Women You Should Know – Clara Brett Martin – 1874-1923

Clara Brett Martin – 1874-1923

Clara Brett Martin was born in 1874 in Toronto Ontario. She graduated from Trinity College in Toronto with an honors B.A. in mathematics. After being refused admission as a law student by the Law Society of Upper Canada, Martin sought the assistance of some influential individuals and shortly after, she was able to begin her journey. In due course, Martin received the distinction of becoming the first woman lawyer in the British Empire. Martin received a Bachelor of Civil Law in 1897 and began her law practice in Toronto in 1899. As a result of being the first woman lawyer to enter a courtroom, her presence was quite unsettling to her male counterparts. Throughout her life Martin was active in several women’s groups, but she never married. Martin’s strong determination enabled her to pave the way for future women to pursue careers in law. However this road proved to be a difficult one, as 22 years later only 11 women had followed in her footsteps. It would be many years before a significant number of women entered this primarily male-dominated profession. Clair Brett Martin died on October 30, 1923 at the age of 49 years.


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