August 25, 2018

Wedding Anniversary of Nellie + Wes McClung

MCCLUNG WEDDING ANNIVERSARY:
MARRIED ON AUGUST 25, 1896

On August 25, 1896 Nellie and Wes McClung were married. Although the reception actually occurred the day before, the ceremony took place at 7:45am in Wawanesa, Manitoba.

It occurred this early in the morning so guests and the newlyweds could make it onto the train to Winnipeg, as the newlyweds were to leave on their honeymoon.

In order to celebrate this occasion—122 years later, we wanted to share with you a series of photos and some history!

 

Here are the happy newlyweds, Wes and Nellie the day before their wedding at their reception in Wawanesa.  Note that Nellie wore a different dress and carried the flowers for this occasion and for the pictures.

 

Photo: Western Development Museum Collection, WDM-1973-S-2021.

Photo: Western Development Museum Collection, WDM-1973-S-2021.

Above is is Nellie’s wedding dress! Isn’t it lovely and unique?  It was common fashion style during this era to make 2 pieces—the “under’ dress part with a fancy and easily detachable bodice placed overtop. Additionally, for practical reasons, the undress could be reused and worn on other occasions throughout the year. However, the bodice, which was decorative, had the bead and bow work which helped to transform it into a stunning wedding gown. The lovely high collar was quite possibly a necessity for marriage in the church as well.

 

 

As the plaque reads in the above 2 images, the McClungs were married quite early in the morning at the site shown. The inscription reads:

“A passionate advocate for women’s rights, and known for her wit, wisdom, and oratorical skills, Nellie McClung is recognized as a 20th century Canadian hero.

Nellie Letitia Mooney journey with her family Ontario to Winnipeg at age 7, then travelled by oxcart to their homestead in the Northfields District near Wawanesa, where she was raised.

While teaching in Manitou, she met her future husband, Robert Wesley McClung. They were married in our Presbyterian Church on August 25, 1896 at 7:45am, in time to catch the train for their honeymoon.

Nellie was the author of many books, describing the pioneering adventures of those early years. “

Of course, being the prolific writer that she was, Nellie wrote about her wedding day. From Clearing in the West: 

“The day before had been the perfect harvest day; with a heavy amber sunshine, lighting up the golden fields.  There was not a breath of wind, or a cloud in the sky, and the whole countryside was steeped in the golden glory.

“The next morning we were all astir early, for this was the day of days.  But what a change had come in the night.  The dark and stormy sky – the raging wind that tore the leaves from the maples trees, and rattled every window in the house, were poor omens for a wedding day!

“We reached the church at 7:30 – the Presbyterian Church on the river bank (which had been kindly offered to us, because it was larger than the little Methodist Church), decorated now with sheaves of wheat and beautiful flowers, and filled with the old friends from far and near.  

“Fear of the future did not cross either of our minds.  We were sitting on the top of the world.  Not that we had any money to give us assurance.  We had the four little rooms above the store to go to and the rent was paid for one month in advance.”

As they were standing out on the back platform of the train, Nellie wrote, “I cannot remember what we talked about, but I know we were hilariously, unreasonable happy, and confident, rich in the things we did not know.

Suddenly, the landscape began to brighten.  We looked up and saw the clouds were parting, and a bit of blue sky was showing over the shoulder of a black cloud.  

It was clearing in the West!  Tomorrow would be fine!”

 

 

 

***Endless thanks must go out to Barbara Biggar of Nellie’s Homes for her detailed history and the sharing of images. ***

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