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Mount Royal University Centennial Mural

Patricia Roome


Emily Spencer Kerby

Panel before

Artist Statement
While doing doctoral research on Henrietta Muir Edwards, one of the “Alberta Famous 5”, I became interested in Emily Spencer Kerby, who lived from 1859-1938. As a good friend and colleague of these women, Emily worked on many feminist projects like the YWCA, the National Council of Women and the 1915 provincial Alberta campaign to give women voting rights. A remarkable pioneer, Emily became the principal of a girl’s school in 1870s, a strong supporter of co-education, and an important partner in building Mount Royal College with her husband Dr. George W. Kerby. As a writer and journalist Emily successfully encouraging the United Church to accept women as ministers. MRC students remember Emily as a wise teacher, great reader and splendid conversationalist whose dynamic personality is captured in the epitaph on her Calgary tombstone: “She Ennobled Life.” Photographs printed in the college yearbooks capture her strong profile and steady gaze: the face of a woman comfortable in expressing controversial opinions.

Artist Bio:
I am a historian specializing in Western Canadian Women’s History. Since 1975 I have a been a faculty member in the Humanities Department at Mount Royal where I developed courses, taught Canadian History and Women’s Studies and chaired the Department. Since 2007 I have been the Director of the MRU Archives and also manager of the Art Collection. My hobby is drawing and painting, primarily in watercolour.