120th Anniversary of Women's Institute movement

Two weeks ago, I was honoured to attend a celebration of the 120th anniversary of the international Women’s Institute movement, which began in my hometown of Stoney Creek.

Adelaide Hunter Hoodless, born in St. George, Ontario, was one of the most important advocates for rural women in Canadian history. She co-founded the Women’s Institute, the National Council of Women, the Victorian Order of Nurses and the YWCA in Canada.

Her infant son died in 1889 from contaminated unpasteurized milk. Blaming herself for not knowing the danger, she dedicated herself to domestic education for rural women to prevent future avoidable tragedies.

On February 19, 1897, she organized the first meeting of the Women’s Institute in Stoney Creek. The Women’s Institute was dedicated to promoting the education and personal growth of rural women.

The first Women’s Institute constitution was drafted a few days later at the home of Janet and Erland Lee on Ridge Road in Stoney Creek. Erland Lee was a great supporter and promoter of the new organization. The home that he and Janet shared is today the Erland Lee museum. It is well worth a visit to learn about the international women’s movement that was born in our province 120 years ago.

Thank you to the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario for hosting the celebration and on reaching this remarkable anniversary.

(Hansard: March 2, 2017)