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Women's Institutes

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


The Women's Institute in Carmangay met twice a month. During the war they did work for the Red Cross, of course. They had gotten the Women's Institute started just about that time. In the little town, the women would come in from the country with a horse and a buggy. They'd come with their husbands. He might do his business and then go to the bar. Well, the women with the children had no place to go: no place to change their babies, warm their bottles, nurse them, and so on. So, the Women's Institute decided that they were going to do something about this. They first rented and then bought a little old building and fixed it up. They put in a stove and utensils so there would be places for the ladies to make a cup of tea or to warm something for the children to eat. There would be somewhere for the children to go to the toilet.

It became the place where the country women could go and visit. They needed conversation with the town women. It became the centre of the women. The Women's Institute knew that the women in the country needed to learn how to cook and manage and that they also needed to know a bit of home nursing. There was a doctor in Carmangay, but to travel in a horse and buggy for a long way to take your child to a doctor wasn't instant service. So the Women's Institute together with the agriculture department of the government sent out a lady from Ontario. She had a car equipped to show women how to cook; she gave recipes and directions for canning and so on. The car would stop in town for a whole day. The children and parents could inspect the display and get ideas. Then she helped form women's groups so that they could look after themselves in their own communities. That's how the Women's Institutes started in many other places. It filled such a great need. The women needed something. A woman can't live to herself.

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††††††††††† For more on women and the vote in Canada, visit Peelís Prairie Provinces.
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