The Famous Five
The Famous Five were a group of five female social activists who challenged the constitution by asking Canada the question, “Are women ‘qualified persons’?” The group consisted of Emily Murphy (standing next to empty seat), Nellie McClung (holding the newspaper), Louise McKinney (pointing at the newspaper), Henrietta Muir Edwards (sitting and raising her teacup), and Irene Parlby (sitting and holding her hands to her face). The case would come to be known as the ‘Persons’ Case, and would take two years for the women to find victory in the judicial system. They first submitted a petition to the Supreme Court of Canada, but the court ruled in favour of the constitution. Then they took the case to England’s Privy Council, who finally declared women persons on October 18th, 1929. Over time the ‘Persons’ case case has become a pivotal turning point in Canadian women’s history, and is celebrated as a success of women’s equality. The monument on Parliament Hill, entitled “Women are persons!”, was created by Barbara Patterson. It was unveiled on the 71st anniversary of the ruling in 2000, and captures the moment that the women found out they won their case. The figures are placed at ground level and an open chair is available so that visitors can join in with the Famous Five, celebrating the success of the case, of women, and of Canada.