Nellie McClung- A Canadian Feminist

Nellie McClung

Helen "Nellie" Laetitia Mooney was born October 20, 1873 in a log cabin on Garafraxa Road, two kilometers from Chatsworth, Ontario. She and her family moved to Manitoba when she was six years old.
One of Nellie\'s best influences was her mother. Her family\'s influence was no doubt the reason she became an activist. Her mother thought that every child had the right to an education, and her whole family encouraged her to learn all she could. (9, Wright) Nellie at age ten, went to school at Northfield School. This is where her education started.
Nellie\'s dream was to be a teacher like her sister Hannah. Teaching was one of the few jobs open to women. She started her \'voyage\' at age fifteen by passing the Second Class Teachers\' Examination. She went on to earn a higher teaching certificate at Winnipeg Collegiate in 1893. She went on to teach at Hazel Public School near Manitou, Manitoba.
We study Nellie McClung because she was an internationally celebrated feminist and social activist. Her success as a platform speaker was legendary. Her earliest success was achieved as a writer, and during her lengthy career she authored four novels, two novellas, three collections of short stories, a two-volume autobiography and various collections of speeches, articles and wartime writing, to a total of sixteen volumes. Two of her most famous books are: Clearing In The West and The Stream Runs Fast. All this served as a "pulpit" from which McClung could preach her gospel of feminist activism and social transformation. She was convinced that God\'s intention for creation was a "Fair Deal" for everyone; and that Canada, particularly the prairie West, was a perfect place to begin to bring that about. Women\'s suffrage, temperance and the ordination of women were keystones in the battle - engaged. In contrast to contemporary stereotypes, with a wit and compelling humor that won over enemies as it delighted her allies.
Nellie was a curious girl, she was always asking questions. This was not commonly seen among girls in her time. As a small child she would want to participate in sports with the boys, although she was always told she wasn\'t allowed. "I was hoping there would be a race for girls under ten, or that girls might enter with the boys. But the whole question of girls competing in races was frowned on. Skirts would fly upward and legs would show! And it was not nice for little girls, or big ones either, to show their legs."(2, Wright)
As many great philosophers do, Nellie would always ask: Why? It seemed as though she always had to get an answer. She loved to think, dream about one day seeing men and women as equals. Nellie was always trying to make everybody equal. During her teaching days, she would organize football (as well as other sports) and let the girls participate along side with the boys.
Nellie was first introduced to the feminist movement by a woman named Annie McClung. It was Annie who first inspired Nellie to take a stand for women\'s rights. (16, Wright) Annie\'s son (Wesley) was also the man who Nellie married. She married at the age of 23 in a Presbyterian Church in Wawanesa, Manitoba.
Nellie shortly after her marriage, devoted her life to helping women fight for a better world. She saw too many women being mistreated by their drunken husbands. She saw alcohol as a major problem, husbands would get drunk and then assault the women. Nellie though that if women obtained the right to vote, they could succeed in changing the liquor laws. Nellie was not alone in this view. In Britain and the United States, as well as in Canada, the demand for women\'s suffrage was closely linked with the demand for prohibition. (24, Benham) One of the reasons why prohibition was linked to the struggle for women\'s rights in the early 1900s was that a wife had almost no legal control then over how a husband spent his pay. Tragically, some husbands spent it on liquor rather than on food and clothing for their family. Nellie later joined the W.C.T.U. (Women\'s Christian Temperance Union). The purpose of the W.C.T.U. was to fight the abuse