Erland Lee (Museum) Home
Birthplace of the Women's Institute
In 1972, the Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario (FWIO) purchased the Lee family home. FWIO wanted to preserve the vintage home as a memorial to the birthplace of the Women's Institutes (WI), and feature the vanished, middle-class, rural Victorian lifestyle. It opened as the Erland Lee Museum the same year, with the exterior and the 1873 additions restored to their 1897 beauty.
The white board and batten house is an example of Gothic Architecture and exhibits household artifacts and furniture circa 1790 to 1930. Many of the artifacts are original to the six generations of the Lee family who lived in the home between 1808 and 1971.
The Carriage (Drive) House, also an original 1873 building, features displays of farm-related implements and tools, exhibits on Stoney Creek history, including donated family artifacts from the community, and other special exhibits throughout the year. The museum boasts a quilt collection, with a mix of traditional and modern patterns and techniques, many quilted by members of the Women's Institutes. The highlight of the quilt collection, and a piece of Canadiana, is the 1875 Margaret Sheriff Quilt.
The Lee Family
James & Hannah (Corman) Lee came to Upper Canada and settled in Saltfleet Township (present-day Stoney Creek) as United Empire Loyalists in 1792. They were the first generation of Lees to live at Edgemount, now the Erland Lee (Museum) Home, built by their son and daughter-in-law, John & Mary (Moore) Lee, in 1808. Through the generations, the Lee family added to their 1808 log cabin home and built it into the stunning example of Carpenter Gothic Revival architecture it is today.
Birthplace of the Women's Institute
In February 1897, Erland Lee (great-grandson of James & Hannah Lee) and his wife, Janet (Chisholm) Lee, invited Adelaide Hunter Hoodless to speak at a Lady’s Night meeting of the Farmer’s Institute. Afterwards, a group of women (and a few husbands) gathered in Janet & Erland’s dining room to found the Women’s Institutes. Janet Lee penned the constitution and Christina (Armstrong) Smith served as the first president.
From Family Home to Museum
In 1972, the Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario (FWIO) opened the Erland Lee (Museum) Home to the public after purchasing the home directly from the Lee family. The FWIO wanted to preserve the home and its grounds as a memorial to the birthplace of the Women's Institutes (WI) and to feature the rural, upper-middle-class Victorian lifestyle of the Lees. The FWIO worked tirelessly to restore the exterior and the 1873 addition to their 1897 beauty, with the 1860 addition serving as living space for the Museum's live-in hostess & her family. Now, the FWIO operates its provincial office out of this 1860 southern addition.
The white board-and-batten home contains artifacts and furniture c.1790- 1930. Many of the artifacts are original to the six generations of the Lee family who lived in the home between 1808 and 1971.
One of the three original Lee building on the once 100-acre farm is the 1930 chicken coop. This building has housed chickens and even a farm labourer, and now serves as garden storage. The chicken coop was carefully renovated in 2017 thanks to the generous donation of Hollie & Marlene Archer.
The c.1873 Carriage House, once called the Drive Shed, is the third & final of the three original buildings on the property. It features displays on farming, Stoney Creek history, assorted artifacts donated from the community, and other special exhibits. The museum also boasts a stunning quilt collection, with a mix of traditional and modern patterns and techniques, many quilted by members of the Women's Institutes for various milestones and fundraisers. The highlight of the quilt collection, and a piece of true Canadiana, is the 1875 Margaret Sheriff Quilt.
Every donation made to the Erland Lee (Museum) Home is greatly appreciated. Donations can be made in the following ways:
- Online through Canada Helps
- By cheque to the FWIO Provincial Office/Erland Lee (Museum) Home: payable to "Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario" with "Lee Heritage Preservation & Maintenance Fund" written on the memo line.
Supporting the Museum Gift Shop
Women’s Institute (WI) Areas take turns each year in supplying items suitable for sale in the Gift Shop. If an Area is unable to donate items, they can make a monetary contribution and the Gift Shop will purchase items for sale. However, anyone at any time is welcome to donate!
