An Historic Event in an Historic Setting

You may recall the announcement earlier this year when we reported the unveiling of the plaque denoting Margaret “Madge” Watt as a Canadian Woman of Distinction. What follows is the account of the August 14th, Parks Canada ceremony designating Mrs. Margaret “Madge” Watt as a Person of National Historic Significance.

Mrs. Watt, born in Ontario and a former resident of Metchosin and Victoria, initiated the Women’s Institutes in Great Britain and went on to gather the rural women’s groups from around the world into the Associated Country Women of the World of which Mrs. Watt served as the first president, from 1933 to 1947. She passed away in Montreal in 1948 and is interred there.

Under the Canadian Federal Elections regulations, no publicity of events such as this may be distributed during an election campaign as it could give the impression of favouring one political party over the others. Hence the delay.

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Madge WattAn Historic Event in an Historic Setting
On August 14, 2015, the historic Colwood Community Hall rang with laughter and joy, as Parks Canada joined with the Women’s Institutes everywhere to celebrate the designation of Mrs. Margaret “Madge” Watt as a Person of National Historic Significance. Nearly 70 members and friends joined together to celebrate the life and achievements of this remarkable woman.

Special guests for the event included British Columbia Provincial President Janet Bangs and Vice President Colleen Hooper, Past World President Lyndsay (Hackett-Pain) Mundy, Sharon Hatten, current Chairman of the ACWW United Nations Committee and Joan Holthe, President Elect of the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada. Lyn Gough of the Victoria Chapter of the Women’s History Month group, as well as Maureen and Nina Duffus. The Duffus ladies represented the Watt family – Maureen’s cousin was married to Robin Watt, Madge Watt’s eldest son.
Special messages were received from the Associated Country Women of the World, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes of England and Wales, Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada and Dr. Helen Geissinger of New South Wales, Australia, great-niece of Mrs. Watt.

The hall was adorned for the occasion with table décor of greenery and small Canadian flags. The 100th anniversary Women’s Institute display, prepared by the Royal British Columbia Museum was enjoyed by many attendees, as well as a display of quilts, and of course, one on Mrs. Watt. A historic British Columbia Women’s Institute flag was graciously loaned to us for this occasion by the Sunshine Valley Women’s Institute. This flag was a hand-painted rendition of the BC Women’s Institute official emblem. Members from Kamloops went to the effort of bringing one of the Provincial banners for the occasion. Ladies in turn of the century costumes greeted guests at the door and added a touch of Mrs. Watt’s time in history to the occasion.

Chairman for the day was Dr. Hal Kalman, from Parks Canada, who introduced the panel and spoke about the appellation Mrs. Watt has been granted. This was followed by speeches by BCWI President Janet Bangs, BCWI Provincial Historian Ruth Fenner, and Dr. Helen Davies of Parks Canada, all of which celebrated Mrs. Watt’s life and achievements. Dr. Helen Davies cited a quote from Mrs. Watt as “service to humanity is the finest flower of civilization”. We believe this is true today of the efforts of Women’s Institute members everywhere.

Next, the plaque was unveiled, and the cameras all came to the fore. The message on the plaque is inscribed in both English and French, and the English text reads as follows:

MARGARET “MADGE” WATT

In 1909, Mrs. Watt helped found the first Women’s Institute in British Columbia, bringing rural women together to learn agricultural and domestic skills and to promote civic reform. After moving to Britain in 1913, she used the Canadian model to establish Women’s Institutes there, leading women during the First World War in a critical campaign to alleviate food shortages. Following the war, Watt became a driving force behind the foundation of a major international rural women’s organization, the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW), serving as its first president from 1933 until 1947.

Just when the plaque will reach its final public site is, at the time of this writing, unknown. But members everywhere can rest assured that those of us who have worked on this project since it was first suggested by the Women’s Institute, Lyn Gough and the Women’s History Month group will be watching and asking until this too, is achieved.

