For Home and Country: The Role of the Federated Women’s Institute in Rural CanadaMrs R. G. Purcell, FWIO President, presents a cheque for the Cockshutt tractor, destined for Greece, that the WI purchased with the proceeds of branches' "Pennies for Friendship" collections.
The Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada (WI) played a leading role in the development of Canada’s farm communities. In the late nineteenth century, men met regularly at Farmers’ Union and Grange meetings. This allowed them to discuss the latest developments in scientific farming and other issues. However, there was no parallel organization for rural women.
With leadership from Adelaide Hoodless, the first meeting of the WI was held in 1897 in Stoney Creek, Ontario. By 1919, branches had been established across Canada. The women of the WI:
- developed ties with Canadian agricultural colleges
- helped farm families deal with economic difficulties
- provided information about healthy farm practices
- made recommendations about farm succession and estate planning
- provided patriotic support in both World Wars
Two of the best known WI initiatives are “Pennies for Friendship” and “Well Baby.” “Pennies for Friendship” was launched in the 1930s. “Well Baby” funded portable health clinics and public school milk programmes in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.Back to top