Women’s Institute Celebrates 124 Years

Feb 19, 2021

February 19th, 1897. The weather was cold and the snow piled high on the Niagara escarpment. Women from across the community made their way through the hilly rural landscape to their meeting place for the evening – Squires Hall.

Over 100 women piled into the hall to hear the inspirational words of Adelaide Hunter Hoodless; words that would spark a movement and spread across the globe.

mage: Miss Quest, Mrs. D. A. Gallagher, Mrs. Baxter, Miss Chapman, Mr. Erland Lee, Mrs. E. D. (Christina) Smith, Mrs. Erland (Jante) Lee at the 25th anniversary of the WI at Battlefield, Stoney Creek
Image: Miss Quest, Mrs. D. A. Gallagher, Mrs. Baxter, Miss Chapman, Mr. Erland Lee, Mrs. E. D. (Christina) Smith, Mrs. Erland (Jante) Lee at the 25th anniversary of the WI at Battlefield, Stoney Creek

Thanks to the efforts of Janet & Erland Lee of Edgemont farm, women across Saltfleet Township (modern-day Stoney Creek) heard Adelaide’s message of education, empowerment and support among women. So inspired by her words, a group of women and a few of their husbands gathered in the Lee family dining room to turn their inspiration to action. Janet (Chisholm) Lee penned the first constitution of the Women’s Institutes, the newly founded organization for rural women sanctioned and supported by the Farmers’ Institute and all levels of government. Christina (Armstrong) Smith served as the group’s first president.

Today, the Women’s Institute has spread around the world. Over nine-million women in over 70 countries serve their communities as proud members of this historic organization. The Erland Lee Museum stands as a reminder and as a celebration of the Lee family’s vital contributions to what is known across the world as the Women’s Institute.

Happy WI Day! Please join us in celebrating another momentous anniversary by sharing a cup of tea and some goodies with the #ExtraordinaryWomen in your life, whether within your household, over the phone, or through video communications.

For Home & Country.