Our thanks to all who attended, and all those who have in whatever way, contributed to the success of bringing this about. Mrs. Watt may no longer be with us in body, but her spirit will live on through this and other sites where we and other Women’s Institute members have helped to establish public plaques and cairns to commemorate her life and worldwide accomplishments.

Another milestone achieved — may there be many more!

Ruth Fenner,
BC Women’s Institute Provincial Historian

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About WI
Women’s Institute is a local, provincial, national and international organization that promotes women, families and communities. Our goal is to empower women to make a difference.

About FWIC

The idea to form a national group was first considered in 1912. In 1914, however, when the war began the idea was abandoned. At the war’s end, Miss Mary MacIsaac, Superintendent of Alberta Women’s Institute, revived the idea. She realized the importance of organizing the rural women of Canada so they might speak as one voice for needed reforms, and the value of co-ordinating provincial groups for a more consistent organization. In February 1919, representatives of the provinces met in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to form the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada.

 

“Your seat is waiting!”

Carol MacLellan, Executive Officer from PEI
Carol MacLellan, Executive Officer from PEI

Carol MacLellan and the planning committee are pleased to inform you that the FWIC Convention plans are taking shape nicely. The Convention Planning Committee in New Brunswick met with FWIC President Marie Kenny, Jan 23 and 24th to touch base regarding the planning and production.

FWIC Convention planners meet at the Fredericton Convention Centre, Fredericton, NB. Angela Faubert, Chair of Hospitality; Carol MacLellan, Executive Officer from PEI; Angela Scott, NBWI President; Marie Kenny, FWIC President; Holly Hersey, Host Committee Co-Chair; and Terry Spragg, Sales Committee.
FWIC Convention planners meet at the Fredericton Convention Centre, Fredericton, NB. Angela Faubert, Chair of Hospitality; Carol MacLellan, Executive Officer from PEI; Angela Scott, NBWI President; Marie Kenny, FWIC President; Holly Hersey, Host Committee Co-Chair; and Terry Spragg, Sales Committee.

The 2015 FWIC triennial convention is in Fredericton NB, June 9-13. The convention will include educational workshops, inspirational speakers and plenary sessions focusing on FWIC’s Triennial Theme Women’s Institute, Planting Seeds of Change.

FWIC President Marie Kenny said;

Conventions are a great opportunity for the membership and guests to come together, to be informed, to learn and to share ideas. Planting seeds of change is a beginning, deepening the roots of change takes working together, motivating and inspiring each other on journey.

Please share with your membership, the media, and your social media, the attached Convention 2015 update, and photograph from FWIC Publicity Chair Carol MacLellan and President Marie Kenny.

link to Convention update: FWIC Prepares for Upcoming Convention

Click on the poster image for your Convention Registration package.

Seeds of change  poster

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Find us on Facebook or Twitter.

About WI
Women’s Institute is a local, provincial, national and international organization that promotes women, families and communities. Our goal is to empower women to make a difference.

About FWIC

The idea to form a national group was first considered in 1912. In 1914, however, when the war began the idea was abandoned. At the war’s end, Miss Mary MacIsaac, Superintendent of Alberta Women’s Institute, revived the idea. She realized the importance of organizing the rural women of Canada so they might speak as one voice for needed reforms, and the value of co-ordinating provincial groups for a more consistent organization. In February 1919, representatives of the provinces met in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to form the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada.

Membership Monday – An Invitation to Engage and Connect

Virtual Potluck

You are invited to a

Potluck Christmas Party!

Yes, You!

And all of our Facebook Friends

When: December 14th to 24th

(or longer, if demand dictates!)

Where: On Facebook

Post a picture of your Christmas baking, or celebration dinner. Perhaps you could write out a cherished seasonal recipe and share it with us. Or, if you have a link to a recipe that’s online, that’s great, too!

Post a simple message of season’s greetings. Or not so simple. Reminisce. Share photos of your Christmas tree or sparkling lights or that funky sweater that once was an eyesore but is now all the rage.

