Born in Chatsworth ON, McClung is known as a tireless worker for women's rights, and as an author and a legislator. She grew up on a farm in Manitoba and became a school teacher at the age of only 16. In 1908, she published her first novel, Sowing Seeds in Danny.
Moving with her husband and four children to Winnipeg MB in 1911, McClung grew prominent as a national speaker on women's rights and social reform, generally. She became active politically in Winnipeg, and helped to defeat the provincial government when it refused to extend the vote to women.
She moved to Edmonton AB in 1915. There, she continued her fight for women's right to vote in elections, and for prohibition (the outlawing of the sale of alcohol). She was a driving force behind women's winning the right to vote, and official legal status as persons under Canadian law. (The Persons' Case of 1929 brought this second issue to world attention.)
McClung moved to Vancouver Island BC in 1935 and continued her career as a writer. There she completed the first volume of her autobiography, Clearing the West: My Own Story (1935). She continued her public life as a lecturer, as a director of the Canadian Authors Association, and as a member of the first governing board of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which was established in 1936.