Drafting the Famous Five

“We take turns drafting as we make our way south, like cyclists in the Tour de France or geese, changing positions every ten minutes or so when the leader grows tired. I am surprised how much easier it is to follow someone else’s lead in those conditions, stepping where they step, trusting that they know at least something about the way we are going.” —Michael Yankoski in Mapping the Sacred Year

Michael Yankoski reflected on “drafting” when writing about a pilgrimage he made with friends. The walkers took turns leading into the wind, making the way easier for those who followed behind.

Pilgrims draft for each other, cyclists too, and geese. And so do we.

Famous Five monument, Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada

Famous Five monument, Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada

I’ve been drafting the Famous Five my whole life. Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby, Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards were five Canadian women who sought to have women declared “persons,” so that women could be appointed to our Senate.

On this date 87 years ago, April 24, 1928, Canada’s Supreme Court summarized its unanimous decision that women are NOT such persons: “. . .Understood to mean ‘Are women eligible for appointment to the Senate of Canada’ the question is answered in the negative.”

The women kept walking into the wind, drafting for each other, trusting that they knew at least something about they way they were going. One and a half years later, that ruling was overturned on October 18, 1929.

Thanks to them, I vote and own property. Heck, maybe someday I could even be in the Senate.

Then again, with everything that’s going on there these days, maybe not.

Nellie McClung: “Women are Persons” Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada




About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on April 24, 2015, in Arlene Smith, Arlene Somerton Smith, Inspiration, Living life to the fullest, Nostalgia and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. lynneottawa@gmail.com

    Ok I love this and was talking about this to my 16 year old niece and want to share on FB – how best to do that (I’m on my phone at the hospital so I can’t cut and paste – I guess I can do it through your twitter feed?

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