The Famous Five
Canada’s Crusaders for Women’s Rights
About the Book
A concise history of the five women who changed the course of history and brought Canadians one step closer to equality.
On August 27, 1927, five women gathered at a house on Edmonton’s Southside to sign a letter that would change the course of Canadian history. Those women were Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, and Henrietta Muir Edwards, who would become known as the Famous Five.
The meeting of the women had been prompted by Emily Murphy, an Alberta magistrate, whose right to render judgements had been challenged by a lawyer who maintained that only men could be appointed as judges because only men were considered “persons” under the British North America Act. The battle for justice that began that Saturday afternoon on took several years and many miles, finally making its way to the Privy Council in London. Finally, in 1929, a landmark ruling found that women were indeed “persons” in the eyes of the law.
But who were these women and how did they come together at such a pivotal moment in Canadian history? The Famous Five is a comprehensive look at the remarkable lives, prolific careers, sometimes disturbing contradictions, and extraordinary achievements of these five women who fought for equality at a time when women were barely recognized as relevant.