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Women’s Institutes celebrate 127 years of caring for home, family, community

February 8, 2024   ·   0 Comments

In February 2024, the Women’s Institute celebrates its 127th anniversary. Could Adelaide Hoodless have imagined that when she addressed the wives of the Farmer’s Institute members in Stoney Creek, in 1897, it would be the start of an organization that continues to be vibrant and active more than a century later? A week later, on Feb. 19, 1897, the first WI meeting was held with 101 ladies and one man, Erland Lee, present. WI branches quickly spread throughout Ontario, Canada, and Commonwealth countries.

A tragic event in Adelaide Hoodless’ life took place in August 1889, when her 14-month-old son died from what was thought to be the ingestion of unpasteurized milk. This devastating incident was a turning point for Hoodless, putting her on the path to educate other women; promoting domestic science and household management. She was an advocate for furthering education in women.

Women’s Institutes identify Feb. 19 as Women’s Institute Day, aligning with its very first meeting.

Now 127 years later, there are more than 432 branches of the WI, with approximately 6,000 members across Canada that use education and support programs and services to change their communities. WI’s original focus has expanded to include personal growth opportunities, government lobbying, and health and community wellness projects. 

Women’s Institutes have spread worldwide. In the British Isles, the Women’s Institute is the largest women’s volunteer organization, creating its first branch in Wales in 1915. Even the late Queen Elizabeth II was the President of her local WI branch.

Locally, The Tec We Gwill Women’s Institute (TWG WI) branch supports local food banks, shelters, community gardens, and special community projects within Bradford West Gwillimbury and New Tecumseth. Members are passionate about supporting family, women, and their community through fundraising activities like plays, concerts, community lunches and dinners, and inexpensive education workshops on life skills. When something in the community needs to be rectified, members are willing to lobby for change.

Many health and wellness and environmental regulations and liberties the public enjoys today are because the WI lobbied for change, including pasteurization of milk, painted lines on roads, bagged bread, birth certificates for all babies, health and safety inspections of food premises, using funds from alcohol taxes for rehabilitation programmes for those with substance abuse, and breathalyzer tests to name just a few.

Women who are 18 or older and want to be involved in supporting their community while building friendships are encouraged to attend a Women’s Institute meeting. 

For information on Tec We Gwill, visit

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