Saskatchewan River: Plains Speaking
Pioneer in the fight for women's rights
Hardship and self-reliance developed a strong sense of fair play among
settlers of the Canadian Prairies. It made the region a leader in many political
struggles for equal rights and social justice.
One of the best-known leaders in the right for social justice was Nellie McClung.
Born in Ontario, Nellie Letitia Mooney moved west with her family when she was 10. She became
a teacher and joined her first social cause, the Women's Christian Temperance Union. It was
dedicated to banning alcohol.
After becoming a wife and mother, Nellie McClung campaigned tirelessly against the evils
which plagued childhood in the early part of the century — undernourishment, slums, child
labour, and parental drunkenness. She helped organize the Political Equality League, worked
for the Red Cross, and fought for aid to prisoners of war. She also brought attention to
prison conditions and advocated more liberal divorce laws. She somehow found time to pen
sixteen books and have a demanding career as a public speaker.
Nellie McClung was elected to the Alberta Legislature from 1921-26. She went on to serve
on the Board of Governors for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and became a delegate
to the League of Nations in 1938.
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