Here is a small list of the items that sell well:
Bird figurines, bone china tea cups and saucers, bib aprons, knitted dishcloths, hand towel sets, hand crafted baby outfits (6 months or larger), good quality handmade items, and good used books. We can not accept preserves or canning of any kind.
We thank everyone for their support of the Museum through their donations to our Gift Shop!
WI Rotation List
2020 - Trent Valley & Kingston Areas
2021 - Southern Area
2022 - Eastern Area
Interested in volunteering? Click here to fill out our volunteer application form!
Erland Lee Museum Featured in Maclean's Magazine
The Erland Lee Museum was honoured to be featured in the Remembrance issue of Maclean's Magazine. Alyssa Gomori, Museum Curator, gave an interview where she shared information on Gordon D'Arcy Lee, the oldest son of Erland and Janet Lee, who lost his life in France during World War I. Alyssa also shared a photo of Gordon and a touching letter he sent to his mother shortly before his death. You can view the article online.
The Erland Lee Museum Remembers Gordon D’Arcy Lee on the Centennial Anniversary of his Death
May 3rd marked one century since Janet and Erland Lee’s eldest son, Gordon D’Arcy Lee, lost his life in the First World War. Born May 13, 1894, he was just ten days shy of his 23rd birthday when he met his tragic fate.
Gordon grew up at Edgemont Farm, where he developed a lifelong ambition of becoming a farmer like his father and generations of Lees before him.
Gordon began a military career at the age of 16, when he joined the 77th Wentworth Regiment.
In 1912, at age 18, he began a course of study at the Ontario Agricultural College, which is now part of the University of Guelph.
He abandoned his studies after his second year to do his part for his country in the First World War. He was given commendation as a Captain in the 84th Battalion after completing a training course in Niagara.
Gordon left for England in June of 1916. By Fall of that same year, he served at the Somme, which saw the deaths of his cousin, Harry Erland Lee and his brother-in-law to-be, Thomas Crosthwaite.
Gordon himself was injured at the Somme, and he returned home to convalesce over Christmas. He returned to the Front in February of 1917, where preparations were underway for the battle at Vimy Ridge, one of the last German strongholds. Over Easter weekend, April 8 and 9, 1917, this battle took place as part of the larger Battle of Arras. Gordon led his company of men an advance of 1000 yards to contribute to the success of Vimy for the Canadians.
Tragically, less than a month later, and during a routine operation, Gordon was shot and killed by a sniper in the early hours of May 3, 1917. He is buried near the town of Lens, France, near the men who fell with him that day.
Pictured above is Gordon in uniform, undated, but likely 1916. At right is his grave right after his burial. He is listed as having the rank of Captain, but he was posthumously awarded the rank of Acting Major, and his grave lists the correct rank today.
$17,000 Trillium Grant Given to the Erland Lee (Museum) Home
On Sunday, December 11, 2016, The Erland Lee (Museum) Home welcomed members of the public to its Annual Carol Sing and for the official recognition of the Ontario Trillium Grant (OTF) received by the Museum earlier this year. Livia Martin, Niagara Grant Review Team Chair was on hand to congratulate the Erland Lee Museum Committee and to hear more about the uses of this grant. Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara-Glanbrook was unable to attend but sent a scroll and greetings.
In his letter to the Erland Lee (Museum) Home, MPP Sam Oosterhoff noted “that the preservation of historical documents and pictures is vitally important to our culture and future generations as a snapshot of our cultural, social and economic heritage”.
In her role as Chair of the OTF Niagara Grant Review Team, Livia Martin noted the many contributions to the Museum that this grant has provided to help make communities healthier and more vibrant.
