A Tribute to Womanhood
Welcome to "I Am Woman"...a tribute to all those women who had the courage and perseverance to stand up and fight for their rights. Thanks to those who came before us we enjoy a freedom unknown to women not too long ago. But, sadly, in many parts of the world, women continue to be repressed. In fact, even in this country there are women living today under the threat of violence...completely controlled by a violent spouse. Some may make it; others won't. Hopefully, one day ALL women will be free. May that day come soon.
Nellie Letitia Moody was born in 1873 in Chattsworth, Ontario. When she was 7, her family moved to Manitoba. Nellie was still a young girl when she began to notice that men and women were treated differently, and she began to question traditional women's roles. For example, Nellie wondered why it was that girls were not allowed to participate in football or to compete in track, and she was never really satisfied with the response...'skirts would fly upward and legs would show.' All she knew was that she wanted to play, and play she did.
When Nellie first began teaching school, she was 16 years old...and during recess, Nellie, in her long skirt and starched blouse, could be found playing football with the other students. Parents were outraged. Then, as a young woman, Nellie became involved with the Women's Christian Temperance Union, an organization which was particularly concerned with the social and health problems cause by alcohol use. The group also fought many other social problems that faced women and children and spearheaded the campaign to give women the right to vote.
Then, in 1896, Nellie married Robert Wesley McClung, and during the first 16 years of their marriage, she bore five children and published her first novel, "Sowing Seeds in Danny", and became an instant success. Meanwhile, her personal commitment to women's rights became her political cause as well, and she began to speak out for women's suffrage.
In 1911, the family moved to Winnipeg, and there Nellie joined "The Canadian Women's Press Club." She became active in speaker's bureau and traveled across Canada, the United States, and even spoke in Great Britain in support of social changes such as prohibition, property rights for wives and widows, access to education and better laws to regulate safety and working conditions.
The family moved again in 1914; this time then moved to Edmonton where Nellie again led the fight for female suffrage, achieving success in 1916 when women's suffrage became law and women in Manitoba were the first in Canada to achieve the right to vote. When the war broke out, she threw herself into the war effort and was an enthusiastic supporter of the Red Cross and in 1921 was elected to the Alberta Legislature where she fought for mother's allowances, public health nursing, and free medical and dental care for children amongst other things. She was then defeated because of her temperance stance when she ran again in 1926.
Through the 1930's, her writing career flourished and she published several newspaper articles, short stories, wrote another novel, and a book of her memoirs. She was, throughout her life, an active Methodist, and she fought for women's right to be ministers in the United Church of Canada. In 1933, they moved to Victoria. She was the first women appointed to CBC Board of Governor (1936-1942) and in 1938, Nellie became a delegate to the League of Nations. She was also an advocate of divorce reform.
Nellie died at her home near Victoria, British Columbia on September 1, 1951; she was 77 years old. The efforts of Nellie and those who shared her goals and enthusiasm effected significant change in women's lives, and she has continued to live in the spirit of Canadian women's ongoing struggle to achieve equality. Her Winnepeg home at 97 Chestnut Street was designated in the Memorable Manitobans: The Homes Program.