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Henrietta Edwards Essay Research Paper HENRIETTA MUIR

Henrietta Edwards Essay, Research Paper


Born in Montreal on December 18, 1849, Henrietta Muir Edwards was one of Alberta’s

“Famous Five Women”. She began her fight for woman’s rights at her home in Montreal with

her sister. Here she founded the Working Girls’ Club, which offered meals, reading rooms and

study classes, in 1875. Henrietta and her sister then published the periodical, known as the

“Working Women of Canada”. They paid the costs of publishing the paper by depriving

themselves of all personal luxuries. Henrietta also made money by selling miniature paintings.

In 1886 Henrietta Muir became Henrietta Muir Edwards when she married Dr. Oliver

Cromwell Edwards. Her husband soon took a job at Fort McCloed. Here she met the other four

women involved in Alberta’s “Famous Five Women”. The group included Emily Murphy, Nellie

McClung, Irene Parlby and Louise McKinny. With their help Mrs. Edwards began her fight to

change the law on Woman’s rights. They began by getting the right and the ability to vote. Once

they achieved this new Democratic power, Nellie McClung called a meeting on how they could

best use it. They decided on the formation of a Provincial Laws Committee where Henrietta Muir

Edwards was elected to be the Chairman and Irene Parlby as Vice Chairman. With her new

responsibilities she began to change federal and provincial laws concerning women, marriage,

divorce, adoption, property and dower rights, child protection, minimum wage and widows


In 1916 she published the first edition of “The Legal Status of Women in Alberta”, which

was the same year women achieved the right to vote. In 1921 and 1924 she published to more

issues. Mrs. Edwards then prepared the “Legal Handbook” and kept it up to date. She stayed as

chairman for the “Law Committee of the Council of Women” for over 35 years. She became a

Red Cross leader during the war and when money was scarce during the war, she became the first

woman in Canadian history to be asked by the government to review Canadian Policy. She told

the government more then they wanted to know when she said, “war or no war there should be a

Department of Public Health and a Department of Child Welfare”.

Henrietta Muir Edwards died at Fort McCloed on November 10, 1931. In her honor two

plaques were erected in her honor. The first plaque is located at the entrance to the Senate

Chamber in Ottawa and the other at the post office in Fort McCloed.