Although her name today is synonymous with the women’s suffrage movement in Canada, Nellie McClung’s long and varied career covered several fields—from social activist to elected politician, from novelist to journalist. McClung was instrumental in Canadian women gaining the right to vote before their British and American counterparts—2016 marks the one-hundred-year anniversary of women’s suffrage in Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan—and in women being recognized as persons eligible to sit in the Senate. McClung was a household name by the time she was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in 1921, a post she held for five years.
When she settled on Vancouver Island in 1932, McClung was a highly esteemed public figure who had not only changed Canada’s political landscape and influenced women’s rights worldwide but had also raised five children and written a dozen best-selling books. From her beloved Island home, Lantern Lane, McClung continued to speak out against social injustice and inequality. In the late 1930s, she began to write a syndicated weekly newspaper column that served as social commentary for the years leading up to World War II. The Valiant Nellie McClung highlights a selection of those columns—covering themes as grave as war, as fundamental as the strength of the family unit, and as whimsical as the pleasure of gardening—and offers a unique reflection of our country’s history and an uncanny resonance today.