FWIC Blog

Celebrating 120 Years of WI

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.

 

FWIC President Linda Hoy and FWIO President Margaret Byl celebrating WI Founders Day through "Tea at the Lee" on February 19, 2017
FWIC President Linda Hoy and FWIO President Margaret Byl celebrating WI Founders Day through “Tea at the Lee” on February 19, 2017

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.

From the President’s Pen – February 2017

It has been said that November and January are the longest, darkest and loneliest months of the year for many who face mental health issues. The commercials for Bell Let’s Talk on the TV bring a ray of hope to those who are suffering. Reach out to family and friends every single day – they may need an encouraging word and your voice could be the ray of sunshine for the day.

President Linda Hoy holding a sign that reads "#We are WI"We have just had our Executive Officers participating in the second Skype call on Saturday, January 21st for 4 1/2 hours. They have come out of their comfort zone to hook up to modern technology and I think you are awesome!

Discussion included finances, moving forward with the Board Restructuring Ad Hoc Committee, IPG Scholarship, FWIC 100th Anniversary, WI Logo, rebranding and launches. As you can see, we have lots of exciting things being worked on. Our next Skype call will be March 4th.

President Linda Hoy holding a sign that reads "February WI Month"I declare February as WI Month. How will your branch celebrate February 19th, Founder’s Day or Adelaide’s Birthday on February 27th? Send us your photos and we will display them on our website and Facebook pages. Tie blue & gold ribbons to your mailbox or vehicle antenna for the month of February.

Linda Hoy
FWIC President

#IAmWI #Addie160

ACWW update on Pickles and Fish

A year ago, we posted an announcement on how WI members could support two ACWW projects. Today I have good news, and soon to be good news.

Sheila Needham, Canada’s ACWW representative just issued her Fall 2015 ACWW newsletter which includes an update from the ACWW office in London, England:

Dear Sheila
I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your pretty card, showing autumnal colours, (Card was one of Linda Hoy’s) enclosing a cheque for £2,950.00, being donations from Canadian societies, following your very helpful spreadsheet. This is a very generous amount, and we confirm that these amounts have been allocated strictly in accordance with your instructions, with the following exception:-

Project No. 0960 ‘Pickles’
With these donations, you have exceeded your pledge to this project. We have therefore allocated the amount of Can $ 150.83 out of the 466.20 to project 0960, and we have allocated the ‘surplus’ for this project to project no. 0961.

I am delighted to attach a Certificate of Appreciation to this email, to mark the fact that you have fulfilled your pledge to project 0960.

Project No. 0961 ‘Fish’
As mentioned above, the ‘surplus’ of donations to project 0960 has been allocated to project 0961. This means that your donations to this project now total £1,662.11 out of your pledge of £2,786.00, leaving the amount of £1,123.89 still to be raised. [$2,269.19 CAD]

We are very grateful for the support of Canada Area for our projects and work. We understand that you have already thanked the various members and societies – thank you for thanking them!

With best wishes from a rather autumnal-feeling London
Juliet Childs, Projects Administrator

Please consider this post a reminder to include ACWW fundraising during your up-coming program year. Then I hope to post the good news that we have met (or exceeded!) the target!

For a .pdf copy of the project details or how to submit your donations, please click here.

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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.

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.

 

F.W.I.C. Quilt “A Story in Patchwork”

Wanted

A piece of your fabric

Not just any piece.

Looking for one of your favourites that tells a story.

100% cotton

Any shape piece of new fabric will do.

Up to 3 entries per person

Deadline for submission of fabric August 30, 2016

Attach your name and story of the piece and send to:

Donna Henderson

725 Napier St W.

Listowel Ontario

N4W 3M2

Questions? email donnahenderson80@gmail.com

You may recall Donna’s quilt that she created and donated as a fundraiser for FWIC just this past summer. That one was special. This one will be too!

patchwork quilt

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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.

Addie’s Apples II

About a year ago, I shared a couple of Adelaide Hunter Hoodless’ apple recipes with you. Click on this link if you’d like to re-read that post.

This year, I want to share with you (read: brag about) my recent triumph in the pie-making department. One of the members of the Women Inspiring Women WI is a prize-winning pastry maker. Elaine Tully will hold a couple of workshops later this fall for our WI, but first she wanted to have a technical rehearsal at the church kitchen. There I made my first ever peach pie. OH. EM. GEE. as they say. It was wonderful good!

Just peachy!
Just peachy!

Yesterday, I made an apple pie using Addie’s Apples. Literally. These apples were picked from the trees at the Homestead.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
I don’t know the variety of apple, but the flesh is crisp and tart. It held up well in the baking. I’m going to pick more this week and make applesauce.
Addie's Apples before...
Addie’s Apples before…
... and after.
… and after.

My hubby tried an apple fresh and found them rather tart. When I told him that I had made a pie he asked, “Did you put in lots of sugar?” Of course, I did, we’re talking brown sugar here!

