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Emily Murphy Residence


Other Names:
Emily Murphy House

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
Emily Murphy Residence is an early twentieth century, two-storey home located on a single lot in Edmonton's historic Garneau district, close to the University of Alberta. The home features clapboard siding on the first storey, a shingled facade on the second storey, and a clipped gable roof.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of Emily Murphy Residence lies in its association with renowned jurist, social activist, and author Emily Murphy, who lived in this home from 1919 until her death in 1933.

Emily Murphy was an active contributor to Alberta's public, political and social culture. Drawing upon an ideology of Social Gospel and a belief in the moral superiority of white, middle-class, Protestant values and ethics, she achieved wide acclaim and influence as a jurist, social reformer and author. She arrived in Edmonton in 1907 and quickly established herself as an advocate for the rights of women and children. In 1916, she was appointed as a police magistrate and juvenile court judge for Edmonton, to preside over cases involving girls or women. She was the first woman in the British Empire to attain such a post. Murphy was actively involved in many professional and social movement organizations.

Women’s rights were an area of considerable focus for Emily Murphy and she held posts with many national, women’s organizations, notably as the President of the Federated Women's Institutes of Canada (1919-21), the Vice-President of the National Council of Women (1918-26), the Director of the Canadian Council of Child Welfare (1923-27), and the President of the Canadian Women's Press Club (1913-1920), to name only a few. Additionally, Emily Murphy took up the cause of married women’s property rights and, in 1917, successfully advocated for the passage of The Dower Act by the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, which gave married women the right to one-third of their husband’s estate.

In 1927, Murphy instigated the work of Alberta's "Famous Five” in an effort to have women recognized as persons under the British North America Act and therefore eligible for appointment to the Senate of Canada. Meetings of the Famous Five took place at Murphy’s residence and it was here that their petition to the courts was signed. Following a ruling against them by the Supreme Court of Canada, they appealed to the highest court of the time, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. In a 1929, in a landmark ruling in the legal rights of Canadian women, the Judicial Committee ruled in their favour, recognizing that women were legally persons.

In addition to her social and political achievements, Murphy gained recognition as an influential writer on topical issues like immigration, narcotics and public health. Many of these themes showed up in her novels about western Canada, published under the pen name Janey Canuck. While these stories and other writings were especially popular and expressed views that were widely accepted at the time, their messages were based on beliefs of racial and class superiority and expressed views and opinions that are no longer accepted today. Notable is her writings about narcotics and drug use, which created a perception of a widespread drug problem that had little basis in fact. Additionally, her writings largely blamed Canada’s Black and Chinese communities for the country’s supposed drug use problems and implied that these communities were deliberately attempting to undermine Canada’s social and political structure and values by hooking young people on narcotics. Her writings are partially responsible for government decisions on drug policy and criminal law that have been overly punitive against non-white communities.

Source: Alberta Culture and Status of Women, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: DES 0305)

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of Emily Murphy Residence include such features as its:
- mass, form, and style;
- irregular floor plan;
- clipped gable roof with brick chimney;
- clapboard siding on first storey facade and wood shingling on second storey facade;
- eave brackets, exposed rafters, and wide overhanging open eaves;
- fenestration pattern and style, including original wood frame single-hung and casement windows, Palladian window on second storey, and bay window on east elevation;
- canopy over main entrance with bellcast roof and iron brackets;
- storm door;
- original interior elements, including panelled doors, door hardware, trims, baseboards, fireplace surrounds, and main staircase; and
- landscaped residential lot in residential neighbourhood.


Street Address: 11011 - 88 Avenue NW
Community: Edmonton
Boundaries: Portion of Lot 3, Plan 832 0281
Contributing Resources: Building: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
13 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

3 (ptn.)

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.523624 -113.515750 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1977/06/28

Historical Information

Built: 1912 to 1912
Period of Significance: 1919 to 1933
Theme(s): Governing Canada : Politics and Political Processes
Governing Canada : Security and Law
Historic Function(s): Residence : Single Dwelling
Current Function(s): Education : Post-Secondary Institution

Home of Emily Gowan Murphy (1868-1933), an author, police magistrate, and member of the famous 'Five Persons' who campaigned for the right of women to be considered 'persons' able to sit in the Canadian Senate. The legal battle was fought to the Privy Council in England, where, in 1929, the women finally won their case. She lived in this house from 1919 until her death in 1933. The house represents the typical frame construction of Edmonton residences of that class during the first quarter of the twentieth century.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0512
Designation File: DES 0305
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 28375
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 305)
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