The Nellie McClung Foundation was created in order to acknowledge and raise awareness of the contributions of Nellie McClung and her famous friends. These were important Canadians who assisted in advancing the cause of women in this province and country, and who created opportunities for all citizens for generations to come.
Before the unveiling of the Winnipeg monument, there had never been a monument recognizing Nellie McClung in the province where she lived and worked for more than 30 years.
The idea began in 2002 with MLA Myrna Driedger, then critic for the Status of Women. She identified Nellie as a significant but unrecognized contributor to the life of women
in Manitoba. In speaking with grassroots women's organizations and individuals, it became clear that it was time to find some way to honour Nellie's contributions.
Through a Private Member's Bill, the Manitoba Legislature created a foundation that would erect a monument for Nellie McClung at the Legislature, serving to educate the public about her achievements. Together with founding Chair The Honourable Janice C. Filmon. O.C., O.M., MLA Driedger assembled an exemplary team of men and women who commissioned the artist and the foundry; reviewed and selected monument concepts; raised funds; managed promotions; and developed the site. The monument was finally unveiled in 2010.
The Nellie McClung Foundation monument featuring Nellie McClung and the ‘Famous 5’ sits on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature, and was sculputed by Winnipeg artist Helen Granger Young.
Nellie McClung lived in Manitoba from 1880 – 1914 (34 years), and this was where the seeds of her ideas and the foundation of her ideals took shape. To achieve our goals, we believe that our monument and our educational efforts must emphasize not only the Manitoba sphere of her life, but also her national significance and influence. It must act as a springboard for further dialogue about the rights, achievements, and status of women.
The scene we have chosen with Nellie among the ‘Famous Five’ accomplishes all of this: it depicts her at the very pinnacle—the most symbolic moment— of her political career, alongside a handful of women whose shared ideas and beliefs she had passionately championed around the world. In this scene, Nellie McClung is putting her own name to the petition that supported the idea that the time had come for women to be recognized as persons. She was a pivotal figure in these efforts; framed by these important women, she is the pivotal figure in this scene.
The ‘Famous Five’:
1. Nellie McClung 2. Louise McKinney 3. Irene Parlby
4. Emily Murphy 5. Henrietta Muir Edwards
Don and Shirley Begg own and operate the award-winning Studio West Ltd. Foundry and Gallery in Cochrane, AB. They provide complete sculpture services from miniature to monumental. Together with their highly trained foundry technicians, the Beggs have cast and finished more than 180 public statues now found in museums, libraries, airports, schools, parks, hospitals, and war memorials. Their work can be found from British Columbia to New Brunswick, and from North West Territories to Florida. They also have installations in both France and Germany.
Helen Granger Young
The unique Nellie McClung Foundation monument was designed and sculpted by renowned Winnipeg artist, Helen Granger Young.
Young studied art at the Ontario College of Art under such notables as Dr. Charles Fraser Comfort and Franklin Carmichael, a member of the Group of Seven. In addition to portrait painting, Young worked as a commercial artist for Eaton's and the Hudson's Bay, as an art instructor, as a sculptor in
porcelain, and later in bronze.
Over the years, Young has created pieces that have been presented to Canadian dignitaries, the Royal Family, foreign leaders, and the Vatican. Some of her works are in the Kremlin, Buckingham Palace, and the White House. A number of her bronze busts grace the Winnipeg Real Estate Board's Walk of Fame.