Nellie McClung: Assessing Her Impact on Women’s Rights (Post 3 of 3)


Colorful Canadian Mural about Votes for Women

Mural on Dr. Emily Stowe Way (formerly Elizabeth Street) in Toronto. Photo © Resa McConaghy – Artist: Jacqueline Comrie Garrido.

Welcome to the final installment of Nellie McClung week! This post is written by both Resa and I. As Resa explained in her wonderful post two days ago, Nellie was pivotal in Manitoba being the first Canadian province to grant women the right to vote. The momentous date was January 28, 1916. After this important day, Nellie continued to fight for women’s right to vote in other provinces.

When Were Women Granted the Right to Vote in Other Canadian Provinces?

On March 14, 1916, just two months after Manitoba amended its legislation, women in Saskatchewan gained the legal right to vote. One month later (April 19), Alberta followed suit. The following year, on April 5, 1917, British Columbia changed its laws about women’s right to vote. Just one week later, on April 12, Ontario did the same.

The next province in which women gained the right to vote was Nova Scotia; the momentous day was April 26, 1918. Almost exactly one year later (April 17, 1919), New Brunswick amended its election act to include women. One month passed (May 20) before Yukon made the same change to its electoral legislation.

It was on May 3, 1922, that women residing on Prince Edward Island gained the legal ability to vote. Newfoundland and Labrador followed soon after on April 3, 1925. Women in Quebec and the Northwest Territories had to wait longer; Quebec granted women the right to vote on April 25, 1940, and it was a decade later on June 12, 1951, that Northwest Territories became the last province to make the change.

Nellie in the Alberta Legislature

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The Early Life of Nellie McClung, Notable Feminist, Advocate & Author (Post 1 of 3)

Nellie McClung, as Painted by Mandy van Leeuwen

Mural of Nelly McClung in Winnipeg. Photo © Resa McConaghy – Artist: Mandy van Leeuwen.

Nellie McClung (1873-1951) was a suffragist, political and social activist, feminist, author, and, on a personal note, she means a lot to Resa and I (Resa wrote about Canadian women’s right to vote in her #GreenWhiteViolet guest post, which included mention of Nellie).

Nellie worked tirelessly toward securing women’s rights in Canada, and for that we commend her. To celebrate Nellie, Resa and I have created “Nellie week,” of which this is the first of three posts. We will unveil the collaboration in three parts at each of our blogs to fully give this amazing lady the spotlight she deserves. Today is post number one.

As for why we are doing this project now, a major source of inspiration was the mural display that Resa attended in Winnipeg that honored Nellie and her Suffragettes, with a focus on an important play they produced in Manitoba. Also, we wish to celebrate 2016 marking the 100-year anniversary of Manitoba securing the right for women to vote and 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday.

Now, let’s begin, shall we? Here is a look at the early part of Nellie’s life.

Nellie McClung’s Childhood & Young Adulthood

On October 20, 1873, Nellie Letitia Mooney (her maiden name) McClung was born in Chatsworth, Ontario. She was the sixth and final child of farmers John Mooney and Letitia McCurdy. Nellie grew up in Souris Valley, Manitoba, where she did not attend school until age 10. By the age of 16, she had obtained her teaching certificate and soon after taught school.

Shortly thereafter, she moved to Manitou, Manitoba to teach at Hazel School. It was while teaching there that Nellie met Annie McClung and became involved in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), where Annie was the provincial president. Nellie soon met Annie’s eldest son Robert Wesley McClung, and the two were married when Nellie was 23 years old.

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