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Themes - Activism

Louise Crummy McKinney

Photograph of Louise Crummy McKinney

First woman sworn in to the Alberta Legislative Assembly

One of the two first women elected to the Alberta Legislative Assembly.
One of the two first women elected to a legislature in Canada and in the British Empire.


Born in Frankville, Ontario on September 22, 1868.

Died in Claresholm, Alberta on July 10, 1931.

Louise McKinney attended normal school in Ottawa and taught for seven years in Ontario and then in North Dakota prior to moving with her husband, in 1903, to a homestead near Claresholm, Northwest Territories (later Alberta).

While in North Dakota, she became involved in the Women's Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.). In Claresholm, she founded a local chapter and subsequently served for over 20 years in a prominent role as an officer at the local, provincial, and national levels. Her participation culminated in 1931 when she became acting president of the national organization and vice-president of the world organization. She particularly championed the cause of temperance education in schools and throughout her service, she travelled to conventions held in America and in Europe.

As a leader, activist and organizer, she contributed to social reform and education through her long involvement in the W.C.T.U., the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (I.O.D.E.) and the Methodist church. As a supporter of church union, she was the only woman to sign the Basis of Union of the United Church of Canada in 1925.

In the Alberta General Election of 1917, she was nominated as a Non-Partisan League (an agrarian movement) candidate, running and winning on a prohibition ticket. With Roberta MacAdams (also elected in Alberta in 1917), she shares the distinction of being the first female elected to a legislature in the British Empire, but she was sworn in first and so took her legislative seat first. After being defeated in 1921, she did not run again.

By all accounts an excellent legislator and public speaker, in public service she fought for laws to aid immigrants, widows, separated women and other parts of society she also fought for stricter liquor control laws. She was chosen as the second person to sign the petition for the judicial appeal (known as the "Persons Case"), after Emily Murphy, which ultimately gave women the right to sit in the Canadian Senate.

Amongst other remembrances, the name of this Alberta pioneer settler, suffragette, prohibitionist and legislator has been honoured with an Alberta Post-secondary Scholarship as well as on a plaque (located at the entrance to the Canadian Senate) which is dedicated to the "Famous Five" Alberta women connected with the "Persons Case".


Cochrane, Jean. — "Reformers in the House". — Women in Canadian Politics. — Toronto : Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1977. — ISBN 0889023751 — P. 37-38.

Innis, Mary Quayle. — The Clear spirit : twenty Canadian women and their times. — Edited by Mary Quayle Innis. — Toronto : Published for the Canadian Federation of Univesity Women by the University of Toronto Press, 1973. — ISBN 0802014186 — P. 170-171.

MacEwan, Grant. — "Louise Crummy McKinney : Death on Booze". — Mighty women : stories of Western Canadian Pioneers. — Vancouver/Toronto : Greystone, 1995. — ISBN 1550544160 — P. 138-145.

MacKay, Louis Alexander — "Crummy, Louise (1868-1931) Mrs. James McKinney". — A Standard dictionary of Canadian biography Canadian who was who. — Toronto : Trans-Canada Press, 1938. — Vol. II, P. 83-85.

Palamarek, Michael. — "Louise Crummy McKinney". — A History of women and politics in Alberta 1900-1988 : a report for Senator Martha P. Bielish. — Canada? : s.n., 1989. — P. 41-44.

Sheehan, Nancy M. — "Achieving personhood : Louise McKinney and the WCTU in Alberta, 1905-1930". — Women as Persons Special Publication No. 8, Resources for Feminist Research. — Fall 1980. — P. 105-108.

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