Muriel McQueen Fergusson
Muriel McQueen Fergusson
PC OC QC
|Senator for Fredericton, New Brunswick|
|Appointed by||Louis St. Laurent|
May 26, 1899|
Shediac, New Brunswick
|Died||April 11, 1997(aged 97)|
Muriel McQueen Fergusson, PC OC QC (May 26, 1899 – April 11, 1997) was a Canadian Senator and the first woman Speaker of the Senate. She is known for a long career of advocating for the less privileged, most often women.
Born in Shediac, New Brunswick, she graduated from Mount Allison University in 1921 with a B.A.. In 1926, she retired from only one year's practice at law in the office of her barrister father, James McQueen, to marry Aubrey S. Fergusson. She lived with her husband in Grand Falls, New Brunswick, for ten years, during which time she opened the Malabeam Tea Room, and organized community activities including founding the Grand Falls Literary Club. She was readmitted to the bar in 1936 to support her family after her husband became ill from earlier injuries acquired during service in the First World War; he died six years later. She gradually took over her husband's practice and soon after became New Brunswick's first female judge of a probate court. She also became clerk of the county court and the circuit court and the town solicitor for Grand Falls.
Fergusson fought for increased participation of women in politics. In 1946, she successfully petitioned for the right of all women in New Brunswick to vote in municipal elections. Soon after, she challenged the ban on women running for Fredericton City Council. Because no one stepped forward to take advantage, McQueen Fergusson ran for Alderman and won by acclamation in 1950 and 1951.
Fergusson also advocated for pay equity and protection of women's and children's rights. She spoke regularly at women's group events on topic of pay equity and wills. She fought to have a pay raise of $100 per year for all male city employees expanded to included female employees as well, up from the proposed $50 per year for females. With the support of letter-writing campaigns by various women's groups, she became the Director of Family Allowances, a position that had originally been restricted to males.
She was appointed to the Senate of Canada in 1953 and was the first woman Speaker of the Senate from 1972 to 1974. She retired in 1975.
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