At the time of their victory, the media dubbed the group the "Alberta Five." Over time, as the case took on a privileged position in Canadian women's history, the group became popularly known as the "Famous 5." They have come to represent an entire generation's political activism, including an earlier, nationwide campaign for women's suffrage.
More recently, the case has attracted renewed controversy. Some see the Famous 5 as a symbol of modernity, women's political rebellion and progress, and human rights more generally. Still others have criticized some members of the group as racist and elitist and see their accomplishments as tarnished by associations with the eugenics movement.
Reactions to the Famous 5 have varied widely, but the significance of their contribution to the development of women's rights in Canada was underscored in 2000 with the dedication of a bronze statue called "Women Are Persons!" by Edmonton artist Barbara Paterson in Ottawa and Calgary (1999). The Famous 5 Foundation was established in 1996.
Author CATHERINE CAVANAUGH
Catherine Cavanaugh, "Out of the West: History, Memory and the Persons Case, 1919-2000," in Forging Alberta's Constitutional Framework, 1670-2005, Richard Connors and John Law, eds (2005); Nancy Millar, The Famous Five (1999).
Links to Other Sites
Extraordinary Canadians: Nellie McClung
See online excerpts from Charlotte Gray's biography of legendary Canadian feminist Nellie McClung. From Google Books.
View Historica’s Heritage Minute devoted to Nellie McClung.
“Give us our due!” How Manitoba Women Won the Vote
A fascinating story about the women who fought for, and won, the right to vote in Manitoba, the first province in Canada to grant women the right to vote. From the Manitoba Historical Society.
A profile of Nellie McClung, Canadian writer, suffragette, and activist. From the Calgary Herald feature "Best of Alberta."
The Famous 5 Foundation
The Famous 5 Foundation honours the Famous 5 and other Canadian women. See their biographies of the "Famous 5" as well as the latest news about programs and events.