Send us a snap of snowbanks or winter landscapes. Maybe even send a picture or yourself all decked out for the holiday.

Whatever you like, we would be delighted to hear from you. This is a chance to engage and connect with the women across the country and across the world.

Please share!

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Follow FWIC on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.

About WI

Women’s Institute is a local, provincial, national and international organization that promotes women, families and communities. Our goal is to empower women to make a difference.

About FWIC

The idea to form a national group was first considered in 1912. In 1914, however, when the war began the idea was abandoned. At the war’s end, Miss Mary MacIsaac, Superintendent of Alberta Women’s Institute, revived the idea. She realized the importance of organizing the rural women of Canada so they might speak as one voice for needed reforms, and the value of co-ordinating provincial groups for a more consistent organization. In February 1919, representatives of the provinces met in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to form the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada.

FWIC at One Hundred: Past President Essay Writing Competition

PP Competition

[Edit: Please note that the PO BOX number in the image is incorrect. It should be PO Box 46.]

FWIC at One Hundred
PAST PRESIDENT’S COMPETITON 2015

During the past year the last two provinces turned 100, with the exception of Newfoundland/Labrador who celebrated 75 years. The celebrations are over and now we look forward to 2019 when FWIC reaches the century mark.

Our organization (Women’s Institute) has existed for more than 100 years because of you, the members, and we would like to hear from you.

As a Past President of such a great organization as FWIC, I would like to see us move forward to leave our country and indeed the world a much better place for our children and grandchildren, hence the competition and my challenge to you.

Where do you see FWIC at 100?
How has FWIC inspired you and what do you see as the challenges for the future?
What is your vision for FWIC moving into the second century?

The Competition: FWIC at One Hundred

Write an essay of minimum 1000/maximum 2000 words- Typed or handwritten double-spaced- Presented in a folder- Name, branch, province in sealed envelope inside back cover. Due: April 15, 2015

Mail to: Ruth Blenkhorn
Box 46
Port Williams, NS
B0P1T0

 

Find us on Facebook or Twitter.

About WI
Women’s Institute is a local, provincial, national and international organization that promotes women, families and communities. Our goal is to empower women to make a difference.

About FWIC

The idea to form a national group was first considered in 1912. In 1914, however, when the war began the idea was abandoned. At the war’s end, Miss Mary MacIsaac, Superintendent of Alberta Women’s Institute, revived the idea. She realized the importance of organizing the rural women of Canada so they might speak as one voice for needed reforms, and the value of co-ordinating provincial groups for a more consistent organization. In February 1919, representatives of the provinces met in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to form the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada.

#IAmWI – The Highlight Reel

If you were near a social media outlet on Wednesday October 1, you may have spotted some of the smiling faces in the gallery below. Jo Beal of the Cambridge WI in the UK launched the #IAmWI campaign in order to promote the current image of women’s institutes around the world. Take a look and I think you’ll agree, the face of WI is vibrant and bright.

An Afternoon Tea to Celebrate Kuntsford Women’s Institute 1864-2014

On Saturday September 6 2014, Kuntsford Women’s Institute hosted a 1864-2014 celebration which included pictorials displays, presentations, music, and an afternoon tea. Joan Smallman presented flowers to Empress McDowell on her 95th Birthday, Jacquie Leard recognized Silver Dennis for 75 years service in WI. Greetings were extended by Hon. Robert Henderson, Marie Kenny, FWIC President and. Jacquie Leard, PEIWI. Congratulations to Fairley Yeo, chair and Orlo Smallman, President Knutsfort WI for a wonderful celebration !

 

It was a wonderful celebration and certainly reflected the dedication and commitment of so many WI volunteers to community building.

Your displays, memorabilia, and pictorial displays celebrated your rich history.

I congratulate you!!

The past is your lesson
The present is your gift.
The future is your motivation.

Blessings always

Marie Kenny, FWIC President

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