Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Research, 18:2 (Fall 2008). Copyright © 2008 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Edwards v. Attorney General of Canada ("the Persons case") is a landmark Canadian legal decision. By petition of the Famous Five, this case determined in 1929 that women were "persons" qualified to be appointed to the Senate, and it coined the "living tree" metaphor to command a progressive approach to constitutional interpretation in Canada. Justice Robert Sharpe of the Ontario Court of Appeal and Toronto-based lawyer Patricia McMahon illuminate the rich connections of the Famous Five and other figures in the case to Alberta and Canadian law and politics and go on to evaluate the case's modern legacy.