A Brief History

Women from all walks of life, including Premier Rachel Notley (center front) posed for a photo on the steps of Alberta Legislature to mark the centennial of equal voting. A similar photo, taken in 1916 marked passage of women’s right to vote.
photo credit Ian Kucerak

The first Women’s Institute was organized under the leadership of Mrs. Adelaide Hoodless in Saltfleet Township, Wentworth County, Ontario on February 19, 1897.  This meeting was a historical event, resulting in the birth of this organization of Country Women which is now the largest in the world.  The original Branch is now known as the Stoney Creek Women’s Institute.

The expressed desire of the group was to acquire and spread information, which would assist in greater efficiency on the part of rural women within the varied responsibilities resting upon them in their homes and as citizens.

The first Branch in Alberta was formed at Lea Park in 1909.  Before 1915 Alberta Women’s Institutes was looked after by a Superintendent appointed by the Department of Agriculture.  The first Provincial Convention was held in Olds, Alberta, on February 17 & 18, 1915 where Mrs. Isobel Noble was elected the first Provincial President.

The provincial government felt this organization was important enough to give Alberta Women’s Institutes their own act.  Bill No. 15 of 1916 brought into being the Women’s Institute Act.  This Act has been revised over the years but is still in force today.

Today (2020) we no longer have the scrutiny of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, but we still fall under their mandate. From time to time we apply for provincial grants through them.

As the Women’s Institute network expanded in Canada, it was felt more could be accomplished by having a National Federation.   In February 1919 representatives from each of the provinces met in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  At this meeting they formed a national organization, the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada, now also known as WI Canada.  Approval for the formation of this National Organization was given by the Honorable T. A. Crear, Federal Minister of Agriculture.

The purpose and objectives of this National Organization are to co-ordinate programs and provide a medium of inter-communication between the provincial Women’s Institutes organizations. 

The national office was first set up in Ottawa in October 1958.  In September 2003, The Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada office was moved to the Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Homestead at St. George, Ontario.

Women’s Institute was organized in England by Mrs. Alfred Watt who had moved to England from British Columbia, Canada in 1913.  In 1914 the first Women’s Institutes in England and Wales was organized on the Island of Anglesey.  One of the most important Institutes organized was at Sandringham, where Her Majesty Queen Mary was the first President.  Women’s Institute was lovingly called “Canada’s Gift to the Motherland”.

Mrs. Alfred Watt did not stop after organizing Women’s Institutes in England and Wales. Supported and encouraged by Judge Emily Murphy, who was the first President of the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada, the work began to form an international group.  It was not until 1930 at an international meeting of women in Vienna that Mrs. Alfred Watt was able to make progress.  The Associated Country Women of the World was formed in 1933 at Stockholm, Sweden with Mrs. Alfred Watt as its first President.

Strong Women! Strong World!

Alberta Women’s Institutes is an educational organization which is strictly non-partisan and non-sectarian for women working together with the motto

“For Home and Country”

Our interests include:

Agriculture                             Environmental Issues

Family Values                           Family Violence

Health Issues and Concerns

Recycling      Handicrafts

Creative Writing

Fun and Fellowship

Argyle at Echo Glen
The annual greenhouse tour to get our bedding plants. Argyle WI
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