Social activist, Politician, Teacher, Novelist ..

Prior to her works as a politician, Nellie McClung was a young influential teacher and novelist. In her novels, she would include her beliefs and perspectives for women to have rights. These experiences essentially became the fundamental base for her success in future elections. Nellie McClung was involved in several elections. She ran for a position in the Liberal parties of both Manitoba and Alberta because the Conservation party was known to be against the concerns of women rights. It was believed that McClung aided the Manitoba Liberals form the government with the success of her speeches on the campaign trails. In 1917, McClung campaigned for Alberta’s Liberal party election to focus on the areas of female suffrage and prohibition. Finally decided to run as a candidate for the Liberal party in 1921, she repeatedly emphasized on her top two priorities being women’s rights and effective enforcement of liquor laws if she is elected. Although McClung was successful in the election, the Liberals did not form the new government. Nellie McClung served as a member of the Legislative Assembly instead for five years. In Calgary 1925, she once again ran for a position with a platform focusing on women’s rights and prohibition.

Nellie McClung’s National Interests:

– travelling libraries

– travelling medical

– dental clinics

– Public Health Nurses

– to reconstruct the Dower Act (a provincial legislation stating that a married person wishing to dispose of the homestead must have the consent of the other spouse)

– training female prisoners

– giving male prisoners’ wages to their families

– preventing the reduction of allowances paid to widows and single mothers by governments

– equitable wages for both men and women

– against UFA’s Minimum Wage Act

The Famous Five

The Famous Five were five Canadian women, Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, and Nellie McClung, who dedicated their lives to fight for the recognition of women as persons under the British North America. In 1927, these five women asked the Supreme Court of Canada the following question: “Does the word ‘Persons’ in Section 24 of the British North America Act, 1867, include female persons?” The Supreme Court of Canada responded negatively and marked the beginning of the “Person’s Case”.

Timeline of the “Person’s Case”

– 1927: demanded a clarification on the word “persons” under the British North America Act of 1867 from the Canadian Supreme Court

– April 24, 1928: Canadian Supreme Court rejected the Famous Five’s dispute; Famous Five convinced the Canadian Government to appeal to the Judicial Commitee of the British Privy Council

– October 18, 1929: won “Person’s Case”, Canadian women to be legally announced as “persons” and are permitted/eligible to appoint for a position as a senate

To view the timeline of the Famous Five(including the other four members) in details, visit the link below:


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