Little Fort Women's Institute, 1943. Front: (from l-r) Mrs. E. Edwards, Mrs. Pare, Mrs. Jakel, Mrs. Frances Woodward. Back: Mrs. Loveway, Mrs. Laskey, Mrs. Livingstone, Mrs. Cunnington, Peggy Mullin and Gwen Woodward. (Upper North Thompson Reflections)

The Women’s Institute in the North Thompson Valley

The following are excerpts from the book Upper North Thompson Reflections, a history book compiled by Clearwater and District History Book Committee and published in 1996. There are a handful of stories about the history of the Women’s Institute, both overall and in various areas, of which the Clearwater Times has provided bits and pieces of here.

For Home and Country…And Birch Island

by Ken Madland from notes of Lois Moss et al.

The Women’s Institute movement began in Ontario in 1987 with the efforts of Adelaide Hoodless. By 1919 it had become a national ogranization, the Federated Women’s Institutes in Canada. Their reasons for existence were to help women in rural settings improve their domestic practices, organize communtiy improvement projects, broaden their exposure to the arts, encourage good citizenship and to advocate for women on issues of importance to them.

Tucked away in the Upper North Thompson Valley about half way between Vancouver and Edmonton is the small community of Birch Island. In early January, 1939, 18 women from this community of 150 to 175 people met for the purpose of forming a group to affiliate with the FWI in Canada. These women, mostly in their 30s and 40s but ranging in age from their early 20s to their 60s, were the wives, coworker and friends of the local general store and hotel…The original declaration application (Jan. 4, 1939) these women formulated included the following statement of purpose: “to improve conditions of rural life, so that settlement may be permanent and prosperous in the farming communties; to improve home economics, public health and child welfare, education and better schools, legislation, immigration and settlement; to encourage agriculture, home and local industries; and to promote social intercourse, mutual helpfulness and the diffusion of knowlegde, to make settlers welcome and improve community conditions.”

On July 18, 1939, the Birch Island WI received its charter and was incorporated under the Societies Act…

A History of the Clearwater Women’s Institute

by Marg Bennett, 1981

The following is an excerpt of a poem written by Bennett about the Clearwater Women’s Institute

In the fall of 1930 the WI was organized.

On Jan. 3, 1931, the Charter materialized.

A Mrs. Maxwell as the first President.

Over the meetings did preside.

With Mrs. Warren as Secretary

They worked diligently side by side.

The membership was small at first.

Just eight in all I believe.

But they worked hard and soon the support

Of others they received.

The Farmers had an institute, and then the two

Joined force to build a meeting hall of logs.

Skidded from the bush by horses.

One member helped to shingle the roof.

And others worked on it too.

The husbands’ help was enlisted.

They did have a hall, Brand New.

Meetings, dances, parties and church, all were held at this hall.

At some of the dances, it was said,

People really had a ball…

The Little Fort Women’s Institute

by Carol Scott

The Little Fort WI was formed on March 27, 1937, with a memebership of 13. Mrs. Hazel Loveway was responsible for organizing this group. She was elected first president and Miss Leone Latremouille the first secretary. Keenly interested in the Institute, Mrs. Loveway gave much of herself to the office of president until 1943.

During World War II, members made quilts, did Red Cross sewing, donated to “Jam for Britain” and “Milk for Britain” funds, contributed many pounds of clothing to the used clothing drive and purchased three Victory Bonds besides several War Savings Certificates. They also made donations to the Red Cross and Salvation Army. When they needed money they worked hard for it with teas, dances, raffles and card games…

In 1945, the main project undertaken by the Institute was the furnishing of a ward in the new wing of the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. The Little Fort ladies contacted other Institutes on the North River suggesting the idea. The cost of the ward, $500, was donated by five WI’s, Little Fort contributing $150. In recent years, the Little Fort group makes an ongoing annual donation to the Medical Libraries of Dr. Helmcken Hospital and to the Barriere Diagnostic and Treatment Centre…

Through the years, the Little Fort WI has taken an active role in the North Thompson Fall Fair. Individually, the members have entered many exhibits in fruit, vegetables, flowers, sweing and baking categories, as well as working together for the WI display and competitions. They have also sponsored local girls for the Queen Pageant…

Since it’s beginning in 1937, more than 50 ladies have belonged to this branch. The present (1996) membership is $15.

Star Lake Women’s Institute

by Wanda Richter

The Star Lake WI has been operating since 1943. Our first president was Mrs. Betty Johnston. The Institute started with 13 members; in 1995 we had a membership of 11. We have two life members, Mrs. Hazel Small and Mrs. Susan May Hendersen. The oldest member still living (as of 1996) is Mrs. Henderson, who celebrated her 100th birthday on February 20, 1995.

Although not organized until 1943, the war record of this group is impressive, which includes 300 cigarettes a month and a parcel each year to the 15 local boys who went overseas. A Sunday school was started in Blackpool with the members as teachers. Wedding showers were given to the daughters and granddaughters of members. Star Lake helped “both financially and with moral support” to establish the United Church in Clearwater.

Over the years, we have lost and gained many members. We have participated in the North Thompson Fall Fair, catered to many weddings and suppers. Our first bingo donations to charities now amount to over $9,000 a year. Our group donates this money to organizations that will help the people in the North Thompson Valley…We have bursaries, scholarships for sons and daughters of Institute members. Scholarships and bursaries are to help students to further their education and help with the finances of the student.

We celebrated our 50th year with a tea at the Blackpool Hall on June, 19, 1993.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

River’s incredible story came to an end when he was finally caught in a live trap on Dec. 13, 2020, after spending 16 days of surviving on his own in a North Thompson Valley wilderness area. (James Akey photo)
Bringing River home for Christmas

Lost dog saved from B.C. wilderness by a community that cared

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

(Jill Hayward photo)
Barriere Elementary advises COVId-19 school exposure

On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Barriere Elementary School advised school families that a… Continue reading

Dr. Rhonda Nixon has been appointed new superintendent and CEO for the School District 73. (SD73 photo)
SD73 Board of Education announces new superintendent

A new superintendent and CEO has been hired for SD73. The Board… Continue reading

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read