Suffragist and Author
The 1998 inductee, Nellie McClung, was a teacher, lecturer, writer, temperance leader, suffragette, wife and mother. She was universally admired for her strength of character. As one of the best know Canadians from the 1910-1920 era, she was instrumental in the lobby for the women’s vote in Manitoba and then Alberta. During the height of her career, Nellie McClung lived on Chestnut Street. This is the time of her as a best selling author and speaker. She could fill the Walker Theatre (reanamed in 2002 to the Burton Cummings Theatre for the Performing Arts) with people coming to hear her speak on women’s rights. For example, in January 1914 she held a “Mock Parliament of Women” at the Walker Theatre. She played the Premier, Sir Rodmond Roblin, while other members of the Political Equality League portrayed other members of the Legislature. This event in and of itself created momentum on the issue of female suffrage.
Two years later, a victorious liberal government granted women full suffrage making Manitoba the first province to do so. Winnipeg is credited with being the first leglislative centre in Canada where women were granted equal voting rights with men. Nellie McClung, who had moved with her family to Alberta in 1916, did the same thing there in 1916 thus giving her an impressive track record. In 1921, she was elected to the Alberta Legislature but was later defeated in 1926 because of her intransigence on temperance and prohibition in the province. Nevertheless, during her five years in the Legislature, she championed mother’s allowances, public health nursing services, free medical and dental services for school children and new laws concerning women’s property rights.
From there, she successfully crusaded to win the right for women to hold a seat in the Senate. This entailed carrying the fight right up to the Supreme Court of Canada to the Privy Council. From 1936 to 1942, she served on the Boards of Governors for the CBC and during that time became a delegate to the League of Nations. She passed away in Victoria in September 1951.