The Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE)
The Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE) is a women's organization celebrating Canada's participation in the British Empire (now referred to as the Commonwealth). The IODE was founded in 1900 by Margaret Polson Murray of Montreal, who recognized a need for loyal support for Canadians leaving to fight with the Empire forces in South Africa. Murray encouraged the formation of a federation of women to promote patriotism, loyalty, and service. The IODE soon encouraged women of all ages to gather in a social context for fun, friendship, and community volunteerism.
Because of Canada’s historic connection to Great Britain, the IODE was eager to welcome British newcomers to this country. Members provided shelter to all those seeking refuge from the “Blitz” (Nazi bombing campaign of Britain in 1941–42). Members of the IODE sent wedding dresses to British war brides and, upon their arrival in Canada, welcomed them with teas and parties. In 1944, the IODE published From Kith to Kin, a booklet written to help British war brides adapt to their new home.
War work was of the utmost importance to the organization. The Department of National Defence assigned theIODE the task of collecting and sending books and other comforts such as cigarettes and clothing to soldiers—particularly to servicemen and women in the Navy who received fewer provisions than soldiers in other branches of the Armed Forces. Each chapter of the IODE adopted a Canadian maritime vessel and sent goods to the sailors. The IODE of Canada, including members in Alberta, managed to raise enough money to build a Bolingbroke bomber for the Air Force.
At the end of the war, the IODE welcomed returning soldiers and their war brides with parties. The organization also helped establish war memorials to honour the thousands of servicemen and women who never returned home. The IODE’s demand that women vacate their jobs in favour of returning veterans was met with some resistance. Members of the IODE firmly believed that women and men had distinct roles in society and that women should relinquish their wartime jobs when Canadian soldiers returned home from the war.
Patriotism was paramount to members of the IODE; some historians have even characterized the organization as nativist. The IODE was concerned with home defence and the fifth column of potential subversives in Canada. In 1942, the Alberta chapter of the IODE petitioned the Canadian government to place enemy aliens and subversive naturalized Canadians in concentration camps for the duration of the war.
Pickles, Katie. Female Imperialism and National Identity: Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002.