Fonds 485 Spirit Valley Women’s Institute fonds


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1929-1964. — 18 cm of textual records.

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Agency History

The Spirit Valley Women’s Institute was organized in February, 1948, becoming a charter member of the provincial organization. Meetings were held monthly with the exception of August and September at members’ homes. The hostess supplied a raffle gift for a draw after the meeting. Lunch was made and served by two other members. In February the club celebrated anniversary month and the Christmas meeting was a potluck supper. Membership was $1 and afternoon tea was $.25. Each afternoon meeting was opened by saluting the flag and reciting the Women’s Institute creed. Roll calls were answered by presenting bazaar items, garden seeds or plant slips, and in one meeting members were asked, “How did you meet your husband?”

The first few years saw the club concentrate on sewing for the needy and sending food parcels overseas to recipients in Scotland who were suffering from food shortages after WWII. One of the club’s first and main projects was the creation of a ladies’ restroom in Spirit River which started with leasing a building from the town in 1949, for $1.00. They hired the carpenter, bought the coal and had it delivered, and took turns doing the janitor work at first. Then Mrs. Ed Porterfield was hired for $10 a month and in 1952 Mr. Nick Guslak took over the duties. In December, 1953, natural gas was installed and in 1955, a bathroom was installed with Pat O’Hara doing the plumbing. Mr. England became the new janitor, then Mrs. Marple and then Helen Johnson.

The Jan. 8, 1953, meeting at the home of Mrs. Durkin saw the following officers elected ; President, Mrs. A. Smith; Vice-President, Mrs. Ida Pocket; Secretary, Mrs. W. Mueller; Treasurer, Mrs. F. Boomgaarden; Publicity and Radio Reporter, Mrs. C. Horning; Citizenship, Mrs. A. Peacock; Agricultural, Florence Pocket; Social Welfare, Mrs. C. Hirning, Health and Education, Mrs. Nease; Scrap Book Caretaker, Mrs. G. Durkin; Rest Room Committee, Mrs. Durkin, Mrs. Mease, Mrs. Hudson, Mrs. Mueller; Hospital Visiting Committee, Mrs. Neil, Mrs. Boomgaarden. Membership at that time was 22. The group raised money in order to operate the restroom and other charitable projects through putting on dances, bazaars , bake sales, elephant sales, card parties, raffling quilts, rugs, doilies, and selling greeting cards. They donated to the Red Cross, March of Dimes, Cancer Fund, Salvation Army, Grace Children’s Home, and a scholarship fund through the Dept. of Agriculture for students entering Agricultural Schools. They made Christmas hampers for the needy, sent baby quilts and layettes to the the Unitariian Service Committee and to burned out families, and supported a diabetic camp and a victim of a machinery accident. They visited patients in the hospital with baskets of cookies and fruit and sent a fruit basket to Pleasant View Lodge each month. In 1958, the town of Spirit River purchased the restroom for $1200. The last meeting of the group was held in June, 1963, where they decided to disburse their funds by buying a baby grand piano for Pleasant View Lodge and curtains and chairs for the restroom, donating the rest to the Happy Valley Club, the Blueberry Mountain Goodwill Ladies, Spirit River Curling Club, the United Church Hall Fund, and the Spirit Valley Hall.

Custodial History

These records were donated to the South Peace Regional Archives by the Spirit River Settlement Historical Society in 2009.

Scope and Content

The fonds consists of records relating to the operation of the Spirit Valley Women’s Institute and their activities. The records include a certificate of incorporation, lease agreement, membership booklet, insurance policy, meeting records, invoices and cheque stubs, records of donations, correspondence, reports and newsletters from associated groups, records of fundraising projects, homemaking booklets, and a county fair program.

The fonds is divided into six series: History and Legal Documents, Financial, Correspondence, Associated Organizations, Handicrafts and Fundraising, and Homemaking and County Fair Booklets.


Table of Contents

Series 485.01 History & Legal Documents
Series 485.02 Financial
Series 485.03 Correspondence
Series 485.04 Associated Organizations
Series 485.05 Handicrafts and Fundraising
Series 485.06 Homemaking and County Fair Booklets


Series 485.01 History & Legal Documents. — 1948-1957.

The series consists of a certificate of incorporation (1948), a lease agreement with the Village of Spirit River (1949), a membership booklet (1949-1953), an insurance policy (1957), and a record of the beginnings of the club and a Jan 8, 1953 meeting.

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Series 485.02 Financial. — 1948-1963. — 3.5 cm of textual records.

The series consists of Royal Bank cheque stubs (1948-1963), reports and samples of invoices (1949-1962), Ladies’ Rest Room samples of invoices (1949-1962) and Ladies’ Rest Room donations (1949-1962).

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Series 485.03 Correspondence. — 1948-1963.. — 2 cm of textual records.

The series consists of correspondence within the Grande Prairie Constituency of the W.I. and letters from other groups in other areas interested in the Rest Room project.

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Series 485.04 Associated Organizations. — 1929-1964. — 11 cm of textual records.

The series consists of Alberta Women’s Institute Reports and Correspondence (1929-1964), Alberta’s Women’s Institute Newsletter “Home and Country” (1950-1964), Federated Women’s Institute Reports and Correspondence (1947-1959), Federated W. I. Newsletters, “Federated News”(1949-1957), Department of Agriculture – Extension (1949-1960), and Organizations and Supported Charities (1948-1962)

SubSeries 485.04.02 Federated Women’s Institute Reports, Correspondence and Newsletters. — 1947-1959. — 10.5 cm of textual records.

The sub-series consists of Federated Women’s Institute Reports and Correspondence (1947-1959), Federated W. I. Newsletters, “Federated News”(1949-1957).

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Series 485.05 Handicrafts and Fundraising. — 1948-1963.

The series consists of records of the group’s involvement in for W.I. handicrafts competitions and purchase of materials from Eatons and Sears for making articles for charities and fundraisers, as well as records of card sales, bake sales, whist drives, and advertisers offering fundraising through sales of the Western Producer or collecting Salada symbols. It also includes records of an order of dresses from the Disabled Civilians’ Workshop in Moose Jaw, Sask.

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Series 485.06 Homemaking and County Fair Booklets. — 1950 c.-1960.

The series consists of three booklets: “Smart Sewing with Cotton Bags”, “The Best in the Cupboard”, and “1960 Grande Prairie County Agricultural Society Fair” booklet.

Smart Sewing with Cotton Bags, 1950 c.
“Smart Sewing with Cotton Bags” shows how to use cotton bags (used in packaging flour and sugar for example) for sewing projects especially connected to Simpicity patterns.
Location: 485.06.01
The Best in the Cupboard, 1954
“The Best in the Cupboard” contains hints from homemakers across Canada submitted as a result of a radio program “The Man Around the House” sponsored by Canada Packers.
Location: 485.06.02
Grande Prairie County Agricultural Society Fair Booklet, 1960
Grande Prairie County Agricultural Society Fair Booklet contains a list of officers, directors and convenors for the fair, rules of the exhibition, lists of exhibition classes ranging from farm animals to vegetables and flowers to handicarafts and school work along with first, second and third prize moneys offered.
Location: 485.06.03
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