On Happiness…..


Manitoba’s own Nellie McClung on happiness……..

“There was a woman who came with her family to the prairie country thirty-five years ago. They built a house, which in those days of sod roofs and Red-River frames seemed quite palatial, for had it not a “parlor” and a pantry and three bedrooms? The lady grieved and mourned incessantly because it had no back-stairs. In ten years they built another house, and it had everything, back-stairs, dumb-waiter, and laundry shoot, and all the neighbors wondered if the lady would be happy then. She wasn’t. She wanted to live in the city. She had the good house now and that part of her discontent was closed down, so it broke out in another place. She hated the country. By diligently keeping at it, she induced her husband to go to the city where the poor man was about as much at home as a sailor at a dry-farming congress. He made no complaint, however. The complaint department was always busy! She suddenly discovered that a Western city was not what she wanted. It was “down East.” So they went. They bought a beautiful home in the orchard country in Ontario, and her old neighbors watched development. Surely she had found peace at last  – but she hadn’t. She did not like the people  – she missed the friendliness of the new country; also she objected to the winters, and her dining-room was dark, and the linen closet was small. Soon after moving to Ontario she died, and we presume went to heaven. It does not matter where she went –  she won’t like it, anyway. She had the habit of discontent.

There’s no use looking ahead for happiness  – look around! If it is anywhere, it is here….”

Nellie McClung (1873-1951) In Times Like These published in 1915 by D. Appleton & Company. Canadian feminist, author and social activist. McClung, who lived in Manitoba from 1880-1914 (34 years) was one of the Famous Five who launched the ‘Persons Case’. She actively campaigned for the right for women to vote. Manitoba women were the first to win the right to vote in Canada.

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