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An Historical look at Women

            No study of our country’s history would be complete without examining the role that women have played in it all. At Canada’s beginning, women were considered little more than male property, at least from a legal aspect. Today, women are viewed as valuable and equally capable members of society, at least from a legal aspect. It has been a long and often difficult journey between a time when it was illegal to steal a cow but legal to abduct a woman, and the rights given to women today. Thankfully, there were many brave, intelligent and determined women willing to take great risks to better the lives of all women of their time and those who came after them. .
             Some of the most notable pioneers of women’s rights in Canada were a group of women who would become known as The Famous Five. These women, however, first made their mark on Canadian history as individuals. The group included Judge Emily Murphy, the first magistrate in the British Empire, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Convenor of Laws for the National Council of Women, Louise McKinney, the first women to be elected to a legislature in the British Empire, Irene Pariby, an Alberta cabinet minister, and Nellie McClung, who was instrumental in making Manitoba the first province to grant women the right to vote in 1916. Together they went to the Supreme Court of Canada to have women recognized as “persons” under the BNA Act. Those who wanted to keep women from being appointed judges and senators claimed that women weren’t eligible for these positions because they weren’t noted as “persons” under the law. The Supreme Court agreed, but the Famous Five took the “Persons Case” to the Privy Council of Great Britain, Canada’s highest court of the time. On October 18, 1929 the Privy Council legally recognized women a s “persons” under British common law.