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Louise McKinney

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Louise McKinney
Louise McKinney 1917.jpeg
Louise McKinney in 1917
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta
In office
7 June 1917 (1917-06-07) – 18 July 1921 (1921-07-18)
Preceded byWilliam Moffat
Succeeded byThomas Milnes
ConstituencyClaresholm
Personal details
Born
Louise Crummy

(1868-09-22)22 September 1868
Frankville, Ontario, Canada
Died10 July 1931(1931-07-10) (aged 62)
Claresholm, Alberta, Canada
Political partyNon-Partisan League
Other political
affiliations
United Farmers
Spouse
James McKinney
(m. 1896)
Children1 son
Occupation
  • Women's rights activist
  • Politician

Louise McKinney (née Crummy; 22 September 1868 – 10 July 1931) was a Canadian politician, temperance advocate, and women's rights activist. She was the first woman elected into the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and the first woman to serve in a legislature in the British Empire. She served in the Alberta legislature from 1917 to 1921 as a member of the Non-Partisan League. Later she was one of the Famous Five who campaigned successfully for the right of Canadian women to be appointed to the Senate. A former schoolteacher and temperance organizer, she came to Alberta in 1903 as a homesteader.

McKinney was heavily involved in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and she served as president of the Alberta branch for 22 years, from 1908 to 1930. In 1930, she was elected president of the Dominion WCTU, and organized the 1931 World Convention in Toronto. McKinney supported stricter immigration laws and the creation of institutions for "feeble-minded" people. In 2009, the Senate of Canada voted to make McKinney and other members of the Famous Five Canada's first honorary Senators.

Early life[edit]

McKinney was born Louise Crummy on 22 September 1868 in Frankville, Ontario, the sixth of ten children of Richard Crummy and Esther Empey. Her father had immigrated from Ireland to settle in Upper Canada in 1842, later bringing his wife in 1857.[1] McKinney graduated from Athens High School intending to become a physician but faced difficulty entering medical school due to her gender. Instead, she attended Ottawa Normal School to become a teacher.[2] She taught for four years in Ontario before moving to North Dakota, where she taught for three more years.[3]

Involvement in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union[edit]

Woman's Christian Temperance Union convention in Calgary, Alberta, in October 1911
WCTU convention in Calgary, Alberta, in October 1911. McKinney is center in the front row.

While teaching in North Dakota, McKinney became interested in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. In 1894 she became one of the union's local organizers, travelling around the state to preach about the dangers of alcohol.[1] While working in this capacity, she met James McKinney, whom she married in March 1896.[4] They had one son, Williard, named after Frances Williard, the founder of the WCTU.[5] She was elected as the North Dakota WCTU's District President in 1898 and represented her area at the National Convention the following year.[1] The McKinneys continued to farm in North Dakota until 1903, when they moved to the Northwest Territories (present-day Alberta) and settled near Claresholm.[3]

Within a few weeks of arriving in Alberta, McKinney had already set out to establish a local branch of the WCTU. The following year, she met with women from across the Northwest Territories to discuss forming a larger union. The Northwest Territories' WCTU was established, which was later renamed the Alberta and Saskatchewan WCTU when they became provinces in 1905. By 1912, the organization had so many members that it split into separate groups for each province.[6] McKinney served as president of the Alberta WCTU for 22 years, from 1908 to 1930. For the same period, she served as vice-president of the Dominion WCTU. In 1930, she was voted president of the Dominion WCTU and organized the 1931 World Convention in Toronto, where she was elected vice-president of the World WCTU.[5]

Political career[edit]

McKinney ran for a seat in the Alberta Legislature for the electoral district of Claresholm in the 1917 general election, the first election in which women were allowed to vote.[7] She defeated Liberal incumbent William Moffat as a candidate for the Non-Partisan League.[8] In winning the election, she became the first woman elected to a legislature in the British Empire.[a] Much of her term in office was focused on working towards more effective prohibition, and she gained a reputation as a capable debater. Together with Henrietta Muir Edwards, she drafted and introduced a motion which ensured widows would receive a portion of their husbands' estate.[7] After passing, it became known as the Dower Act.[9]

Several of her fellow Famous Five members, including Parlby, Murphy, and McClung, were supporters of the eugenics movement in Alberta. It is unknown whether McKinney supported mandatory sterilization of "mental defectives", but she advocated for the creation of institutions to prevent the reproduction of feeble-minded people.[10] McKinney also indirectly supported the eugenics movement by promoting stricter immigration laws.[11]

