obtain further information on other causes the Famous 5 were
involved in, follow these links: