Mrs. Adelaide Hoodless, founder of the very first Women’s Institute. (submitted) Mrs. Adelaide Hoodless, founder of the very first Women’s Institute. Hoodless lost her young son at 14 months old, which gave rise to her mission to organize and educate women and mothers around the world about food safety, ensuring every woman was trained in home care and domestic science. File photo.

Watch Lake and District Women’s Institute celebrates 80th anniversary

‘It was well-attended and everybody was quite happy’

About 50 people came out to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Watch Lake and District Women’s Institute on Saturday, Sept. 14 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Local Women’s Institute president Ruth Kachur was overwhelmed with the positive response for the event, which was held in Watch Lake’s Community Hall.

“It was well-attended and everybody was quite happy with the decorations and the food of course. It was a come and go type of [event].”

“The Women’s Institute in Watch Lake has been going continuously since 1939 and so we decided to put on an 80th celebration,” explained Kachur. “There are only four active members at the present time; that includes me.”

The four existing members— Kachur, Karin Forbes, Helen Eagle, and Joni Guenther— managed to organize the event amongst themselves, but Kachur said the group is always seeking more members to join them.

“Some of our ladies are up in their 90s,” she advised.

Related: Watch Lake & District Women’s Institute looking for members

“We’re supposed to operate with a minimum of five,” she said. One of their members recently suffered a broken ankle and another is moving away. “We do need more members, but we can function with four.”

Kachur explained that for simplicity, the group refers to itself as WI. The local WI meets on the third Wednesday of each month at 11:30 a.m. at the Watch Lake Community Hall.

The anniversary celebration saw two members from Kersley attend, two members from Springhouse (Williams Lake), eight members from Kamloops, and three or four members from the North Thompson district, which encompasses Clearwater. Previous WI members attended as well as volunteers who have helped out with the WI over the years.

“We’re basically an educational organization and we fall under the umbrella of the department of agriculture. We sponsor the Clinton 4-H club, we have branches, districts, we have a provincial [WI], Canadian, and worldwide.”

In 1960, the government asked B.C. Women’s Institutes to make recommendations on how to make the highways safer, resulting in their recommendation of the yellow painted lines visible on B.C. Highways today.

Read more: Women’s Institute upholding family values and activism

B.C. WIs also established the Queen Alexandra Solarium in 1927, now known as the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health. They have continued to support it since, with donations of money, garments and gifts for the children. They have also participated in the founding and ongoing needs of the British Columbia Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.

Once a year, the WI has a convention that serves as a district business meeting, Kachur explained.

“Each of the branches comes to the convention to discuss issues that concern [them]. Right now, one of the big issues is the lack of Greyhound transportation in the Cariboo. So we were trying to draft something up to get bus service.”

The WI can and has made huge achievements in the past by getting involved with issues such as this one, working to write resolutions, and lobbying for real results.

“We women must work and study together to raise our homes to the highest possible level,” Kachur explained, referencing the Women’s Institute guide.

The Watch Lake and District Women’s Institute is open to all women and will meet next on Oct. 16.

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