Statue of McKinney in Calgary, Alberta
Statue of McKinney in Calgary, Alberta

She ran for a second term in the 1921 Alberta general election as a member of the United Farmers. She was defeated by independent candidate Thomas Milnes by a margin of 46 votes.[12] Although she never ran for political office again, she remained active and was one of four women, and the only woman from Western Canada, selected to sign the Basis of Union for the United Church of Canada in 1925.[13][14]

Persons Case[edit]

McKinney was one of the Famous Five, along with Irene Parlby, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Emily Murphy and Nellie McClung, a group of five women who fought for the right to be considered "persons" and be eligible to serve in the Senate of Canada.[15] The case is officially titled Edwards v Canada (AG) but is popularly known as the Persons Case. In 1927, the case was taken to the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled that women were not eligible to serve in the Senate. In 1929, the ruling was appealed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Canada's highest court at the time.[16] The Judicial Committee overturned the Supreme Court's decision, and the first woman, Cairine Wilson, was appointed to the Senate the following year.[17]

Death and honours[edit]

McKinney fell ill during the WCTU World Convention in June 1931, and her sickness became worse after her return to Claresholm. She died after returning home the following month, less than two years after her victory in the Persons Case.[18] Her death came as a shock to the WCTU, and tributes came from across the country and the world.[19]

In 1939, the government of Canada recognized McKinney as a Person of National Historic Significance. A plaque commemorating this is on display at the post office in Claresholm.[20] In 1997, the Persons Case was recognized as a National Historic Event.[21] In 2000, two identical monuments were created in Calgary, Alberta, and near the Senate of Canada Building, in Ottawa, Ontario.[22] The monuments, called Women are Persons!, depict the members of the Famous Five reading the news about their victory in the Persons Case.[23] The monuments were later featured on the $50 banknote of the Canadian Journey series.[24] In October 2009, the Senate voted to name McKinney and the rest of the Famous Five Canada's first "honorary senators".[25]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ One other woman, Roberta MacAdams, was also elected in the 1917 general election, but McKinney holds the distinction of being first as she was sworn in before MacAdams.[5]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c MacEwan 1975, pp. 139–140
  2. ^ White 2000, pp. 133–134
  3. ^ a b "The Famous Five – Louise McKinney – Private Life". Alberta Online Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 8 December 2010. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  4. ^ Chambers 1921, p. 488
  5. ^ a b c Forster 2004, pp. 166–167
  6. ^ "The Famous Five – Louise McKinney – Involvement with WCTU". Alberta Online Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 8 December 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  7. ^ a b White 2000, pp. 136–137
  8. ^ "Election results for Claresholm, 1917 (Alberta general election)". Alberta Heritage Community Foundation. Archived from the original on 8 December 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  9. ^ "The Famous Five – Louise McKinney – Career as Politician". Alberta Online Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 8 December 2010. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
  10. ^ "Louise McKinney". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  11. ^ Gibbons, Sheila. "McKinney, Louise". The Eugenics Archives. Archived from the original on 22 August 2022. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  12. ^ "Election results for Claresholm, 1921 (Alberta general election)". Alberta Heritage Community Foundation. Archived from the original on 8 December 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  13. ^ White 2000, p. 131
  14. ^ "The Famous Five – Louise McKinney". Alberta Online Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 8 December 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2022.
  15. ^ Sharpe 2013, p. 7
  16. ^ Brown, Wayne (January 2001). "Electoral Insight". Elections Canada. Archived from the original on 27 April 2006. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  17. ^ Sharpe & McMahon 2007, p. 190
  18. ^ White 2000, pp. 138–139
  19. ^ MacEwan 1975, p. 145
  20. ^ "McKinney, Louise National Historic Person". Parks Canada. Archived from the original on 21 November 2021. Retrieved 21 August 2022.
  21. ^ "Persons Case National Historic Event". Parks Canada. Archived from the original on 11 June 2022. Retrieved 11 June 2022.
  22. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Meet the sculptor who immortalized Canada's Famous Five". Senate of Canada. Archived from the original on 22 February 2022. Retrieved 11 June 2022.
  23. ^ "Statues and Monuments". heroines.ca. Archived from the original on 11 August 2020. Retrieved 11 June 2022.
  24. ^ "Canadian Journey Series $50 Note". Bank of Canada Museum. Archived from the original on 14 March 2022. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
  25. ^ "Alberta's Famous Five named honorary senators". The Globe and Mail. The Canadian Press. 11 October 2009. Archived from the original on 13 May 2022. Retrieved 21 August 2022.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]