Nellie McClung

by Sheri from Yorkton

I have never desired the approval or even tolerance of the people whose interests run contrary to the public good...who believe if they are happy and prosperous, all's well with the world.
 Photos courtesy of British Columbia Archives
Photos courtesy of British Columbia Archives

In my eyes, a hero is someone you look up to, want to be like, or has inspired you in some sort of way. My hero is just that. Her name is Nellie McClung.

Nellie Mooney (her maiden name)-McClung was born on Oct. 20, 1873, in Chatsworth, Ontario. When she was six years old, her family moved to Souris Valley, Manitoba. Nellie was an average girl until about the age of nine, when she began to question the position of women in society.


When Nellie was nine years old, there was to be a picnic for the whole community. There would be baseball, a pony race, an ox race, a slow ox race and foot races. Nellie was hoping there would be races for girls, or that the girls might be able to enter with the boys. When she asked her mother if she could race, her mother replied, "No, when you run your skirt will fly up and it is wrong for women and girls to show their legs."

This bothered Nellie and she thought about it a lot: Why is it okay for boys to show their legs, but not girls? But whenever she asked questions, her mother would quiet her. She realized this was not a matter that she was allowed to discuss. However, she did not put it out of her mind.

 Photos courtesy of British Columbia Archives
Photos courtesy of British Columbia Archives

In 1912, Nellie organized the Winnipeg Politial Equality League, with the aim of advancing the cause of women's sufferage. The league also addressed such issues as the working conditions of women in factory jobs. Although all persons had the right to vote, the British North Act defined "persons" as men. McClung, Emily Murphy and three other women challenged this definition as it applied to the power to appoint women to the senate. This battle became famous as the "Person's Case." As a result, women were legally allowed to be "persons." Because of the League's efforts, Manitoba became the first province/territory to allow women to vote. Alberta soon followed, giving Canadian women the right to vote also.

 Photos courtesy of British Columbia Archives
Photos courtesy of British Columbia Archives

In 1936, McClung was the first woman to be a member of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation of Governors. She was Canada's delegate to the League of Nations in 1938. Throughout her career, McClung wrote 16 books, many articles and two autobiographical works. She died in 1951.

I think Nellie McClung is a hero because, without her, Canadian women might not have the right to vote. THANKS NELLIE!

Page created on 6/30/2004 4:00:30 PM

Last edited 1/6/2017 4:34:59 PM

Related Links

British Columbia Archives: The Time Machine - An excellent history site by the government-sponsored website.
A Celebration of Women Writers

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