Robert Sharpe

Friday, October 18th 2019 | 7:00pm

The 1928 Persons case, declaring women to be legal "persons", eligible for appointment to Canada's Senate, is one of the most important constitutional decisions in Canadian history. This lecture will consider the case in its political and social context and examines the lives and views of the people behind it - Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung and the other members of the "famous five," the politicians who barred women from the Senate, the lawyers who argued the case, and the judges who decided it.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History.


Robert Sharpe has been a member of the Court of Appeal for Ontario since 1999. He practiced law with MacKinnon McTaggart (later Wright McTaggart) and joined the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto from 1976 to 1988, serving as Dean from 1990 until 1995 when he was appointed as a trial judge. From 1988 to 1990, he served as Executive Legal Officer at the Supreme Court Canada.  Robert Sharpe is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Senior Fellow of Massey College, and was awarded the Mundell Medal for Distinguished Contribution to Law and Letters in 2009. He has published several books on law and legal history including The Persons Case: The Origins and Legacy of the Fight for Legal Personhood (with Patricia McMahon) (2007).