Canadian social reformer (1890-1954)

Canada's first female Member of Parliament, who was elected to the Canadian House of Commons in 1921. Macphail entered Parliament amidst open hostility and ridicule from her fellow members of Parliament and the press. On her election in 1921, the event was not considered front page news by The Globe and Mail and Macphail was interviewed by few newspapers.

Macphail championed causes for her rural constituency, but today is perhaps best remembered for her support for penal reform. Her efforts led to the establisment of a Royal Commission in 1936 to study the penal system. Investigations revealed appalling conditions and subsequently, penal reform. Macphail founded the Elizabeth Fry Society in Canada and was a delegate to the League of Nations.

Macphail was defeated in the 1940 election, and began authoring an agricultural column in The Globe and Mail. She became an MPP for the Ontario Legislative Assembly in 1943, as a representative of the CCF Party. Along with Rae Luckock, she was one of the first two women elected to the Ontario Legislature. She was defeated in the election of 1945, but was re-elected in 1948 for a final term in the Ontario legislature.

She died in Toronto on Feburary 13, 1954.