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Famous Five

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The efforts of five women known as the Famous Five has had a lasting effect on the rights of women in Canada to this day. These women, all from Alberta, were Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby and Henrietta Muir Edwards. Emily Murphy pressured the Alberta government into passing the “Dower Act’ which protected a wife’s right to one-third (⅓) share of her husband’s property. Nellie McClung was very active with organizations and was involved in politics from 1914 to 1926. Louise McKinney was a very strong supporter of the prohibition. Irene Parlby supported all programs which would benefit the welfare of women and children, she was very interested in the well being of women and children. Henrietta Muir Edwards had a reputation for knowing more about the laws affecting women than even the chief justice of Canada, which was very helpful when dealing with the “Persons Case”. The “Persons Case” allow women to be appointed to the Senate of Canada, this also helped with women’s rights. Women’s rights to vote, to work and everything in between were changed by the Famous Five and the “Persons Case”.

Emily Murphy pressured the Alberta government into passing the “Dower Act’. Born in Cookstown, Ontario in the year 1868, Emily Murphy was the third of six children. Murphy grew up in a family where law and political events were often dinner conversation. One of Murphy’s uncles was a Supreme Court Judge and another a Senator, one of Murphy’s brothers became a lawyer and was appointed to the Supreme Court. In 1887 Emily married Arthur Murphy and they moved out west. After Murphy’s move to Alberta she met an Alberta woman who, after years of hard work supporting the family homestead, was left with nothing when her husband decided to sell the farm. This motivated Murphy to study the legal implications of this injustice. Murphy’s work for women’s rights was strongly supported and encouraged by many women; in 1911 Murphy pressured the...