Henrietta Muir Edwards

A legal expert, Henrietta Muir Edwards spent her long life advocating for the rights of women and children in Canada. Her accomplishments included opening, with her sister Amelia, the Working Girls Association, a forerunner of the YWCA. She helped found the National Council of Women of Canada and the Victorian Order of Nurses. She also published the first magazine for working women in Canada. She was 80 in 1929 when she and the other "Famous Five" women finally won the Persons Case which recognized the legal status of women as persons under the BNA Act, a milestone legal victory for Canadian women.


December 18, 1849, in Montreal, Quebec


November 10, 1931, in Fort Macleod, Alberta

Causes of Henrietta Muir Edwards

Henrietta Muir Edwards supported many causes, especially those involving the legal and political rights of women in Canada. Some of the causes she promoted were

  • temperance
  • raising the age of consent
  • equal grounds for divorce
  • equal parental rights
  • mothers' allowances
  • reform of the prison system in Canada.

The career of Henrietta Muir Edwards:

  • In Montreal Henrietta Muir, with her sister Amelia, founded the Working Girls Association, a forerunner of the YWCA in 1875.
  • She launched and edited Women's Work in Canada, the first Canadian magazine for working women.
  • In 1883, Henrietta Muir Edwards moved with her husband and three children to Saskatchewan.
  • She was involved with the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) from 1886.
  • With Lady Aberdeen, the wife of the Governor General of Canada, Henrietta Muir Edwards started the National Council of Women in 1893. Henrietta Muir Edwards worked with the organization for more than 30 years.
  • Again with Lady Aberdeen, Henrietta Muir Edwards helped found the Victorian Order of Nurses in 1897.
  • Henrietta Muir Edwards and her family moved to Alberta in 1903.
  • In 1908, Henrietta Muir Edwards compiled a summary of Canadian federal and provincial laws relating to women and children.
  • She wrote handbooks on women and Canadian law - Legal Status of Women in Canada in 1917 and Legal Status of Women in Alberta in 1921.
  • Henrietta Muir Edwards was one of the "Famous Five" in the Persons Case which established the status of women as persons under the BNA Act in 1929.

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Munroe, Susan. "Henrietta Muir Edwards." ThoughtCo, Feb. 5, 2017, thoughtco.com/henrietta-muir-edwards-508315. Munroe, Susan. (2017, February 5). Henrietta Muir Edwards. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/henrietta-muir-edwards-508315 Munroe, Susan. "Henrietta Muir Edwards." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/henrietta-muir-edwards-508315 (accessed March 21, 2018).