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Archive for the ‘Women’s Institute News’ Category

Here is our second excerpt from Meadow Bank W.I. Tweedsmuir History from 1951 which talks about the establishment of the Women’s Institute in 1913 and re-establishment again in 1938. 

Meadow Bank was one of the pioneer Institutes organized on Prince Edward Island. In The Guardian of March 17th, 1913, we find the following item:

On March 14th, 1913, despite the inclemency of the weather, Mrs. A.E. Dunbrack (the organizer) had a large number of residents of Cornwall and vicinity to listen to her interesting talk on the Women’s Institute movement, after which she gave an illustrated lecture on the principles underlying the cooking of meat. Mrs. Dunbrack was given authority to announce to the government that forty-five women were anxious to organize themselves into an Institute in that section and would guarantee that the movement would have their untiring support.

Also, in The Guardian of April 8th, 1913 appeared:

Women’s Institutes were organized yesterday afternoon at Cornwall and Meadow Bank. The objective of the Institute is the improvement of the conditions of home life in our Province, and it is hoped by means of the meeting of the practical and enterprising women of each community to discuss the improvement of homes and surroundings; the condition of schoolhouses; public health, in short, anything that goes to the wellbeing of the district as well as the interchange of thought and information will bring the desired result.

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Mrs. W.W. Crosby, first president of the Meadow Bank Women’s Institute

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Mrs. Mary E. Roper, first secretary of the Meadow Bank Women’s Institute

Mrs. W.W. Crosby and Mrs. Mary E. Roper who had both attended the March 1st meeting at Cornwall were on April 7th (our official birthday) made president and secretary, respectively, of the Meadow Bank Branch and continued as such for the next six years during which time the women of the district met monthly, sometimes in the school and sometimes in the different homes.

It was the time of World War I and sewing and knitting and the packing of boxes for the boys overseas was a major project. One of the first improvements to the school was a hardwood floor which served until the year 1950 when it was overlaid with plywood and battleship linoleum.

 

With the cessation of hostilities in 1919, interest on the part of some waned and it was decided to disband. For a number of years, a few of the women joined the Cornwall-York Point Branch and this branch was gradually joined by others.

The care and management of the Cornwall Hall was given over by the shareholders to the Institutes who have made many improvements to it. Among these might be mentioned, redecorating, installing of electric lights, stage properties and a piano.

On December 7th, 1938, the Cornwall-York Point Institutes, having grown inconveniently large, members of Meadow Bank reorganized their own branch but continue to contribute one-third of the maintenance cost of the hall.

Officers since 1938 have been:

Presidents:

  • Mrs. Frank Boyle
  • Mrs. Victor MacPhail
  • Mrs. Colin MacPhail
  • Miss Laura Crosby
  • Mrs. Charles Hyde
  • Mrs. Stirling Clow
  • Mrs. Pearl Scott
  • Mrs. Victor MacPhail (2 years)
  • Mrs. Elmer Clow
  • Miss Laura Crosby (2 years)
  • Mrs. L.H. Drake
  • Mrs. Victor MacPhail (2 years)
  • Mrs. Harvey MacLean

Secretaries:

  • Mrs. Norman MacFadyen
  • Mrs. Stanley Hyde (2 years)
  • Mrs. L.H. Drake
  • Mrs. Stirling Clow
  • Mrs. Norman MacFadyen
  • Miss Laura Crosby (3 years)
  • Mrs. Harvey MacLean
  • Mrs. Charles Hyde (2 years)
  • Mrs. Sterling Clow
  • Mrs. Stanley Hyde (2 years)
  • Mrs. James Yeo

Notes:

  • On July 10th, 1950, Mrs. W.W. Crosby was honoured with a Life Membership in the Prince Edward Island Women’s Institute because of her pioneer Institute work in this Province.
  • The Meadow Bank W.I. prepared the community history from which this series of featured excerpts is taken.
  • If you have any photos of the Meadow Bank W.I., please send them to vivian@eastlink.ca and we will add them to this story.

