Try this on – See if it Fits

Hey Women Inspired! We are less than two months away! Then we’re officially official with a name and mission and a plan!

The turnout at our information session February 12 was beyond our expectations. In the meantime, we continue to promote the Women’s Institute on our Facebook Group Page and plan for the March 28 fundraising event to be held in collaboration with Nova Vita.

As of today’s count, about 45 women will attend the March 12 meeting. Number one on the agenda is choosing our name. Then we can finally move forward on paperwork that’s been stacking up. Things like bank accounts and web sites and tattoos* and stuff.

We also want to get a head start on our program for the year. We will brainstorm the charities or causes we will support, speakers, outings, festivities, and fundraising events.

We also want to discuss the roles of branch officers and committee chairs. Traditionally, branch responsibilities have been shared among the executive officers. You know, President and Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and so on. While most branches still choose to be organized this way, it is not mandatory. Branches who wish to share responsibilities among the members must designate someone as Contact person and another as Treasurer.

Once the branch is formed in April we will hold elections. Check out the following positions. Perhaps there is something here you’d like to try on for size.


The Leader of the branch. She runs the meetings and  is hostess of the evening – greets the guests and speakers and new members. The President keeps tabs on projects,  committees and sub groups that form, and basically oversees the branch. If there is enough interest in this position, the role of Vice President can be filled. This gal will fill in for the President when she is unable to attend meetings.


The Secretary prepares the agenda, takes minutes of the meetings and prepares and delivers the written minutes to the members. She passes along any news from the Federation of Women’s Institutes of Ontario (FWIO). She is the primary contact between the branch and the provincial and federal offices. If there is more than one person interested in this role? Yup, you guessed it. A Vice Secretary is elected.

Speaking of minutes: many of our membership are online. But there are few who are not, and it is important that we find a way to keep these gals in the loop. We will set up a buddy system to pair up those with internet with those without.


This gal is responsible for the finances of the branch. She collects dues, pays the speakers and other service providers, keeps the books and prepares them for audit and presentation at the annual meeting.

Committee 1Advocacy Coordinator

The Advocacy Coordinator is the spokesperson for the branch regarding resolutions. Some of the duties may include: preparing resolutions, acting on local issues and concerns, and working with the Provincial Advocacy Coordinator.

Here is a snippet from the FWIO website.

Women’s Institute Members have been instrumental in establishing new laws and amending existing ones. Our Members voice their concerns and initiate resolutions at the community, provincial, national and international levels.

Historically, FWIO has played a pivotal role in influencing many changes to provincial laws and practices, including:

  • Mandatory stopping for school buses with flashing lights
  • Installation of railway crossing signs
  • Painting of white lines on provincial highways
  • Implementation of easy-to-understand food labels
  • Enforcement of proper use of slow-moving vehicle signs
  • Clear markings on poison containers

Committee 2Membership Coordinator

Some of the duties in this position may include outreach to promote WI at colleges or universities, for example ; speaking engagements or letter writing to attract new members; mentoring new members who join.

Committee 4Public Relations Coordinator 

This gal gets the word out. She writes our media releases to alert the press about our meetings, special events, and otherwise keeps our name in the spotlight. Social media and other writing projects like a blog or website are handled by this position.

ROSE Coordinator

Simply put, ROSE (Rural Ontario Sharing Education) is what Women’s Institutes have been doing for over 118 years – providing education to help build stronger families and vibrant communities.  This unique province-wide initiative is driven by WI Members who often work with local community organizations and businesses to increase awareness, provide support and promote community action.

The ROSE Coordinator promotes education to the branch and community. As long as one person from the public who is not a WI member attends the event, it qualifies as a ROSE program. Some of the duties may include: developing educational programs and activities for the community and promoting and organizing ROSE Sessions. You can read more about ROSE on the FWIO Website.

Tweedsmuir Coordinator

This position will appeal to the historian and the record keeper. She compiles and coordinates Tweedsmuir History Books. Some of the duties may include: writing and editing material and planning and exhibiting the Tweedsmuir Books.

Baroness Tweedsmuir
Susan Buchan, Baroness Tweedsmuir (née Susan Charlotte Grosvenor) (1882–1977) was the wife of author John Buchan. Between 1935 and 1940 she was viceregal consort of Canada while her husband was the Governor General. She was also the author of several novels, children’s books, and biographies, some of which were published under the name Susan Tweedsmuir.

Who or what is a Tweedsmuir? Here’s how the County of Elgin Women’s Institutes explain it:

west lorne TweedsmuirIn the mid 1930s Lady Tweedsmuir, wife of the Governor General began encouraging Women’s Institute branches to preserve the history of their communities in response to what she saw as a rapidly changing and urbanizing landscape. By 1947, local branches across the province were compiling living “scrapbooks” which came to be known as Tweedsmuir Histories. In many ways, the members of the Women’s Institutes were the unofficial archivists of their communities. They acquired records, oral histories, photographs and much more for inclusion in their volumes, leaving us today with an outstanding resource on the history of rural Ontario.  Click on the blue book cover right for a sample of a Tweedsmuir.

The roles listed above are the positions recommended and described on the FWIO website. We expect that we will also need the following positions filled:

  • Program Coordinator plans the content or topic for each meeting. This gal and her team will need to work hand-in-hand with the
  • Event Coordinator/Committee who plan special occasions like summer picnics or fundraising or Champagne Breakfast Celebrations (hint, hint). Both these committees will need to work closely with the
  • Volunteer Coordinator who will organize the helping hands for meetings or events for things like arranging for tea and cookies, organizing cleanup afterward, or finding someone with power tools and the skills to use them.

What do you think? Is there something here that suits you? Drop us a line if you have any more questions or suggestions.

Paris WI

* just kidding**

** then again…

This tattoo adorns the body of the President of the Cambridge Blue Belles WI, UK
This tattoo adorns the body of the President of the Cambridge Blue Belles WI, UK. Click on the image for the blog post.

Federation Bulletin for March 2015 – Dates and Events to Remember

fwic logo (350x177)

Included in this issue of the Federation Bulletin is the reminder that a number of deadlines are drawing close. We wrote about the Senator Cairine Wilson and  Tweedsmuir Competitions and the Peace Garden Scholarship last year, if you’d like a refresher.

March 2015 Deadlines

Erland Lee is credited with encouraging Adelaide Hunter Hoodless to speak to the wives of the Farmers’ Institute. From this talk, the first WI was formed in 1897 at the Stoney Creek home of Erland and Janet Lee. The homestead is now owned by the Federation of Women’s Institutes of Ontario and serves as a museum and headquarters of the FWIO.

Erland Lee Competition

erland lee

The FWIC Quilt Draw Sales are well under way. The Quilt Draw is traditionally an important fundraiser for FWIC. The last two conventions both sold nearly 1500 tickets each, raising almost $6000 total! Please continue to sell and promote tickets sales within your province.

Donna Henderson Quilt a


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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.