“The impact of this Capital Grant cannot be stressed enough” said Barbara Weese, Chair of the Erland Lee Museum Committee. Some of the items that this grant made possible were signage on the Queen Elizabeth Way as well as portable signage at the Museum. This latter signage can be customized to fit the occasion – a welcome sign and an events schedule just to name 2 examples. As well as a new computer for the Curator, Alyssa Gomori, a specialized program has been purchased to allow for the tracking of all aspects of the collection. Of special note was the acquisition of specialized archival storage equipment. This allows for the handling of pictures, letters, etc. by researchers without worry of damaging them. In the future, people wishing to donate pictures and letters depicting the history of the Lee family and/or the members of the first Stoney Creek Women’s Institute can do so with confidence that they will be preserved in a safe manner.
The Erland Lee (Museum) Home is owned and operated by the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario. Janet and Erland Lee, inspired by Adelaide Hoodless, founded the Stoney Creek Branch in 1897. From Stoney Creek the movement quickly spread across Canada and in 1915 to the British Isles. It all began in Stoney Creek. The House itself has been designated as a Historic site both provincially and federally. Details of the many activities at the Museum will be available early in 2017, please visit the website www.fwio.on.ca/erland
The leading grant making foundation in Canada, the Ontario Trillium Foundation strengthens the capacity of the voluntary sector through investments in community-based initiatives. An agency of the Government of Ontario, OTF builds healthy and vibrant communities: www.otf.ca
FWIO and Erland Lee Museum Receive Community Recognition Award
The Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario (FWIO) and the Erland Lee (Museum) Home had the honour of receiving the Stoney Creek Chamber of Commerce "Community Recognition Award" at the Citizen of the Year Awards on May 21, 2015.
Thank you to the Chamber of Commerce and its President, Lori Raudnask for recognizing FWIO and the Erland Lee (Museum) Home and to Bennie Esposto CPA, Professional Corporation for sponsoring the Community Recognition Award.
Congratulations to the five other individuals and businesses that were recognized for their outstanding contributions to the community.
In April, the Chamber of Commerce and Moetion Picture visited the Museum to capture a glimpse into the history of the Women's Institute and Lee Home. These special video presentations introduced each recipient at the awards reception and can be viewed on YouTube.
FWIO President, Margaret Byl recently sat down with the Stoney Creek News to discuss this honour, as well as the Museum's long history. Read more...
Erland Lee (Museum) Home Receives Generous Donation
Stoney Creek, ON – On Sunday, February 22, 2015, the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario (FWIO) celebrated the 118th Anniversary of the WI with an Anniversary Tea and Open House at the Erland Lee (Museum) Home.
FWIO was pleased to welcome Hamilton East – Stoney Creek MPP, Paul Miller; Lori Raudnask of the Stoney Creek Chamber of Commerce; former Stoney Creek Mayor, Anne Bain; Kate Belair from the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada; and members of the Lee family.
Also in attendance were members of the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI), Golden Horseshoe Chapter. HRAI has been working with the Erland Lee (Museum) Home for the past two years to address its outdated HVAC systems in both the Museum and adjacent Carriage House, which is used for public workshops and activities.
To the delight and surprise of those at the celebration, FWIO President, Margaret Byl accepted a cheque for $10,000 from Ron Robinson on behalf of HRAI, Golden Horseshoe Chapter as part of a project which will see the HVAC systems upgraded. HRAI’s incredible generosity and support will result in reduced utility costs at the Erland Lee (Museum) Home, which now accommodates the FWIO Provincial Office.
FWIO Celebrates Re-opening of the Lee
On Sunday, April 21, 2013, the Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario celebrated the grand re-opening of the Erland Lee (Museum) Home in Stoney Creek with nearly 200 hundred attending, including descendants of the Lee family. Many thanks go out to all who worked tirelessly and also to MP Dean Allison, Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina, and Councillor Brenda Johnson for their kind words and continued support. Evelyn Peck, President of the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario, had the honour of cutting the ribbon. The ‘Lee’ will be open Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12pm-4pm.
Please note that the museum is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Visitors are welcome to enjoy the gardens and grounds at their leisure.
Seniors (65+) and WI Members $6
Children (12 and under) $4
Family Rate (2 adults and 2 children) $20
Group Rate (15 or more, pre-booked) $5 per person (plus HST)