Seymour West WI 100th Anniversary

Pictured (L-R): Seymour West WI Members Marion Hay, Faye McKelvie, Phyllis McCulloch, Grace Wynn, Lois Brown, Helen Pickens, (behind: Gayle Fox, Gwen Coombes), Connie Quinn, Lucille Joss, (behind: Shirley Little), Pat Lloyd, Gerane McConnell.

On September 19, 2012, Seymour West WI celebrated its 100th Anniversary.  To mark this milestone, Members from District Branches, District President Mary Shortt, Area President Cecilia Maines, FWIO President-Elect Evelyn Peck, Trent Hills Mayor Hector Macmillan and the press were invited to the WI Hall.

President Marion Hay opened the celebration saying, “Women teach us how to find spiritual fulfilment, creative expression and deep satisfaction in life. For 100 years, Seymour West WI has helped us to do that.” 

A short program consisted of greetings from dignitaries and presentation of special 100 year pins and certificates. Classical trained singer and harpist, Angelica Ottwell, entertained with her storytelling and music. Soloist, Pauline McMillan, was accompanied by her mother-in-law, Marilynn, on piano. Faye McKelvie, a Member for 69 years, cut the Anniversary cake and Lois Brown (46 years) poured tea. The hall was decorated with balloons and live flowers inside and outside.

Seymour West WI is situated west of the Trent River that divides the town of Campbellford, Ontario.  It is located in Northumberland East District (Trent Valley Area) and has 15 Members.

Eight chartered Members organized the Branch on July 6, 1912 with Mrs. Chas. Macoun as President (1912-1924). Mrs. Macoun also served as District President (1918-1920) and went on to be Provincial Correspondent.

Membership grew to 30-40 in the first year and, at the first Anniversary at the home of Mrs. Macoun, 80 women attended.

Early minute books were destroyed in a house fire and so information of the first 30 years is sketchy. However, it is known that the Branch was very active during the war and depression years.

Early Members often travelled by horse and buggy or cutter to meetings that were held in private homes. With the closure of the rural schools in 1967, Seymour West WI Members were able to purchase the SS#4 Seymour West school for the sum of $200 from the School Board. The hall has been renovated for efficiency while keeping the blackboards and tin-test ceiling tiles intact. It has been maintained through a variety of fundraisers, including catering at Hoard’s salebarn, card parties, yard sales and as a polling station. In 1975-1976, old-fashioned Christmas concerts reminiscent of school days were presented to the public.

ABOVE: Seymour West WI Hall.

Through the years there have been many special Members. Ruby McCulloch was one past Member who served in many capacities as well as District President and Area Secretary. She was presented with the centennial medal on the occasion of Canada’s 100th Anniversary. Eileen Rutherford, a faithful Member for 76 years, also served in many positions. Although unable to take active part now, she continues to contribute whenever she can. Phyllis McCulloch, Helen Pickens and Gerane McConnell each have over 50 years of membership.

Seymour West WI was instrumental in initiating music and public health programs in rural schools and has supported local, provincial and overseas projects such as Campbellford Memorial Hospital, library, flood and fire relief, ice storm, etc.

Although smaller in number, Seymour West WI still participates and promotes the concept of Home and Country and the tenets of the Mary Stewart Collect.