Nellie McClung

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Nellie Letitia (Mooney) McClung
Nellie McClung.jpg
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta
In office
18 July 1921 (1921-07-18) – 28 June 1926 (1926-06-28)
Succeeded by John Lymburn, Charles Weaver, Charles Gibbs, Warren Prevey and David Duggan
Constituency Edmonton
Personal details
Born (1873-10-20)20 October 1873
Chatsworth, Ontario
Died 1 September 1951(1951-09-01) (aged 77)
Victoria, British Columbia
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Robert Wesley McClung[1]
Occupation social activist

Nellie McClung, born Nellie Letitia Mooney (20 October 1873 – 1 September 1951), was a Canadian feminist, politician, and social activist. She was a part of the social and moral reform movements prevalent in Western Canada in the early 1900s. In 1927, McClung and four other women: Henrietta Muir Edwards, Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney and Irene Parlby, who together came to be known as "The Famous Five" (also called "The Valiant Five"),[2] launched the "Persons Case," contending that women could be "qualified persons" eligible to sit in the Senate. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that current law did not recognize them as such. However, the case was won upon appeal to the Judicial Committee of the British Privy Council—the court of last resort for Canada at that time.

Biography[edit]

Historical plaque honouring McClung, located just south of Chatsworth, ON
Rt. Hon. W.L. Mackenzie King unveiled plaque to the Valiant 5 in the Person's Case

Born in Grey County, Ontario in 1873 she only received six years of formal education and didn't learn to read until she was ten.[3] She later moved with her family to a homestead in the Souris Valley of Manitoba.[4] Between 1904 and 1910, Nellie McClung, her husband Wesley (a pharmacist) and their five children[5] resided in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Nellie McClung moved to Edmonton, Alberta in 1910 where she continued her career as an orator, author, and reformer.[6] An effective speaker with a sense of humour, she played a leading role in the successful Liberal campaign in 1914.[4] In 1921, McClung was elected to the Alberta Legislative Assembly as a Liberal. She then moved to Calgary, Alberta in 1923 where she dedicated herself to her prolific writing career. McClung was the grandmother of outspoken Alberta judge John McClung.

The McClung house in Calgary Alberta, where she resided from 1923 to the mid-1930s, still stands and is recognized as a heritage site.[6] Two other houses in which McClung lived have been re-located to the Archibald Museum[7] near La Rivière, Manitoba in the Rural Municipality of Pembina where they have been restored. The houses are open to the public. The family residence in Winnipeg is also a historic site.[8]

McClung once said "Why are pencils equipped with erasers if not to correct mistakes?" when arguing for the support of equitable divorce laws, of which she was a longtime supporter.[9]

Her great causes were women's suffrage and the temperance. She understood that the First World War had played an important role in broadening the appeal of women's suffrage because the manpower shortages required widespread female employment, making the image of the sheltered female more obviously inapplicable to Canadian circumstances.[10] It was largely through her efforts that in 1916 Manitoba became the first province to give women the right to vote and to run for public office.[11] After moving to Edmonton, she continued the campaign for suffrage. She championed dental and medical care for school children, property rights for married women, mothers' allowances, factory safety legislation and many other reforms. McClung was also a supporter of the then popular social philosophy of eugenics and campaigned for the sterilization of those considered "simple-minded". Her promotion of the benefits of sterilization contributed to the passage of eugenics legislation in Alberta.[12]

She published her first novel Sowing Seeds in Danny in 1908. A national bestseller, it was succeeded by short stories and articles in several Canadian and American magazines. She served as a Liberal member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 1921 to 1926. As an opposition member, her opportunity to press for women's rights was limited, because women were not taken seriously[13]

She was one of The Famous Five (also called The Valiant Five), with Irene Parlby, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Emily Murphy and Louise McKinney. The five put forward a petition, in 1927, to clarify the term "Persons" in Section 24 of the British North America Act 1867. This section had served to exclude women from political office. The petition was successful, clearing the way for women to enter politics in Canada.[11]

Among other honours, in October 2009, the Senate voted to name McClung and the rest of the Five Canada's first "honorary senators."[14]

Bibliography[edit]

In Famous Five statue, Parliament Hill, Ottawa

Sources, other Before They Call ..., are the Dictionary of Canadian Biography[15] and the Nellie McClung Foundation.[16]

Fiction[edit]

  • Sowing Seeds in Danny (1908)
  • The Second Chance (1910)
  • The Black Creek Stopping House (1912)
  • Purple Springs (1921[15] or 1922[16])
  • When Christmas Crossed 'The Peace' (1923)
  • Painted Fires (1925)
  • All We Like Sheep (1926)
  • Be Good to Yourself: A Book of Short Stories (1930)
  • Flowers for the Living (1931)

Non-fiction[edit]

  • In Times Like These (1915)
  • The Next of Kin (1917)
  • Three Times and Out: A Canadian Boy's Experience in German (1918)
  • Clearing in the West: My Own Story (1935)
  • Leaves from Lantern Lane (1936)
  • More Leaves from Lantern Lane (1937)
  • Before They Call ... (1937), a pamphlet[17]
  • The Stream Runs Fast (1945)

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Nellie McClung 1873–1951". Famous Women in Canada. Mount Allison University / The Centre for Canadian Studies. 2001. Retrieved 10 April 2010. 
  2. ^ Kome, Penney (1985). Women of Influence: Canadian Women and Politics (1st ed.). Toronto: Doubleday Canada. pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-0-385-23140-4. 
  3. ^ Sanderson, Kay (1999). 200 Remarkable Alberta Women. Calgary: Famous Five Foundation. p. 23. 
  4. ^ a b Hallett, M. McClung, Nellie Letitia. The Canadian Encyclopedia.
  5. ^ Conrad, Margaret and Alvin Finkel.History of the Canadian Peoples: 1867 to the present. Volume 2. Fifth Edition. Toronto: Pearson, Longman, 2006. p. 134
  6. ^ a b http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=5144
  7. ^ Manitoba Historical Society - Archibald Museum (RM of Pembina)
  8. ^ Manitoba Historical Society - Manitoba historical sites
  9. ^ Strong-Boag,Veronica. Ever a crusader: Nellie McClung, First Wave Feminist. (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1997),279
  10. ^ Strong-Boag, Veronica . Ever a crusader: Nellie McClung, First Wave Feminist. (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1997),278
  11. ^ a b Library and Archives Canada. Nellie Letitia (Mooney) McClung. Celebrating Women's Achievements.
  12. ^ Marsh, James. Eugenics: Keeping Canada Sane. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved on: 25 April 2008.
  13. ^ Veronica Strong-Boag. Ever a crusader: Nellie McClung, First Wave Feminist'.'. (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1997),279
  14. ^ "Alberta's Famous Five named honorary senators." The Globe and Mail, 11 October 2009.
  15. ^ a b "Mooney, Helen Letitia McClung". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b "Published Works". The Nellie McClung Foundation. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Book [sic] Published". Alberta Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 

External links[edit]