A mother, author, women’s rights activist, and role model to female Canadians of all generations. From raising her 5 children to writing many successful novels to being a member of the Famous Five, Nellie Mcclung had a fulfilling and influential life. Formerly known as Nellie Letitia Mooney, she married Robert Wesley Mcclung to take on her now historic name, Nellie Letitia Mcclung.
Together Nellie and her husband had four sons: Mark Paul, Jack, and Florance and one daughter: Horace. Sowing Seeds in Danny, Nellie Mcclung’s first novel, was a best-seller in Canada. American and Canadian magazines later published Nellie’s short stories and articles . In her lifetime, Nellie published a total of sixteen books.
Nellie also played a role in the women’s suffrage movement as she and the Political Equality League, which she was a founding member of, put on a play displaying the dangers associated with men voting in elections which had an impact on the government. The first province to allow women to vote was Manitoba, in 1916. This was a change that Nellie Mcclung was a part of. The Famous Five were a group of five feminists, one of whom was Nellie Mcclung, who challenged the Canadian Supreme Court about whether the word ‘person’ under Section 24 of the BNA Act included women as well as men.
The Supreme Court claimed it was only men who fell under the definition of persons and therefore only men were eligible to run for Senate. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council overturned the ruling of the Supreme Court when the Famous Five appealed. So, on October 18th, 1929, women were considered, by law, persons. This historical event was extremely significant for Canadian women and Nellie Mcclung was one of the five women who helped Canada to make this positive change. The Canadian government named Nellie Letitia Mcclung a ‘Person of National Historic Significance’ in 1954.
Nellie Mcclung was a role model to many women of her generation and continues to empower women of today in their efforts to achieve global gender equality.