2016 marks the 70th anniversary of the Horsefly Women’s Institute.
This milestone symbolizes the determination and strength of rural women and was recently celebrated with an exhibit of information, photos, mementos and a cake at the Horsefly Fall Fair.
In Horsefly, the Women’s Institute was incorporated in 1946 with president Marguerite Webster and secretary-treasurer Irene Robertson.
The Horsefly Women’s Institute annually awards three bursaries to Horsefly post-secondary students.
As well, the Horsefly Women’s Institute financially donates to the Horsefly Fall Fair, BC Children’s Hospital, Horsefly 4-H Club, Horsefly Christmas Hamper Program, Horsefly school hot lunch program, Horsefly Volunteer Fire Department, Horsefly Community Club, the Horsefly Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Walk, and Horsefly citizens who have experienced personal trauma.
The WI also donates baby baskets to new parents and organizes memorial teas.
To sponsor these programs, fundraisers are held such as their annual pie sale, a craft sale and a December “ladies only” lunch and silent auction.
All proceeds are funnelled back into the community.
Currently the Horsefly Women’s Institute has 19 members and several associates. New members are always welcome to join and actively assist in the community organization.
Women’s Institutes exist in communities all across Canada.
The original Women’s Institute was formed in 1897 in Stoney Creek, Ontario by Adelaide Hoodless, after her infant son died from meningitis contracted through contaminated milk.
After the loss she travelled all over the province speaking as an advocate for teaching home economics in schools.
When she spoke in Stoney Creek at a Farmer’s Institute meeting she suggested forming a group with the purpose of broadening the knowledge of home economics and agriculture as well as to socialize.
Soon after that meeting the Women’s Institute movement was born with Hoodless as its first branch president.
The Women’s Institute colours of green, gold and white are attributed to the then Deputy Minister of Agriculture, W.E. Scott. He said they correlated to the work to be done; forever green like the fir, always renewing; pure and inspiring, as the eternal snows; inspired by the faith and courage of those who mine the golden treasures of home and of our nation.
Thus the motto of the Women’s Institute is For Home and Country.
Changes have continued for over 100 years as the Women’s Institute identifies community concerns, then, lobbies governments. First, the pasteurization of milk, followed by wrapping of bread, centre yellow lines of all provincial highways, grading of poultry for sale, stop signs at railway crossings, mandatory stopping for school buses (1962), clear markings for poison containers, and 4-H Clubs.
Note: Suzie Ambrose is president of the Horsefly Women’s Institute. Women wishing to join the organization can contact her at 250-296-9011.