Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 2010 meeting - Part IIb - Alice McQuay Clement

The second eminent Meaford woman in the presentation by Marjorie Davison and Jean Crummett was Mrs. Alice McQuay Clement, Meaford’s first woman mayor (1957-1961), the first woman mayor in Grey County, and the first woman to have served on Meaford’s Council, which position she held for 15 years.

Born in January of 1880 in Proton Township, she was the daughter of Thomas McQuay and Margaret McKillopHer father farmed and built and operated a saw mill for 25 years. She was of Scottish-Irish descent; her great-grandfather was an Edinburgh Scotland McKay, but through the years the Irish influences changed the spelling of their name to McQuay.

Her parents retired to Meaford where Alice attended high school and model school (which was a school for early teachers), before going off to teach in Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. She  upgraded her teaching skills by attending Normal School in Winnipeg.

In 1914, she married Walter Henry Clement and as a bride she went with her husband to the summit of Yellow Head Pass, being the second white woman to follow the route of Agnes Laut, a writer, who had gone through the pass with native guides. The Clements lived in Kamloops and New Westminster, B.C. In 1917 tragedy struck when she got word that her husband had drowned in the Stikine River while an employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company. 

She returned home to Meaford with her two sons, Gordon Kelso Clement, 18 months and Walter Harry Clement, five weeks old. She returned to teaching. Within a few years, she changed course and became involved in the apiary business.

Clement served as chairperson for the Meaford Hospital Board for years and was also a member of the Hospital Management Committee. She was also active in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and her Presbyterian church organizations.

In later years, she devoted much time to Municipal work. She sat on the Meaford Council for 15 years (1942-1957). In 1957, she was acclaimed Mayor of Meaford. She remained in this position until her health began to fail in 1961. A year later, she died.

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