Stay tuned for our third excerpt that talks about the establishment of a school in Meadow Bank.

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Copy of history book

Joanne (MacFadyen) Turner presented us with a copy of a brief history of Meadow Bank that was completed in 1951, given to her by her Uncle Lennis MacFadyen. The history was prepared by the Meadow Bank Women’s Institute and handwritten in beautiful penmanship by Laura Crosby. It features photos and individual histories of Meadow Bank farms and descriptions of early community life. For many years, there was only one copy of this history that passed around the community for reading. Later, there were a few photocopies produced, so we thought we would give it a broader audience on our website and feature excerpts of the history 66 years later. We invite those with further historical information to add notes in the comments’ section below or to email vivian@eastlink.ca. We will make sure that our friends in Meadow Bank receive any information or photos that you send.

They entitled the document The Meadow Bank W.I. Tweedsmuir History, as it was inspired by Lady Tweedsmuir, the wife of the former Governor General of Canada (1935-40) who promoted literacy in Canada, established the first public library at Rideau Hall and was delighted to see Women’s Institutes of Canada compiling community history books. More about Lord and Lady Tweedsmuir here. The first of our featured excerpts follows:

Introduction to Meadow Bank
(written by Lawson Drake at 20 years old before he left to attend Cambridge University in England)

Some five miles upstream from Charlottetown, on the north bank of the river Elliot, lies the rural community of Meadow Bank. To its inhabitants and to its visitors, this country settlement presents the finest scenery of which Prince Edward Island is capable. Let us look for a moment at Meadow Bank as it is today.

There are 21 farms homes with a total population of some 80 men, women and children. Of the 2,089 acres of land, a portion is under actual cultivation. The remainder is largely in the form of farm woodlots. Good quality and fine fields distinguish the farm produce in the district.

Meadow Bank is bound by Hyde Creek on the East, the Elliot River on the South, the Clyde River on the West and the districts of Cornwall and Clyde River on the North. The community is reached by a side road from Highway 2A at Cornwall. The road follows the perimeter of an imperfect square to regain the Highway 1/2 mile east of the Clyde River Bridge, the highway itself forming the fourth side of the square. The land rises in gently rolling hills to an elevation not exceeding 150 feet above sea level. The road in many places follows the height of land and from here the observer is met by a pastoral panorama unparalleled in the serenity of its beauty. Dominating all and providing a fitting backdrop for the pleasing mosaic of the lush green pastures and rich red fields is the calm blue width of the river, the sunlight gleaming and dancing on the crests of the tiny wavelets. All about one is the evidence of the husbandry of man, the well-kept fences which enclose the fields, the stacks of hay and the fields of potatoes with their long straight rows.

How different it must have been 200 years ago. The river was there with its laughing water, the Minnehaha of Mi’kmaq. But the land had yet to be cleared, the soil yet to be tilled, the homesteads yet to be built. The forest covered all.

Stay tuned for the next excerpt: History of the Meadow Bank Women’s Institute – established in 1913

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Hilda Beer

Hilda Beer attending Landscape of Memories book launch at Riverview Community Centre

In writing memorials for our community website, one knows it is only a matter of time before you must write one for a dear family member. Emily Bryant had kindly prepared the lovely tribute to my mother back in 2012. The other challenge for me now is to write a piece on someone who would not want me to be too showy in my praise.

When I reflect back on a woman I have known my entire life, who I grew up next to and who was my second mother, it is difficult to narrow down the many wonderful memories and qualities that I cherish. She represents a generation that is all but gone from our lives. The Murray Diaries written by Hilda’s grandmother offer insight into what built this generation of strong and steady folks, not easily knocked down by events or influenced by trends. They knew where they came from and their values, they knew their relations from near and far and they abided by their faith at all times. They were born at the end of The Great War and lived through The Depression and World War II. They were there for each other during times of celebration and times of sorrow. They saw unprecedented growth in technology and medical advances but never lost sight of the difference between a need and a want. They considered life to be a precious gift.

