The Biography of Louise McKinney

The Biography of Louise McKinney

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A temperance advocate, Louise McKinney was one of the first two women elected to the Alberta Legislative Assembly and one of the first two women elected to a legislature in Canada and in the British Empire. An excellent debater, she worked on legislation to help people with disabilities, immigrants, and widows and separated wives. Louise McKinney was also one of the "Famous Five," along with Nellie McClung, Alberta women who fought and won the political and legal battle in the Persons Case to have women recognized as persons under the BNA Act.


September 22, 1868, in Frankville, Ontario


July 10, 1931, in Claresholm, Northwest Territories (now Alberta)


Teachers College in Ottawa, Ontario


Teacher, temperance and women's rights activist and Alberta MLA

Causes of Louise McKinney

  • temperance education
  • stronger liquor control
  • women's property rights and the Dower Act

Political Affiliation

Non-Partisan League

Riding (Electoral District)


Career of Louise McKinney

  • Louise McKinney was a teacher in Ontario and then in North Dakota.
  • She moved to a homestead near Claresholm, Northwest Territories in 1903.
  • Louise McKinney became involved in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) while in North Dakota and organized a chapter in Claresholm. She continued as an organizer for the WCTU for more than 20 years, eventually becoming acting president of the national organization.
  • Louise McKinney was elected to the Alberta Legislative Assembly in 1917, in the first election in which Canadian women could run for office or vote. Suspicious of the political donations made by large brewing and liquor companies to the major parties, Louise McKinney ran under the banner of the Non-Partisan League, an agrarian movement.
  • With the help of Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney introduced the bill that became the Dower Act, which guaranteed a woman a third of the family estate when her husband died.
  • Louise McKinney was defeated in the 1921 Alberta election and did not run again.
  • Louise McKinney was one of four women to sign the Basis of Union forming the United Church of Canada in 1925.
  • Louise McKinney was one of the "Famous Five" Alberta women in the Persons Case which established the status of women as persons under the BNA Act in 1929.

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