History of the Women's Institute in British Columbia
- In the early years, the Women's Institutes fulfilled many roles now taken over by others, for example:
- services similar to Welcome Wagon
- visiting of shut-ins
- care for the elderly
- assistance in time of illness and bereavement
- organizing "bees" to help families in time of special needs
- assistance to burned out families
- Women's Institutes funded the building of community halls.
- Since their inception, Women's Institutes have offered assistance to newcomers in rural communities.
- Women's Institutes organized and funded some of the earliest public washrooms in many British Columbia communities, including Duncan and Dawson Creek.
- Women's Institutes initiated flower shows, worked with early Fall Fairs and continue to support similar functions.
- Many rural hospitals, libraries, community halls and a variety of other facilities have their roots in the efforts of the Women's Institutes of the various communities.
1930s and 1940s
- Established the Queen Alexandra Solarium in 1927 (now known as the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children's Health) and continue to support it in the years since, with donations of money, sewed garments and gifts for the children, plus other donations.
- Participated in the founding and ongoing needs of the British Columbia Children's Hospital in Vancouvercontinued support with gifts of money, toys, garments.
- The three Saanich peninsula Women's Institutes (North, West, and South Saanich) were instrumental in the establishment of the Saanich Health Centre in the 1920s.
- Women's Institutes often were the social outlet for rural communitiesthey organized and funded community events such as children's parties for Christmas, Hallowe'en, Valentine's Day, July 1st, and others.
- Women's Institutes organized community dinners, dances, card parties, and numerous other entertainment events.
- In outlying communities, the Women's Institutes prepared and housed a maternity package that was available to any woman having a child. It contained items for the delivery and post-natal care of the mother and child. Midwives everywhere availed themselves of this kit.
- Established the Othoa Scott Fund in the 1920s to provide some assistance to needy families with children who need medical care not available in their own communities.
1950s and 1960s
- The Women's Institutes were very active in the development of the Provincial Park system we all enjoy now.
- We were instrumental in having the Pacific Dogwood named the British Columbia floral emblem.
- Our members made tons of jam, which was shipped to England during World War II.
- Many knitted and sewn items were prepared for Great Britain and the military in the two World Wars.
Through a resolution, persuaded the Provincial Government to paint the yellow lines on the side of the province's highways.
- On-going requests, through resolutions and other means, to help preserve the purity of the Canadian food chain, including setting high standards for the quality of milk, meats, vegetables, and fruits.
- Women's Institutes have encouraged and participated in the preservation of heritage buildings throughout British Columbia. These include pioneer schools, churches and community halls.
- Many of our groups are responsible for the upkeep of community halls.
- We provide financial support to local and provincial hospitals.
- Women's Institute members are actively monitoring community needs and then working to have them met.
- We are active in the preservation and care of pioneer cemeteries.
- We are active in the preservation of heritage crafts.
- Women's Institute members are active in the preservation of local history.
- Women's Institutes have provided scholarships and bursaries to students for the past 50 years.
- We raise issues of concern to residents through resolutions to government and other groups.
- Women's Institutes support 4-H Clubs as leaders, judges and with financial contributions.
- Through the efforts of members of the British Columbia Women's Institutes, Agriculture in the Classroom was introduced into B. C. Schools.
- Many of our groups offered financial support to national emergencies such as the 1998 Manitoba flood and the Ontario and Quebec ice storm.
Current Projects in the South Vancouver Island District
- The National Philanthropy Day celebration was held on Nov. 17, 2008 where the V were extremely proud to accept the 2008 award for the Outstanding Philanthropic Service Club. Representatives from North and South Island were there to accept this great honor. Nomination by the Queen Alexandra Foundation for Children.
- In May 2009, the South Vancouver Island Women's Institutes celebrated their 100 years with a train trip from Victoria to Qualicum and back, with lunch organized bye the Qualicum Women's Institute. The train picked up and dropped off members at their various stops.
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Salt Spring Island
Federated Women's Institutes of Canada
Associated Country Women
of the World