Louise Crummy was born on
September 22, 1868, in Frankville, Ontario, into a pioneer family. Her father,
Richard Crummy, left Ireland in 1842 to build a new life in
Upper Canada, and 15 years later, brought Esther Empay over
as his bride. Louise was born as the sixth child in a family
of 10, and was the second of three girls.
She graduated from high school, and then attended Ottawa
Normal School to obtain her teaching certification—though
her real ambition was to be a doctor. At that time, it was
almost impossible for a woman to go to medical school, so
Louise, like many young women with dreams of other, less
traditional, careers, settled for teaching. She taught in
Ontario for four years, beginning in 1886. She then moved
west to join a sister in North Dakota, where she taught for
an additional three years before becoming deeply involved in
the Temperance Movement.
In 1894, she became an organizer for the Woman's
Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). While working for the
cause of temperance, she met and married James McKinney—a
kindred spirit, whose parents were also Irish Ontarians.
They married in Ontario, and had one son, Willard, in honour
of Frances E. Willard—founder and leader of the WCTU and one
of the 19th century's best-known women.
The McKinneys moved to Claresholm, Alberta in 1903, and
were active in organizing the first church in the town. Both
Louise and James McKinney were raised as Methodists, and
their faith played a central role in their lives—both
private and public. When they took up residence in
Claresholm, they organized church services, and two years
after their arrival, helped to build the Methodist church.
James taught a Bible class for Sunday School, and Louise
filled the role of Primary Superintendent.
On the rare occasions that McKinney had time to enjoy a
holiday, she was fond of travelling and sightseeing.
Fortunately, she was able to combine this pleasure with her
WCTU work, while attending the World's Conventions. She and
her husband had the opportunity to visit Boston (1907),
Brooklyn (1913), and London (1920). She also visited
Lausanne (1928), as well as touring Italy and Switzerland.
On her way home, she stopped to visit the White Mountains of