Aunt Hilda’s mother Katherine lived until she was 100 years old, having descended from strong MacDonald genes, the same as my mother and their long-living cousins. Hilda’s father, Wallace Murray, died when she was nine years old. I had the honour of transcribing 5 of the 15 years of Murray diaries (1911-1926) that recounted her father’s daily life which she joyfully read. I still recall the time she came over to scan and enlarge a small family photo when she had a chance to see the face of her father and she kept it framed in her bedroom from then on.

Aunt Hilda was my mother’s first cousin, their mothers, Katie and Janie, were sisters. The two families were very close. They lived directly across from each other, one on the Clyde River side and the other on the Meadowbank side of the river, and as kids, they would run down to the bottom of the fields to talk across the water. As young women, they married brothers Arnold and John Beer, so we children, Blois, Doreen and I, were double relations and neighbours to their children Donna and Fred. Cousins and sisters-in-law Hilda and Hazel enjoyed working and raising their families on a farm, were members of Burnside Presbyterian Church, participated in the Missionary Society and were life members of the Clyde River Women’s Institute.

The W.I. ladies remember Hilda as a dedicated, graceful and humble worker – beautiful inside and out. She was true to the Mary Stewart Collect. She preferred to be in the background, but her quiet strength was a great source of wisdom. She was a wonderful baker and took pride in the presentation of food and arranging things to look nice. Audrey MacPhee recalls Hilda then in her 90s arriving at the Centre with her basket over her arm which held goodies for the Strawberry Social, even though it wasn’t expected, and her saying “Oh, it’s not much”. Also, in her 90s, she came both days to the Apple Pie Festival and “crimped to perfection” dozens and dozens of pies, all the while enjoying the camaraderie of other community volunteers and instructing young helpers.

Hilda believed in living a healthy lifestyle. She ate organic vegetables from her own garden before it was popular to do so and walked every day that she could. Her and Uncle Arnold only retired from farming in their early 70s but continued a regimen of daily walks to the back fields of their property. They graciously hosted many visiting Beer, Darrach, and Murray relatives; church guests; and family gatherings at their home. After Uncle Arnold’s passing in 2001, she spent winters in Charlottetown but enjoyed summer retreats back at her country homestead. We enjoyed visiting her there and she always had delicious cookies. She was blessed with great health up until a year ago when she developed Fibrosis which compromised her breathing. Her mind and memory were intact. She was a valuable resource on Clyde River history projects and attended many of the historical lectures and events along with her daughter Donna.

Hilda was proud of her family – Donna (Glydon) and Fred (Jeannie), her grandchildren Joelle (José), Jason and Jeff (Mariska), and she was especially blessed to live long enough to see her great-grandchildren Jonas, Jorgia, Henry and Matilda. Each one of her family has a knitted afghan that she lovingly made for them over long Island winters.

Aunt Hilda was part of a generation of solid folks that offer great examples of how to live life well.

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IMG_2760.JPGI travelled out from the city to the Strawberry Social last evening hosted by the Clyde River Women’s Institute. They had a great crowd. As folks arrive, you get a little sticker with a number which is called when seats are available. Alex Dixon says he comes at the same time each year, and this year he had a higher number, deducing there were more overall. I had a chance to sit with J’Nan and Kirk Brown to catch up on their news. They are celebrating their wedding anniversary this summer and still smiling brightly. As usual, they are expecting summer visitors. Not surprising, they live in heaven down by the river.

Sandra Cameron hosted history enthusiasts in the Emily Bryant Room during the event and she had lots of visitors. There are so many things to see. Each treasure tells a story, rather, generations of stories. I recounted one story to some visitors about the small salt dish with a pink hue on the second shelf of the display case which could easily be overlooked. The dish was Lee Darrach’s, the Lee that fought in both WW1 and WW2. He was in the Halifax Infirmary during the time of the Halifax explosion. The explosion catapulted the salt dish onto his hospital bed. He saved it as a testament to having survived once again. He passed it on to his brother Hector which was then given to his grandson and he gave it us. It sits on the same shelf as Lee’s photo in uniform and the two Christmas cards and many letters he sent to his family during the war. These were donated to us from his other grand nephew in Florida. As part of the Capturing Memories project when we invited donations of artifacts, I stopped being surprised by synchronicity. These historical items were coming home along with their stories. This is a memory room, and when we linger by each humble piece, we can remember the people who came before.