The secret to success? Cold ingredients and limit handling: keys to fantastic pie crust. I used the pie crust recipe on the Crisco box and Edna Staebler’s Double Crust Apple Pie filling, copied here:

  • 3 cups of peeled, cored, and sliced apples (I used 4 cups. Next time I will use more – the crust to fruit ratio can use some tweaking)

Toss the apples in with the following:

  • 2/3 to 1 cup sugar, depending on tartness of apples
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I omitted this – too lazy to grate the nutmeg)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Place in pie shell and dot with

  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of milk or cream

Cover with the top crust, flute edges, and slash the top to create vents for steam to escape.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes until the crusts are a pale golden colour.

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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.

The Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Canadian Woman of the Year Award

The collective impact of our country’s female leaders cannot be understated.

Introducing: The Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Canadian Woman of the Year Award is the premier national award of Women’s Institute celebrating the achievements of the most successful in this inspiring group. This award recognizes a woman for demonstrating excellence—from leadership to social change, from local to global reach, across multiple sectors. We are honored to shine a spotlight on her.

Nominations Now Open
We have a wonderful opportunity to recognize some of the top female leaders in Canada through the Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Canadian Woman of the Year Award. These women do not have to be members of Women’s Institute. This Award seeks to acknowledge dedicated women whose contributions make their communities and our world a better place to live.

Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Canadian Woman of the Year Award recognizes the hard work, dedication, and support that these women have offered and continue to offer as they give leadership, inspire others, and make a difference while exhibiting the qualities of Adelaide Hunter Hoodless, the founder of the Women’s Institute Organization. Adelaide Hoodless dedicated her life to ensure women had educational opportunities. Adelaide Hoodless was called “one of the most famous Canadian women…yet one of the most obscure.” She is credited as being co-founder of the Women’s Institute, the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), the National Council of Women, the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON), and a major force behind the formation of three faculties of Household Science.

Adelaide Hoodless exemplified women supporting women, through education, encouragement, and social action.

To nominate yourself or a friend, please complete the one page nomination form downloadable from the FWIC website and submit it to fwican@gmail.com.

Nominees will be judged based on the leadership they have exhibited and the ways they have given back to community by mentoring or supporting other women.

Nominations will close at midnight on December 31st each year and winners will be notified in February.

Please contact your WI provincial office or visit our website for the one page application. Please note nominations are open to all living Canadian women who inspire others and work for positive change for their community or country. Applications are due to FWIC by December 31 of each year.

Dr. Ellen McLean being presented with the award in her home by Nova Scotia WI member Eleanor Lilley.
Dr. Ellen McLean being presented with the award in her home by Nova Scotia WI member Eleanor Lilley.

Congratulations to Dr. Ellen McLean of Nova Scotia for being the premiere recipient of The Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Canadian Woman of the Year.

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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.

Fundraising with Victorian Flare

Fall is upon us and that means two things for those of us WI gals in Brant County:

  1. The St. George Applefest.
  2. And a return to our regular scheduled WI program.

Festival organizer Jean Tucker wrote in a March 2015 press release, “The 30th anniversary edition of St. George AppleFest was recently selected as one of the Top 100 Festivals & Events in Ontario (out of 2,500 events) by Festivals & Events Ontario (FEO). Nestled centrally to Cambridge, Paris and Brantford, St. George is blessed with apple blossoms in the spring and a fresh crop of apples in the fall. At this time of year our community “comes alive” and hosts a fantastic festival highlighting apples, pies, crafts, artisans, live entertainment, kids’ rides and much more.”

The event is held in and around the center of town adjacent to the gorgeous Sunnyside Mansion presently owned by David Bailey. This year, David has invited Women Inspiring Women WI to host an Open House and Victorian Fair during the St. George Applefest. The public will get a rare opportunity to take in some history in one of Brant County’s most historic homes.

Sunnyside fundraiserSunnyside stands as a memorial to its former owners, Dr. and Mrs. E.E. Kitchen, who contributed much to the life and times of their era and to their community. Dr. Kitchen’s wife, Annie Charlton, was a friend of Mrs. Adelaide Hunter Hoodless, founder of the Women’s Institute. Mrs. Kitchen supported Mrs. Hoodless in her work by holding Women’s Institute meetings at Sunnyside.*

The Sunnyside Mansion was built at 13 Main St. South, St. George in 1888 and is very rarely opened to the public. Events on September 19th will include a partial home tour, Victorian­-style games, music in the parlour room, tea & refreshments and a silent auction. The event will be open to the public, with admission by donation at the door. Proceeds are in support of the Brant Community Foundation’s David Bailey Legacy Fund and Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Homestead, home to the founder of the Women’s Institute. The event holds special significance for Brant County WI members as the very first meeting of the St. George Branch was hosted here in 1903.

The mansion gained recent notoriety as a film set for the popular Canadian detective drama Murdoch Mysteries. Members of the Women Inspiring Women W.I, local historians in period costumes, local dignitaries, and the public will be on hand to celebrate the unique peek back in time.

Apple Blossom Recipe on YouTube - click on through
Apple Blossom Recipe on YouTube – click on through

On the Facebook Event page, organizer Andrea Roddy invites WI members and friends to volunteer for the weekend. Email invitations for volunteer sign-ups have been sent to all WIW WI members. You can also access the sign-up by following these 3 easy steps:

1) Click this link to see our Sign-Up on VolunteerSpot: http://vols.pt/J5F8us
2) Review the options listed and choose the spot(s) you like.
3) Sign up! It’s Easy – you will NOT need to register an account or keep a password on VolunteerSpot.

