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On Children

Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource.ca and The Famous Five Foundation


United Farm Women of Alberta, Annual Report (1917).

The answer given by local organizations to the question, "What are the chief difficulties you find in carrying on the work successfully?" was "babies". One club reports that half their membership have babies under three years old, while the secretary herself has two under that age. . . . And that brings us face to face with a problem that perplexes every conscientious, but intelligent and public-spirited mother. It is your problem and mine—namely, under what conditions are we justified in confining our attention to our homes to the exclusion of all matters of public interest . . .

Mrs. Rogers, Past president of Alberta Women's Institute, personal interview, 1974.

Well, the need was mainly isolation—a place to get together, a place where you could meet people—that had the same interests as you had. You must remember that when the Institute started, out here, the people were scattered. Many of them wouldn't see anybody for a week—or longer—and some of them just couldn't take it. That's why so many of them ended up in Ponoka [mental hospital]—just the loneliness. If they had children, it wasn't so bad, but if anybody went to town father went to town. . . . On the other hand, the Institute would never have got very far if it hadn't been for the cooperation of the men . . . We have pictures of a wagon full of women, all gathered up and being brought in—and it was no "hour meeting"—it was an afternoon. And, you brought the children . . . somebody would take them outside or in another room and entertain them. So, the youngsters liked it too. You might have a Ukrainian here. You might have a Scandinavian here. You might have an American over there-and you didn't have much in common—and the thing was to get a common ground. But of course if they had children—that was a common ground—the care and feeding of children. That was the original start of the Institute.

Reprinted by permission of Women's Press.

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