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The Famous Five: Heroes for Today
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Creating Communities

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Reading: On Children

Reading: Women's Institutes


Alberta Women's InstitutesDespite their isolation, most women were united through their shared struggles and concerns for their families' well-being. As more settlers arrived on the prairies and roads were constructed or improved, women found it easier to get together to talk about their experiences. The first farmwomen's groups were informal gatherings among churchgoers. Gradually, the Canadian Women's Institutes and Women's Canadian Club set up branches in various rural and urban communities, and grassroots women's clubs sprang up in others. These clubs served primarily as places where women could converse, borrow books, or leave their children while they went shopping. Classes were held and magazines distributed to create an environment where women could exchange knowledge and learn new methods to bake bread, treat ailments, and perform many other household tasks. Several women, including each of the Famous 5, took active roles in organizing and running these groups.

Women's Institute groupThrough these local gatherings, rural women created bonds that held their communities together. Their husbands also developed community ties through their involvement in fraternities such as the Knights of Columbus and local literary and athletic clubs. In succeeding years, farmers' associations including the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) set up local branches that involved both men and women. In 1916, female UFA members formed their own affiliated organization, the United Farm Women of Alberta (UFWA). These associations took on increasingly political roles, as did women's suffrage and temperance societies, but they also served to bring community members together.

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