Annie MacDonald Langstaff – Courage et détermination

Type of resource
Annie MacDonald Langstaff – Courage et détermination
The author outlines the law case undertaken by Annie MacDonald Langstaff (1887-1975) who was refused the right to take the admission exams of the Barreau du Québec in July 1914. The eastern Ontario-born Langstaff married Samuel Gilbert Langstaff in 1904. After giving birth to a daughter, the couple separated in 1906 and Annie moved to Montreal the following year. In 1911, while working as a stenographer in the law office of Samuel W. Jacobs (1871-1938), Langstaff began studying law at McGill University. Three years later, she became the first woman to graduate from a Quebec university with a law degree. Despite her excellent university marks, the Barreau du Québec, after giving her a short interview, refused to let her take the exams on the pretext that she was a woman and that she did not have her husband's written permission. Her husband had by now left Canada and his address was unknown. In January 1915, with the support of Samuel Jacobs, she sought a writ of mandamus from the Quebec Superior Court to require the Barreau du Québec to grant her the right to take the exams. According to judge Henri-Césaire Saint-Pierre, who refused to issue the writ, a woman, especially a married woman, could not be admitted to the law profession because of her sex. He pointed out that the place of woman in society was at home where, in accordance with the laws of nature, she must play the role of loving wife and mother. Furthermore, the judge continued, certain subjects dealt with in court (sodomy, incest, rape, pregnancy, abortion, divorce, etc.) could not be debated by a woman without constituting a violation of public order and the laws of morality and decency. Langstaff filed an appeal with the Court of King's Bench, which also ruled against her. It was not until 1942 that the first woman, Elisabeth C. Monk (1888-1980), who graduated from the McGill's Faculty of Law in 1923, was officially admitted to the Barreau du Québec. Langstaff was posthumously admitted to the Bar in 2006.
Blog Title
Instantanés : La vitrine des archives de BAnQ
10 mai 2017
en & fr
Bergeron, Dominique. “Annie MacDonald Langstaff – Courage et Détermination.” Instantanés : La Vitrine Des Archives de BAnQ, mai 2017.
Find in a library