Nellie Letitia McClung
Nellie Letitia McClung, née Mooney, suffragist, reformer, legislator, author (b at Chatsworth, Ont 20 Oct 1873; d at Victoria 1 Sept 1951). From 1880 she was raised on a homestead in the Souris Valley, Man, and did not attend school until she was 10.
Nellie Letitia McClung, née Mooney, suffragist, reformer, legislator, author (b at Chatsworth, Ont 20 Oct 1873; d at Victoria 1 Sept 1951). From 1880 she was raised on a homestead in the Souris Valley, Man, and did not attend school until she was 10. She received a teaching certificate at 16 and then taught school until she married Robert Wesley McClung in 1896. In Manitou, where her husband was a druggist, she became prominent in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, of which her mother-in-law was provincial president. In 1908 McClung published her first novel, Sowing Seeds in Danny, a witty portrayal of a small western town. It was a national best-seller and was followed by numerous short stories and articles in Canadian and American magazines.
In 1911 the McClungs and their 4 children moved to Winnipeg, where their fifth child was born. The Winnipeg women's rights and reform movement welcomed Nellie as an effective speaker who won audiences with humorous arguments. She played a leading role in the 1914 Liberal campaign against Sir Rodmond Roblin's Conservative government, which had refused women suffrage, but moved to Edmonton before the Liberals won in Manitoba in 1915.
In Alberta she continued the fight for female suffrage and for prohibition, dower rights for women, factory safety legislation and many other reforms. She gained wide prominence from addresses in Britain at the Methodist Ecumenical Conference and elsewhere (1921) and from speaking tours throughout Canada and the US, and was a Liberal MLA for Edmonton, 1921-26.
In 1933 the McClungs moved to Vancouver Island, where Nellie completed the first volume of her autobiography, Clearing in the West: My Own Story (1935, repr 1976), and wrote short stories and a syndicated column. In all, she published 16 books, including In Times Like These (1915, repr 1975). Her active life continued: in the Canadian Authors Association, on the CBC's first board of governors, as a delegate to the League of Nations in 1938 and as a public lecturer.
Forgotten for a decade, she was rediscovered by feminists in the 1960s. Although some criticized her maternalistic support of the traditional family structure, most credited her with advancing the feminist cause in her day and recognizing the need for further progress such as the economic independence of women.
See also Women's Movement.