President's Message

October 2021

I love fall because it reminds me that change can be beautiful.

This past year has certainly been one of change and for many it may not have been so beautiful, but I hope that it will be looked back on as generating positive outcomes for our future.

I want to commend the Area Executive for making the extra effort to connect to the membership. This is a change and I know I am not the only one who wishes we could all get together physically and have wonderful conversations, sharing memories and plans for the future. But we must remain positive in spirit and keep each other in our hearts and minds. We are stronger together.

Mary Shortt, FWIO President 2019-present
Mary Shortt, FWIO President 2019-present

Thank you to the Regional Board Directors for their continued work by representing the interests of the membership in each Region, attending our monthly Board meetings, serving on standard committees, ad hoc committees and taking the lead on specific projects.

Our Administrative Manager, Andrea; Office Assistant, Kate; and Museum Curator, Mara are available to assist and answer questions. These women are the team that has held this organization together throughout the pandemic and deserve your gratitude and support. They always act in the best interest of Women’s Institute and the members. I hope that the E-Blast is reaching everyone, as this is the best way to keep members updated and please share with members who don’t have access. We have just launched our new website. Please take the time to review it and please be patient as it will be working through some adjustments over the next month as users find the ‘kinks’.

A quick review of our Strategic Plan Goals: 2020-2023

  • Membership building
  • Financial stability
  • Streamlining Organizational structure
  • Advance Advocacy
  • Increase Community Involvement – Community is the sole of WI
  • Sustainability of the Erland Lee Museum

The Coordinators are elected positions and have voting power at the Provincial AGM for electing the new Board and officers.

This is another way to be involved and be part of the future of WI.

Vacancies are Advocacy, Digitizing, FWIC Representative, Membership, and Tweedsmuir.

Advocacy has been reinstated from being a Committee of the Board. It has been chaired by Valerie Smith, Board Director with several members at large on the committee. This is an opportunity to participate on behalf of women, children, families, and our communities.

Digitization was vacant last year but, more importantly, without Volunteers like Linda Mitchell from Prince Edward County and two other non-members many of the already digitized Branch Histories will never be available for public view. Has your Branch History been digitized? Is it on ‘Our Digital Archives”? It is important that the members help and what needs to be done can be done from your home. By sharing our histories, we continue to have an impact on the future.

FWIC Representative has been reinstated from being the responsibility of the FWIO President. It requires previous experience at the Provincial level and is an opportunity to engage with representatives across the country.

Membership Coordinator: Sue Cushing is finishing her 3-year term. The monthly Zoom gatherings have helped tremendously, and the Newsletter brought encouragement and ideas on building our membership.

This position is a wonderful opportunity to be engaged with members around the province.

Tweedsmuir Coordinator has been vacant for the past 3 years. Is keeping the current history no longer necessary? Perhaps there is a way to develop a digital means of achieving the same thing.

SAVE THE DATE! We will be holding a Candidates night on November 18th at 6:30 pm via Zoom – of course. This will give AVD’s and members an opportunity to get to know the candidates and discuss with their Area members on the choice that is best for WI before the ballot takes place at the AGM in December. Details to follow.

Membership is our highest priority. Membership is our main source of income and as the numbers continue to drop the greatest effort ever is being made to appeal to new members. This means understanding who might be interested in joining an organization that was established 125 years ago and what we could offer that would encourage participation.

Lead by Marg Ogar, Board Director and FWIO Treasurer, we have hired Rick Mauro & Brenda Sweeney of RM Marketing for professional marketing and membership growth assistance. They will be investigating and assessing our organization to give professional advice on how best to go into the future.

The Erland Lee (Museum) Home has reopened with restrictions and during the pandemic the grounds have been open with outdoor tours and brochures prepared by Mara. Hania & Peter White have donated a salaried professional person to help with the gardens and Barb Stones, Hamilton Area Board Director has been ever vigilant deadheading and watering as needed every week. Just two examples of how the Museum is supported by members near and far.

The Erland Lee Museum Committee, chaired by Michelle Phillippi, President-Elect has continued to meet and discuss ways to promote and sustain the Museum. But make no mistake, this National Historic Museum will always need support from the members to remain part of WI. Without sufficient, continued support the property would have to be sold and the reminder of WI’s impact on the world today would be lost.

Mara, our Museum Curator has created many on-line lectures and tours, participated in numerous virtual events with other museums and local municipality and found useful grants and covid support to also sustain the Museum.

Now let’s look forward.

Next year will be the 125th anniversary of the beginning of WI and 50 years since the Lee home was purchased and became the Erland Lee (Museum) Home. Hopefully we will be able to celebrate in all our communities and use this milestone to remind your neighbours that WI is alive and well and a wonderful organization to belong to.

In celebration of WI’s 125th Anniversary in 2022, FWIO would like to invite all WI Branches to participate in two (2) Province-Wide, Year-Long Events.


1. Home and Country Rose Quilt Challenges

With permission from Marilyn Edmonds of Brighton, we will be using the Home and Country Rose Quilt pattern she designed in 2005. There are three different quilt challenges.

The first 2 challenges will be judged by a Certified Quilt Judge on February 19, 2022.

Challenge 1 – Quilt Block Challenge

Challenge 2 – Creative Quilting Challenge

Challenge 3 – Area Quilt Fundraiser

Quilt blocks received for Challenge 1 will be redistributed to up to 5 Areas to create quilts to be used as a fundraiser for the participating Area as a 50/50 split with FWIO after expenses.

The finished quilts will be shown at the International Plowing Match in Kemptville next year. They have generously granted a 20 x 20 space to use.

Thanks to Debbie Fawcett, Leslie Gjos, Donna Russett Past FWIO President and Tricia Habberjam for stepping up and being on this committee along with me.



The Theme of the WISH event is ‘JUST HAVE FUN” because this event is meant to be fun as we celebrate together. It has something for everyone and there will be a total of 6 Clues/Activities throughout the year beginning in the month of February 2022. Friendly competition among the Branch Teams and an amazing Grand Prize at the end of the year make this a fun, participatory event.

It is open to every WI Member including Associate Members.

Thanks to Linda Mitchell, Susan Cushing, Michelle Phillippi, Anne Innes, Elaine Tully & Linda Zelem.


Watch for upcoming announcements on the FWIO Website and E-Blast for details on both events.

Thank you all for your continued commitment and support of WI in your communities and we will continue to do our best to find ways to support you.

If you have questions you can always contact your Regional Board Director or me. Contact information is available on the FWIO website or by calling the office.

Yours for Home and Country,

Mary Shortt