from “Dr. Irene Parlby – by Humphrey Marryat Parlby”

In Alix, Alberta, Famous 5 Persons Case, Museums, Organizations, Pioneer Farming, Settlers on August 6, 2018 at 8:11 AM

From “Dr. Irene Parlby – by Humphrey Marryat Parlby”  Pioneers and Progress Alix Clive Historical Club, 1974 printed by D.W. Friesen & Sons Ltd, Calgary.

This is a more detailed account of my mother’s life than is contained in the family history. [in Pioneers and Progress]

She was born January 9th, 1868, the daughter of Col. E.L. Marryat, of the Royal Engineers.  She spent part of her childhood in India where her father was in charge of building railways. She was an accomplished pianist, having taken lessons in England and Germany.

… while at a party in London, she met Alice Westhead who invited her to come out and visit her at Westhead Ranch near Buffalo Lake.  There she met and married Walter Parlby in March 1897.  The next 16 years were spent in running a home and gardening, and training her son, Humphrey, in the way he should go.

In 1913, she became interested in a Country Women’s Club which had been formed in Alix. This club, of which she was the first secretary, later became Local No. 1 of the United Farm Women of Alberta.  Three years later she was elected Provincial President of the U.F.W.A., a post she held till 1919.  Mother was appointed to the Board of Governors of the University of Alberta, 1919 – 1921.

In 1921, the U.F.A. decided to take political action.  Mother was nominated U.F.A. candidate for the constituency of Lacombe… The election was rough….

The campaign was rough too….  Mother won easily….

When the U.F.A. cabinet was formed, Mother was made Minister Without Portfolio.  She was the second woman to hold that position in the British Commonwealth.  She was one of the five women who led the movement to allow women to sit in the Senate.  In 1920 while on a visit to Britain, she was asked by the government to investigate Co-operative schools in Denmark and Sweden.

In 1930, she was asked by Sir Robert Borden to serve on the Canadian delegation to the League of Nations conference in Geneva.

Mother retired from public life in 1935, but continued to write articles, address meetings and speak on the radio.  In the same year, she was presented by Dr. Wallace, President of the University of Alberta, for an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws, in recognition of her many years of public service.  After her retirement, she went back to her beloved hobby, which was gardening.

Pioneers and Progress and its follow-up, Gleanings, can be purchased at Alix Home Hardware and the Alix Wagon Wheel Museum.  There is more information about Irene Parlby on the “Women of Aspenland” section of

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