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Tec We Gwill celebrates 123rd Anniversary of Women’s Institute

February 7, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Wendy Gabrek

The Tec We Gwill Women’s Institute – with members from Bradford West Gwillimbury and New Tecumseth – is celebrating the 123rd Anniversary of the global movement known as the Associated Country Women of the World.

The occasion will be celebrated with a year-long series events and workshops, aimed at growing the local Women’s Institute (WI), and ensuring its succession into the future.

From the first meeting in February 19, 1897, Women’s Institute members have worked to come together for the sake of “family, home, community and country”, educating women in the art of homemaking and childcare. Today, Women’s Institutes have become a uniquely Canadian contribution, expanding adult education to anything and everything that affects the family, and has over nine million members in over 80 countries throughout the world.

Locally, the Tec We Gwill Women’s Institute (Tec We Gwill WI) is 73 years old, and was founded in 1949 by five members through the Junior Farmers. Members came from both Tecumseth and West Gwillimbury Townships, wanting to “get together, meet and learn something useful.” It has continued to grow with a vibrant group of ladies.

Initially, education was provided through the Ministry of Agriculture but today, the branch arranges for guest speakers, workshop presenters and prepares programs that are relevant for today’s world.

The name “Tec We Gwill” was the result of a contest held by the Junior Farmers and their “new brides” who met downstairs at the Orange Lodge, now known as the Tec We Gwill Women’s Institute Hall, in Newton Robinson, while they met upstairs.

As the story goes, the winner of the naming contest was Ralph Houghton, but he always claimed he never received his $2 prize.

“At the 50th Anniversary of Tec We Gwill WI, held at Simcoe Manor, amongst dignitaries from both New Tecumseth and Bradford West Gwillimbury, there was a dinner, skit and presentations, including a framed two dollar bill mounted on the WI tartan presented to the family of Ralph Houghton,” said Michelle Rich, Public Relations Coordinator for the Tec We Gwill Women’s Institute. “He finally received his prize!”

The original members of Tec We Gwill WI included Marguerite Ramsay, Gladys (Houghton) Bell, Ruth (Noble) Milligan, Emlyn Westlake, Ella Langford, with the last original member, Ruth, passing away in 2019.

Today, the branch provides a variety of educational workshops and guest speakers at monthly meetings to meet the vision and goal of the Federated Women’s Institutes of increasing awareness and expanding the skill sets of both WI Members and people in their communities through participation in “ROSE Sessions” – or “Reaching Ontario Sharing Education”.

Tec We Gwill WI members also locally advocate for action within the community such as dusk to dawn street lights at the 9th and 11th Lines and Highway 27, provincially, federally as well as globally as a member society of the ACWW, continuing to expand the Community Garden in New Tecumseth and providing education on proper canning and preserving techniques, and spearheading speakers on topical issues ranging from human trafficking to immigration to Swedish weaving to glass painting.

Tec We Gwill Institute meetings are held on the fourth Monday of every month excluding December, January and August, and begin at 11:30 a.m. including a self-provided bagged lunch and dessert supplied by the assigned committees, followed by a business meeting. 

The meetings are held at the Tec We Gwill Women’s Institute (Newton Robinson) Hall, 4380, 10th Line, Bradford West Gwillimbury unless otherwise noted. The building is wheelchair accessible. ROSE programmes are scheduled from 1–2:30 p.m.

Membership in Women’s Institute is limited to women 18 and older.

For membership inquiries, or to attend a meeting and to understand how the Women’s Institute supports women in the community, contact or Diana, call 705 435-6427.

Tec We Gwill Women’s Institute is a branch of the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario (FWIO), and is a not-for-profit charitable organization with affiliations around the world, working with and for women in Ontario. Through the network of Branches, FWIO offers educational programming and community support; advocates for social, environmental and economic change, and works towards the personal growth of all women, for home and country. 

“We envision an Ontario where women work together for safe, healthy communities and pursue an enriched and balanced lifestyle,” Rich told The Times.

To celebrate their anniversary, the following Tec We Gwill Women’s Institute workshops have been confirmed for 2020:

• Pottery: Feb. 11, 25/Mar. 10

• Maple Syrup Tour: Mar. 21

• Quilting a Table Runner: Mar. 24

• Time Saving Meal: Apr. 14

• Board Painting: Apr. & May

• Hypertufa Pots: May 2

• Soap & Cream Making: June

• Casa Loma: July – St. Lawrence Market, Toronto Tour, Escape Room, $75/person with bus

• Wine Tasting: August

• Herbs – Oils/Vinegars: September 22

• Preserving & Canning with Emerie: August 18

• Cranberry Bogs Tour: Hamilton Tours, Sept.

• Author Night: Oct. 27

• Indian Spices Cooking: Nov.

• Card Making: Nov.

Scheduled events for 2020:

• Music Night: June 27

• Spring Talent Show: April 4

• Fall Talent Show: Nov. 21

• Artisan Fair: Nov. 14

• Christmas Meeting: Dec. 12

• New Tec Home Show: Mar 19-21

For more information about the Tec We Gwill Women’s Institute, contact Michelle Rich, Public Relations Coordinator by calling 416 573-3495 or through email to For additional updates, the WI is also on Facebook.

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