Friday was a momentous day in Manitou with the unveiling of Nellie’s Homes and the Nellie McClung Heritage site.
Residents from Manitou, staff, and students from Manitou Elementary and Nellie McClung Collegiate, Wallcraft family and Archibald Museum board members, Nellie’s paternal Mooney family, and Hasslefield family where Nellie boarded gathered to pay honour to Nellie McClung’s legacy.
Al Thorleifson, member of the Moving Nellie Home Committee, spoke of the importance of the involvement of students in the moment.
Not only was the land where the Nellie McClung Home and Hazel Cottage are located donated by the school division, the students are the ones who will carry on the legacy and the torch of Nellie. The homes and site are located at the corner of Highway 3 and Main Street.
Guest speakers and supporters of the McClung project were her Honour Janice Filmon, Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, Premier Brian Pallister, Minister Rochelle Squires, Minister Blaine Pedersen, Ruth Asper, of the Asper Foundation, and Robert McLean and Bette Mueller, Co Chairs of the Moving Nellie Home Committee.
"For us who have been inspired by Nellie McClung for much of our lives, being here right beside her old home in the community in which she lived for two decades, feels like visiting an old friend or mentor," shared her Honour Janice Filmon.
Her Honour continued by saying the exhibit opened during the 150thanniversary of Confederation wasn't just a gift to Manitoba, but a gift to all of Canada.
Moments during the ceremony included Ministers unveiling the Bill Wallcraft Plaque with Wilma Wallcraft, her Honour planting a Regal Celebration Maple with the Co-Chairs, the Premier and Lieutenant Governor officially opening the Nellie McClung Heritage Site, and music by Stu Clayton.
Both McClung House and Hazel Cottage, as they are called today, were
originally located in and around Manitou prior to being sold and moved away mid last century.
In the 1970s, they were saved by local curator, William (Bill) Wallcraft and located to his Archibald Historical Museum near LaRiviere. After the museum closed three years ago, both homes were gifted to Manitou.
The Moving Nellie Home committee was founded January 2016, with the goal of relocating the structures back to Manitou and restoring both. .
With a goal of $200,000, the project was kicked off by a donation of $30,000 from the Asper Foundation.
Ruth Asper says their family wanted to help the project, because they believe in the legacy of Nellie McClung.
"The rights of women, and the struggle we faced and still do, is something worth memorializing through the story of Nellie McClung. The telling of the story of Nellie McClung, and the women's movement, is the telling of where we've come from as a society, and where we still need to go."
Access Credit Union also donated $15,000 to the Heritage Site Friday.
Nellie McClung first moved to the Hazel District, 3 miles from Manitou, in 1890, as a 16 year old teacher. In Manitou, she met and married Wes McClung, gave birth to four of their five children, wrote her Canadian best seller and began her traveling career as a renowned speaker. She spent 20 of her 24 adult years in Manitoba living in the Manitou area.
The Nellie's Homes and Heritage Site’s committee members plan on creating a tourism educational program in partnership with the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden.