“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared November 16, 1997.
Nellie McClung House
• 803 - 15 Avenue S.W.
• Built: 1907 - 1908
• Contractor: Charles L. Coffin of Calgary.
• Original cost: $7,000
• Original owner: Harry Woodburne Blaylock, a Calgary barrister.
• Construction materials: Wood frame. Shingle and stucco cladding.
• Architectural style: Tudor revival. Two and one half storeys characterized by its gable roof, half timbering detailing and decorative chimneys
• Original interior details: Arts and Crafts style fireplaces, wood panelling, oak floors and trim, simulated ceiling beams. A central staircase with newel posts and Art Nouveau lamps.
• Building permit was issued August 5, 1907 to H.W.Blaylock
• House built on almost half an acre of land. In later years the property became known for its elaborate gardens.
• In 1908 two interior photographs of the Blaylock drawing room were featured in a Calgary Herald publication entitled Prosperous Calgary. The drawing room, with French doors, was furnished with wicker side chairs, mission style oak arm chairs, oak tea and side tables, painted screens, arts and crafts table lamps and ferns.
• Between 1908 and 1922 the home changed hands a number of times. By 1909 Blaylock sold the house to Frances Smith, physician. Subsequent owners included Clifford Reilly - barrister, Thomas Costello - physician and Arthur McParland - tobacconist.
• In 1923, two years after Nellie McClung's election to the Alberta Legislature, Nellie and her husband, Wesley (a druggist) bought the 15th Avenue house. The McClung's and two of their five children lived there until 1932. Nellie, who grew up in Manitoba, became well known as a women's rights activist, social reformer, politician and author. She was one of the five women (the Famous Five) led by Emily Murphy who petitioned for an interpretation of the word "person" as used in the British North America Act with specific reference to power to appoint a woman to the Senate. When the Supreme Court ruled against them, the women appealed to the privy council who ruled in 1929 that women were persons. Nellie was the only woman appointed to represent Canada at the League of Nations and the first woman appointed to the CBC's Board of Governors in 1936. She served in the Alberta Legislature until her defeat in 1926 when she lost her seat running as a Liberal in Calgary. Between 1923 and 1926 she lived in Edmonton during the week and returned home to Calgary on the weekends. Her book The Stream Runs Fast documents this period of her life. On the day after her 1926 defeat Nellie took comfort in her home and the joys of cooking. She wrote, "No woman can be utterly cast down who has a nice bright kitchen facing the west, with a good gas range and a blue and white checkered linoleum on the floor... I set off at once on a perfect debauch of cooking... I'm ashamed to tell it but I got more comfort that day out of my cooking spree than I did from either my philosophy or my religion..." While residing in her Calgary home she continued her fight for women's rights. Many of her most important works were written at a desk in her second floor bedroom.
• Nellie was fond of her Calgary home. She referred to the glass conservatory on the south side as the "Ivy Room" because of the many trailing plants she cultivated.
• In 1932 the McClung's moved to Victoria and in 1934 sold their Calgary home to Dr. George McGuffin, a pioneer in the field of radiology. It was reported that the McClung's sold many of their possessions to the Doctor, including a large sleigh bed.
• 1952 - house bought for $21,000 by Bessie and Percy Smith. Bessie was the daughter of Carbon pioneer, Adele Cunnington and first wife of Calgary oilman, Percy Smith.
• During the 1950s the Smith's made some modifications to the original structure. The front porch was enclosed to build a mother - in - law suite which changed the entrance to 15th Avenue. The northwest corner was extended to allow for a modern kitchen. In 1957, the upper bedrooms and the basement were suited and subsequently rented out.
• Mrs. Smith lived in and maintained the "McClung" house until her death in 1996. As an ardent supporter of Nellie McClung, Bessie recognized the historic significance of the house and successfully lobbied for designation.
• 1978 - designated a Provincial Historic Resource.
• 1989 - structural improvements and re - shingling of the roof with cedar shakes.
• January 31, 1990 a fire caused $40,000 damage to the mechanical system and flooring. This was subsequently repaired.
• 1997 sold to McDowell and Associates who plan to restore the house and the gardens.
“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared October 14, 2003.
Then: Nellie McClung House
• This lovely Tudor Revival house was built in 1908 for barrister Harry Woodburne Blaylock at a cost of $7,000. The original interior included Arts and Crafts fireplaces, wood panelling, oak floors and a central staircase featuring a newel post with an art nouveau lamp. The McClungs bought the home in 1923, two years after Nellie McClung's election to the Alberta legislature. McClung became a well- known women's rights activist, social reformer, politician and author. She was one of the five women (the Famous 5), led by Emily Murphy, who successfully petitioned for an interpretation of the word "person" as used in the British North America Act with specific reference to the power to appoint a woman to the Senate. Two years after the McClungs moved to Victoria in 1932, they sold their Calgary home to Dr. George McGuffin, a pioneer in the field of radiology. During Bessie and Percy Smith's ownership (1952-1996), the house was renovated to accommodate rental suites.
Now: Nellie McClung House Offices
• Recognizing the historical significance of the residence, longtime owner Bessie Smith successfully lobbied for the designation of the Nellie McClung House as a provincial historic resource in 1978. Smith lived in and maintained the house until her death in 1996. The current residents, McDowell and Associates, bought the house in 1997 and renovated it for office use.