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Womens Institute celebrates milestone

MINTO - Antique dresses, a film of pictures dating back to 1927, old china, and stories from bygone years all added to the celebration recently for the 85th anniversary of the Little Ireland Women’s Institute in Harriston.

President Maxine Heise opened the meeting with O Canada followed in the usual manner by the Ode and Collect. 

Willa Wick read a history of the Little Ireland Institute since its beginning in November 1927. Thirty-one women attended the first meeting at the home of Mrs. Harry Aitchison, who remained a member till her death in the 1970s.

Following that meeting, members worked for the betterment of their own farm families as well as the neighborhood. Bake and quilting sales raised money, which, in turn, provided income for community projects and sponsoring fall fair prizes.

During the war years members provided constant letters, comfort goods, and non-perishable food sent to the soldiers overseas.

For 45 years, members also ran one of the food booths at the Harriston Fall Fair.

Every five-year milestone was celebrated with a banquet, cake and special program.

This year was no exception. 

Guests included Susan Dunlop, curator of the Wellington County Museum and Archives, who together with assistant curator Amy Dunlop, narrated a film explaining how the work of the Wellington County Women’s Institutes was instrumental in the formation of the Museum and Archives.

On display was the 1878 avocado green silk wedding gown as worn by the grandmother of Marion Bracken. 

Bracken, in her mid 90s and a member since 1972, is still a very active member and read a poem she penned in honor of the 85th anniversary.

Also in attendance was another 90 something, still active, Mildred Noble, who has been with the institute since the early 1940s.

Marilyn Damen read a biography of her grandmother Grace Clyne who also had long term service with the women’s club.

Also on display was a black bonnet as seen in several of the old pictures worn by Mrs. William Crispin. The hat was modeled by her granddaughter Marilyn Coupal. Sharon Weber showed another Crispin heirloom – a white lace two-piece wedding dress worn by her great-grandmother in the early 1870s. That outfit also came with a set of bloomers.

Laverne and Gloria Stinson of the Harriston area sang several songs.

Following the official program the members enjoyed tea and anniversary cake while they reminisced and looked through the pages of various Tweedsmuir history scrapbooks.



December 9, 2011


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