Nellie McClung: Exercise 3 - Reading Comprehension
Answer the questions about the story.
The Story of Nellie McClung
1 In 1882, a nine-year-old girl from the Prairies was at a community picnic. The summer sun was high in the sky. People sat on tablecloths spread over the green grass. They ate sandwiches and watermelon. They drank tea and lemonade. And the boys were lining up for a race. The nine-year-old girl wanted to run in that race. But she was told that races were for boys only. It was not nice for girls to run. Their skirts might fly up and their legs might show. A fire was lit inside her that day. One day, she would see to it that women could do the same things that men could do – like vote. Her name was Nellie McClung.
2 Running in races wasn’t the only thing girls weren’t allowed to do. Back then, it was illegal for women to vote, be in government, own property, or go to university. This is because men were thought to be more reasonable than women. Only men were reasonable enough to take part in the world of government and business. Women were seen as emotional. This made them “more fit” for the world of homemaking and childcare.
3 When Nellie grew up, she poked holes in these old ideas. She spoke to large crowds in favour of women’s right to vote. Some Canadians worried that women’s rights would lead to the breakdown of the family. With a colourful hat on her head and a charming sense of humour, Nellie changed hearts and minds.
4 Women’s rights activists in Europe and America often used violence to get their point across. Nellie used humour, instead. She starred in a play where she debated men’s right to vote. She began by telling the men how nice they looked. Then she pointed out that most of the people in prison were men, and men made up only a small number of the people who went to church. How could these people be trusted with politics? Big crowds came to see Nellie’s play. They roared with laughter. It became fashionable to support women’s rights.
5 White women were finally allowed to vote in federal elections in 1918. As a result of racist laws, women of colour and Aboriginal women would not be allowed to vote until much later.
6 In 1921, Nellie served as one of the first female MLAs in the government of Alberta. It was often said that women’s involvement in politics would lead to divorce. Nellie and her husband Wes proved those claims wrong. Wes was proud of his wife. “I don’t mind being Mr. Nellie McClung,” he’d say with a smile.
7 One day, Nellie’s friend Emily Murphy invited some friends to her house for tea. They talked about how unfair it was that women were not allowed to sit in the Senate. This is because women were not seen as “persons” in the eyes of the law. The women decided to take the matter to court. After a long battle, they won the case in 1929 – but Nellie wasn’t finished. “The end is not yet!” she said. Even though women had won many legal rights, they were still not treated as equal to men. This was especially true of women of colour. Unlike most women’s rights activists of her time, Nellie called for an end to racism.
8 Even as she grew older and her health declined, she kept writing and speaking for equal rights. Nellie said, “Because I’ve got a bad heart, my doctor has told me not to write. I assume he meant books, so I keep busy on letters, editorials, and messages.” If she hadn’t died in 1951, she would probably still be fighting for women’s rights today.
Story by Shantel Ivits at BC Open Textbooks
Adapted under Creative Commons license
Adaptations and exercises by Richard Carrington, English Language Centre
Photo (edited): Nellie McClung by Jkelly is in the public domain
Audio version performed by Peter Polgar, English Language Centre
- Which statement about the article is not true?
- During Nellie's childhood, women were not permitted to attend university.
- When Nellie grew up, women could not become members of the government.
- Women were not allowed to own their own business when Nellie was a child.
- Girls were not allowed to run in races when Nellie was a child.
- Choose the best completion for this sentence. Nellie decided to devote her time and energy to women's rights after ____________
- starring in a very successful play.
- becoming an MLA in Alberta.
- not being allowed to run a race.
- hearing about women's rights activists in America and Europe.
- Which statement about the period when Nellie grew up is not true?
- People believed women were not reasonable enough to be in government.
- There were more men in prisons than women.
- Equal numbers of men and women usually attended church services.
- People believed that women were best suited for staying home and raising children.
- Which sentence contains information not found in the article?
- People worried that families would suffer if women formed part of the government.
- Nellie was married when she became a member of the Alberta government.
- The Alberta government was the first provincial government that accepted women members.
- Nellie's husband didn't mind being called Mr. Nellie McClung.
- Which sentence about the article is not true?
- Because of the success of Nellie's play, more and more Canadians began supporting women's rights.
- Nellie's play looked at women's rights in a serious way.
- Women's rights activists in Europe never used violence to make their views known.
- Nellie wore a black hat in her play.
- Choose the best completion for this sentence. Nellie was different from other women's rights activists in America because ____________
- she agreed that women should raise children rather than take part in the government.
- she used violence to get people to understand her way of thinking.
- she agreed that letting women take part in politics would result in more divorces.
- she used humour to make her views known.
- Which statement is not true?
- White women were allowed to vote in 1819.
- Aboriginal women and women of colour were given the right to vote after 1918.
- Nellie became an Alberta MLA in 1921.
- Nellie was born in 1872.
- Which sentence below contains information not found in the article?
- One of Nellie's friends was a woman named Emily Murphy.
- Nellie helped get women the right to sit in the Senate in 1954.
- Nellie was opposed to racism and wanted to see it stopped.
- The government called Nellie a Person of National Historic Significance in 1954.
- Which sentence below contains information not found in the article?
- Nellie was a nine-year-old girl living on the Prairies in 1882.
- Girls were not allowed to go to university when Nellie was growing up, and she only had six years of schooling.
- Nellie had a weak heart when she became older.
- Which statement from the article is an opinion?
- In 1921, Nellie served as one of the first female MLAs in the government of Alberta. (paragraph 6)
- Unlike most women's rights activists of her time, Nellie called for an end to racism. (paragraph 7)
- If she hadn't died in 1951, she would probably still be fighting for women's rights today. (paragraph 8)