Womens' missionary societies took over much of the work performed by the
early women associated with missions. For example, the Alberta Women's
Missionary Society (AWMS) of the Methodist (later United) Church was based on
the national society of the same name and established
Alberta before the turn of the century. It gradually built up its membership,
with a peak occurring in 1930 with 5,500 members. By 1924, approximately 80,000
people of Ukrainian origin had settled in northeast Alberta to the east of
Edmonton. They settled in blocks and formed their own communities in which they
retained their own language, customs and religion (a branch of the Orthodox
The AWMS turned their focus on these Ukrainian settlements, hoping to
"Christianize and Canadianize" them – essentially the objective for Aboriginal
missions. As in the older missions, women also worked to establish educational,
medical and social services in the Ukrainian settlements. They spearheaded and
worked in some of the first schools, orphanages and hospitals in the areas.
Therefore, like their foremothers, they used the opportunity of missionary work
to step outside the bounds of traditional femininity and become involved in the
- Owen, Michael. "Lighting the Pathways for New Canadians": Methodist and
United Church WMS Missions in Eastern Alberta, 1904-1940." Standing on New
Ground: Women in Alberta. Eds. Catherine Cavanaugh and Randi Warne. Edmonton:
University of Alberta Press, 1993.
- Thrift, Gayle. "'Women of Prayer are Women of Power': Women's Missionary
Societies in Alberta, 1918-1939." Alberta History 1999 47(2): 10-17.