On June 18, 2010 the Famous 5 monument sculpted by the talented local artist Helen Granger Young was unveiled at the Manitoba Legislative Building. It is difficult for us to believe that this was already 8 years ago!
If you have not yet had the opportunity to visit the monument, it is located on the West side of the grounds (closest to Osborne Street N). The monument’s scene depicts McClung, Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Irene Parlby, and Louise McKinney at a round table, with McClung putting her own name on the petition which supported the idea that it was time for women to finally be recognized as persons known as “The Persons Case” or “Edwards v Canada”. Surrounded by Murphy, Edwards, Parlby, and McKinney, McClung’s efforts are thus framed by these important women at the most symbolic moment of her political career. Also, Edwards’ hat on the ground could symbolize the “wind” and the changing of the times, values, and social perspective.
Why the Famous 5 and Why here?
In 2003 MLA representative for Charleswood Myrna Driedger, along with Opposition Leader Stuart Murray and MLA Frank Pitura drafted a private member’s bill for the Manitoba Legislature to create a foundation that would create a monument for Nellie McClung at the legislature, serving to educate the public about her achievements. The bill received unanimous approval and was passed on December 4, 2003. Several years later, the Nellie McClung Foundation was officially constituted on September 15, 2006.
Although it is not the first monument to depict the Famous 5 in Canada, it made sense for the statue depicting these women, especially McClung, to be here–where McClung spent 34 years of her life–from 1880-1914, and where the her ideas and ideals took shape. The sculptor was aptly chosen–as she too is a long time resident of Manitoba–since 1947. Helen Granger Young is lifelong and supremely talented artist–training at OCAD under such notable teachers as Franklin Carmichael of the Group of Seven. Works by Young have been presented to provincial and Canadian dignitaries, the Royal Family, foreign leaders and the Vatican. Young even has some of her works in the Kremlin, the White House, and Buckingham Palace.
“My creative imagination was so stirred by the pioneering spirit and accomplishments of Nellie McClung and indeed those of the Famous Five, and it was not only a challenge but a sincere privilege to create a monument to remind all Canadians of the debt that we owe them.” -Sculptor Helen Granger Young on her vision