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Election of the First Female MLA's, MP's

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


Irene ParlbyIn the first election in which women were allowed to vote and run for office, two women were elected, fulfilling women's long-cherished dream of having a political voice. On June 7, 1917, Alberta's Louise McKinney and Roberta MacAdams became the first women elected to a provincial legislature. As Louise McKinney was sworn in first, she has the distinction of being the first female legislator elected in the British Empire.

Four years later, in 1921, Irene Parlby was appointed Minister without Portfolio in the United Farmer's government, thus becoming the first woman in Alberta (and the second woman in the British Empire) to serve as a cabinet minister. Around the same time, Nellie McClung was also elected to the Alberta Legislature, as a Liberal member. As members of different, and sometimes opposing parties, these women had the opportunity to meet in their province's political institutions. 

That same year, Agnes Macphail of Ontario became the first woman elected to the House of Commons.

Not until after the success of the Persons' Case did a woman make it into the highest chamber of Canada's House of Commons. In 1930, the honourable Cairine Wilson of Ontario became the first female senator in Canada—to the disappointment of many Albertans who had hoped to see Emily Murphy appointed.

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            For more on women and the vote in Canada, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
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