Irene Parlby

Mary Irene Parlby (born Mary Irene Marryat , January 9, 1868 – July 12, 1965) was a Canadian feminist and social activist of English origin . She was an advocate of women farmers’ rights.


Parlby was born in London , England , daughter of Col and EL Marryat. 1 2 He emigrated to Canada in 1896. In 1913 he helped found the first local of the United Farmers of Alberta. In 1921 she was elected representative to the Alberta Assembly by the Lacombe district and remained in office for 14 years. She was chosen minister without portfolio, being the first woman to hold that position in the Canadian province of Alberta.

Parlby was one of “The Five Famous” or “The Five Brave”, 3 who through a lawsuit known as the “People Case” succeeded in ensuring that women were recognized as “qualified persons” in accordance with the Constitution of Canada and therefore apt to be part of the Senate . Like her other four companions, Parlby was a strong advocate of eugenics and even proposed the sterilization of the mentally handicapped. 3

Parlby was president of the United Farmers of Alberta between 1916 and 1919. As such she promoted improvements in health care and lobbied for the opening of municipal hospitals and mobile medical and dental clinics . In 1921 she was elected legislator and provincial minister.

She was the last survivor of “The Five Famous.” 3

He died in Red Deer , Alberta, in 1965 at age 97.


In 1966, and posthumously, the government of Canada named it personage of national historical relevance. In Alix, Alberta, there is a commemorative plaque. 4 The famous “People’s Case” was recorded as an event of national historical significance in 1997. 5 Also in October 2009, the Canadian Senate voted to appoint Parlby and the rest of the country’s “five famous” honorary senators . 6


  1. Back to top↑ Cavanaugh, Catherine (March 4, 2015). Mary Irene Parlby . The Canadian Encyclopedia (English) (online edition). Historica Canada . ISBN  0-88830-326-2 . Retrieved on July 23, 2016 .
  2. Back to top↑ Sanderson, Kay (1999). 200 Remarkable Alberta Women (in English) . Calgary : Famous Five Foundation. P. 43.
  3. ↑ Jump to:a b c Kome, Penney (1985). Women of Influence: Canadian Women and Politics (1st edition). Toronto : Doubleday Canada. Pp. 31-32. ISBN  978-0-385-23140-4 .
  4. Back to top↑ Directory of Federal Heritage Designations (ed.). Parlby, Irene, National Historic Person (in English) . Parks Canada.
  5. Back to top↑ Directory of Federal Heritage Designations (ed.). “Persons Case National Historic Event” (in English) . Parks Canada.
  6. Back to top↑ «Alberta’s Famous Five named honorary senators» . The Globe and Mail (in English) . October 11, 2009 . Retrieved on July 23, 2016 .