Note: VolunteerSpot does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please contact Andrea and she can sign you up manually.

Applefest runs Saturday September 19th 10 AM – 6 PM and Sunday September 20th 10 AM – 5 PM.

Sunnyside Open House ­ hosted by the Women Inspiring Women W.I. at 13 Main Street South, St. George, Ontario Saturday, September 19th, 2015 @ 10am ­ 4pm

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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.

Stanstead Journal Profile of Linda Hoy, FWIC President

The following article is reprinted with permission by Victoria Vanier of the Stanstead Journal. The original was published in print on August 5th and will be available online at a later date.

Local woman begins FWIC presidency

DSC_0153Earlier this summer, Linda Hoy, of Sand Hill, took over the reins of the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada (FWIC) , the national organization that ‘umbrellas’ the individual Women’s Institutes across the country. Ms. Hoy officially became the president at that organization’s Annual Convention, held in New Brunswick in June.

Asked what her priorities will be as the new president, Linda commented: “We will continue to work on the seeds of change that were planted in the last triennium by “Making Change Count”. That is the theme chosen by my new board at the Post Convention Board meeting.”

“We want to continue the partnership we have with Vesey’s Bulb fundraising program, the International Peace Garden and the Scholarship and a new award called the Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Canadian Women of the Year Award. It is the premier national award of Women’s Institute celebrating the achievements of the most successful in this inspiring group. The award recognizes a woman for demonstrating excellence – from leadership to social change, from local to global reach, across multiple sectors. We are honored to shine a spotlight on her.
Plans to celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary are being talked about with a year-long party.”

“The Strategic Plan for the next three years will be for the organization to be more visible by publicizing and promoting our organization in the local newspapers. The Stanstead Journal has always been a support to the WI in the area and we hope that it will continue for many years to come. By promoting and publicizing we are hoping to recruit new members. I have challenged each of our 9,000 members to recruit one new member a year. We have seen a new branch formed in Paris, Ontario, with 45 members. Social media (Facebook) played a big part in getting 100 interested ladies to come to an information night. The Women’s Institute is not just for the rural ladies – there is a need to bring the WI to the urban cities.”

Linda as Willie the Worm
Linda as Willie the Worm

As President, Linda has been invited to visit each province during her term. It could be for an annual convention, Anniversary or special event such as the Board in Quebec in 2017. Linda will be appearing in her Willie the Worm costume as she travels across the country to raise funds for the organization rather than raising the membership fees.

 

“I am proud to represent all Women’s Institute members from my branch here in the Eastern Townships to Quebec and all across Canada – from Coast to Coast to Coast,” concluded Ms. Hoy.

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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.

Membership Monday – Meet Reta MacDonald

If you live on the east coast, you have probably come across Saltscapes.  It is a magazine produced in Halifax.  While the content usually concerns the Atlantic Provinces, it is widely read. Barb Taylor alerted us to the July/August issue that features a profile of WI Life Member Reta MacDonald. In her email, Barb wrote, “WI doesn’t get a lot of publicity, so I thought this was noteworthy.”

I heartily agree.

Since the story is not yet available on the Saltscapes webpage, here are some tidbits to tempt you to seek out your own copy. Once you’ve read Reta’s story, I hope you will be tempted to submit your own!

Reta MacDonald
“The organizations I belong to, we always try to do some good for someone” by Reta MacDonald, as told to Philip Moscovitch for Saltscapes

You could call Reta MacDonald of Ebenezer, PEI a “joiner.” At 82, she is out-going and remains committed to the many community organizations she belongs to. A former teacher – who thought nothing of teaching 10 different grades herself – and a mother of three, MacDonald values the old-fashioned bonds of family and community.

She is particularly proud of her lifelong association with the women’s Institute in PEI. She first joined as a teacher, and eventually served as provincial president. While she jokes that “people have a picture of the Women’s Institute as that tea-drinking group of old ladies who meet, bake and gossip,” she values the way the group has connected her not only to her local community, but also to national and international charitable and educational efforts.

Reta was born in Milton, attended Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown, and she taught in East Wiltshire, North Winsloe, and East Royalty.

In the early days, teachers were expected to join the WI. Local branches maintained the schools. The WI bought toilet tissue, they bought chalk, they bought blackboard erasers – they supplied the school with those essentials. Reta recalls when the WI came to the school and washed the floors and walls in preparation for the new school year.  Reta joined the WI in each town she lived in.  Her mother was also a member.

Reta and her husband Douglas entered their home in the Rural Beautification Society’s annual contest and won the prize — for three consecutive years!

She explained how inclusive WI is – there is no barrier to being a member. For instance, a church club membership is defined by the religious denomination, but we [the WI] welcome everyone. Someone might belong to a church family, but WI is a community family.

Reta worries about the future of the WI with the aging membership and weaker community bonds. Her WI holds an annual “meet your neighbour” night in order to make new friends and a stronger community.

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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.