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 many years and 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.
Barbara Smith was born and raised in Toronto and lived most of her life in Edmonton before settling in the Victoria area in 2006. She has published over thirty books, including The Valiant Nellie McClung, Campfire Stories of Western Canada, The Mad Trapper, and perennial bestsellers Ghost Stories of Alberta, Ghost Stories and Mysterious Creatures of British Columbia, and Ghost Stories of the Rocky Mountains. Barbara was also featured on the Discovery Channel's Hunt for the Mad Trapper.