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Clearing in the West is the first of McClung's two autobiographical works. In it, she examines her life from birth to age twenty-three, recounting the events and influences that shaped her political and personal future, including her first years in school--both as a student and later a teacher--her early passion for writing, and her burgeoning interest in social reform. It was this interest that led to McClung's first political involvement with the Women's Christian Temperance Movement, the organization that spearheaded the women's right to vote effort in Canada.