J’Nan invited me to drop down to her farm to get a dozen blue eggs from her Ameraucana hens after the social. She and Sidney Poritz who owns the adjoining property debate which of them has the more beautiful land. I am happy to stand on her front yard looking across their fields to the rivers. It’s where the West River and Clyde River meet. Sidney lives on the homestead of my great grandparents. That is where Lee Darrach was raised. I have the letters his mother wrote to her boys between 1904-07 talking about daily life. This was all Darrach property at one time. J’Nan recalls Mrs. MacNeill who lived here before she and Kirk purchased the farm. Mrs. MacNeill told her “the view sustained me”.

As I drove out the long lane from J’Nan and Kirk’s, I was struck by the sunset over Dunedin. The synchronicity of this moment was not lost. I stopped, took a few shots and emailed my favourite to J’Nan with a subject line “Sunset in Heaven”.

Editor’s note: Earlier stories were written on the Brown’s (This Old Barn has some Stories to Tell) and Poritz (Darrach-Poritz Homestead) properties.

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Strawberries

Strawberry Social

The Clyde River Women’s Institute will host their annual Strawberry and Ice Cream Social on Wednesday, July 13th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Riverview Community Centre, 728 Clyde River Rd. Come meet your friends, neighbours and, of course, those home from away, and enjoy a dish of ice cream with strawberries and sweets. Take out not available.

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StrawberriesClyde River Women’s Institute will host their Strawberry Social on Wednesday, July 22nd, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Riverview Community Centre. It’s a little later than usual due to our late Spring delaying crops. We will savour the taste of the strawberries that much more.

The Social is a great homecoming occasion with neighbours, families and relations home from away.

An added highlight this year will be tours of the Emily Bryant Room where you can view a gallery of photos and display of artifacts depicting Clyde River history from the late 1800s to 1960s. This collection represents a great deal of work from a dedicated group of seniors from within and connected to the community.

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Clyde River will be busy with upcoming events and you can be, too.

Wednesday, May 20th – 7:00 p.m. – West River Watershed Update – Riverview Community Centre – For the past several years the Central Queens Wildlife Federation has been doing work during the summer months to improve the health of community’s rivers.  Once again, Megan Harris, West River Watershed Coordinator, will be providing an update on the work to date and the plans for the coming season.  Megan’s presentation takes place at 7:00 pm Wednesday, May 20th.  Everyone is welcome to attend and find out more.

Saturday, May 23 – 9:00 to 12:00 noon – Murchison Place Park Clean up – Bring your own garden and clean up tools e.g. shovels, rakes…some Rubber Maid totes would be great. Food, refreshments and team spirit will be provided.

Wednesday, July 1st – 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. – Canada Day – Riverview Community Centre – It’s a birthday party! Be a kid again or still. Enjoy hotdogs, cake and ice cream. Help us raise the flag, sing the anthem and celebrate Canada’s big day.

Wednesday, July 22nd – 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. – Strawberry Social – Riverview Community Centre – The big summer event for Clyde River Women’s Institute is, of course, the annual Strawberries and Ice Cream Festival where young and not so young gather to enjoy the scumptious desserts and meet friends and neighbours.  Admission at the door.

Saturday, July 25th – 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon – Art in the Park – Murchison Place Park – Clyde River Artist Julia Purcell will lead a Plein Air event. We welcome beginners to seasoned artists for a morning of painting in and around the park. Bring along your own art supplies, easel, hat, sunscreen and lunch. We also welcome those who enjoy watching art being created. Coffee provided.

Make the most of this summer and join in.

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