Today we celebrated Founders Day, and the 120th anniversary of the WI Movement!
On February 12th, 1897, Adelaide Hunter Hoodless was invited by Erland and Janet Lee to speak at the “Lady’s Night” of a Farmers Institutes meeting in Stoney Creek, Ontario. Adelaide challenged the women to form their own group, where they could meet regularly not just to socialize, but also to learn from and empower each other to improve their communities.
After hearing Adelaide’s words, Erland and Janet Lee were so inspired that they went home and drafted the first constitution of the Women’s Institutes on their dining room table. One week later, Adelaide was invited to return to Stoney Creek where she found 101 women in attendance of the inaugural meeting of the Women’s Institutes, with Adelaide as the honorary president.
This was on February 19, 1897; 120 years ago today. Stoney Creek was the first branch of the Women’s Institutes, but the movement soon grew. Since then, the movement has spread nationally and internationally. Today in Canada, there are 672 branches distributed throughout 10 provinces, with approximately 8,000 members.
Over the last 120 years, the WI movement has inspired & empowered women to make a difference. Members have worked hard to strengthen their communities through volunteerism, fundraising, and the lobbying of all levels of government. Many members boast lifelong friendships across our country, and indeed all over the world.
Women’s Institutes bring people together. What started as a group of 101 women meeting in Stoney Creek, has become a international movement of incredible and passionate women (and men) who make a difference in our world. We are honoured to celebrate what began 120 years ago, and continues to this day.