|Title:||A Woman On the Bench|
|Tags:||Alberta, autobiography, Canada, Canadiana, court system, essay, non-fiction|
Emily Murphy relates her experience as a magistrate of a women's only court in Alberta. [Suggest a different description.]
Author Bio for Murphy, Emily F.
Emily Murphy (1868-1933) was a Canadian judge and author. She is best known for her contributions to women's rights and her participation as one of the "famous five" in the landmark "Persons Case". Born in Cookstown, Ontario, her family produced several lawyers and judges. She moved to Alberta with her husband, an Anglican minister. She became involved in the community and realized the plight of poor women who due to the laws at the time could be left destitute if their husbands abandoned them. She started a campaign to assert women's rights over property which led to the passing of the Dower Act in 1916. After finding out that women could not attend court cases where there were women defendants she persuaded the government to start appointing female judges. She became the first female judge in Canada in 1916.
In 1917 she found that women could not be appointed to the Senate because according to the British North America Act a woman was not defined as a 'person'. Thus started the famous 'Persons' case to have women declared 'persons' under Canadian law. The case made it to the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled against them. At the time the Supreme Court was not the final arbiter and Murphy and her four co-plaintiffs appealed to the Privy Council in Britain, the "Star Chamber". They ruled in favour of the case which led to more equitable treatment of women in Canada.
Murphy wrote several books and pamphlets, mainly about her views on Canadian social life. In 1922, she wrote a book under the pseudonym, Janey Canuck, called "The Black Candle" about drug abuse. Opium addiction was a serious issue at the time. (Women of Influence: Canadian Women and Politics, Penny Kome)
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