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The United Farm Women of Alberta (UFWA)

The United Farm Women of Alberta (UFWA) formed in 1914, at the onset of the First World War. An arm of the United Farmers of Alberta, the members of the women’s branch sought to improve the economic, social, and legal conditions for farmers operating in the province and to work for world peace. In 1916, the UFWA became an autonomous organization with its own provincial executive led by president Irene Parlby. The UFWA was immediately popular since many farmwomen were interested in discussing and contributing to policies that directly affected their livelihood. Membership reached a peak in 1921 with 4,536 members in 309 locals. In the interwar years, the UFWA partnered with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in its efforts to promote international disarmament.

Despite its efforts to lobby for the peaceful resolution to international incidents, the UFWA fully supported the war effort. The organization had great success organizing rural women for various voluntary activities and exploited their pre-war connections in the medical community to aid the Red Cross and St. John Ambulance in the delivery of their services.

Members of UFWA locals knit and sewed clothing and blankets and made up food parcels to donate to the Canadian Red Cross, which, in turn, delivered these to Prisoners of War, military personnel, and displaced civilians. The Westlock chapter even helped equip a Red Cross mobile unit for overseas work.

Many of the women of the UFWA were left to care for their families, homes, and farms while their husbands and other male relatives served overseas. These same individuals not only raised their children and ran the family farm, but they also found time to make and donate quilts to refugees, raise funds for Bundles for Britain and various relief funds, and organize a host of fundraising events. At the end of the war, UFWA chapters hosted welcoming parties for war brides and aided in their adjustment to rural life in Canada.

References

Fraser, Frances. The Milo-Queenstown U.F.W.A. and F.W.U.A., 1917–1967: 50 Golden Years. Edmonton: Farm Women's Union of Alberta, 1967.

Langford, Nanci. Politics, Pitchforks, and Pickle Jars: 75 Years of Organized Farm Women in Alberta. Calgary: Detselig Enterprises Ltd., 1997.


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