NBWI - New Brunswick Women's Institute

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE WOMEN'S INSTITUTE HOME FOR SENIOR WOMEN


A local ideal united unto a Provincial Project. This was how it happened when a Home for Senior Institute members was established in New Brunswick.

A need for a home for senior women had long been recognized but the idea first began to take shape at a meeting of the Spence Settlement Institute in Westmorland County in 1946. The idea was presented to the Provincial Convention in 1947 in a Resolution, which read in part:

  • Whereas: There are many Women's Institute members who through no fault of their own, find themselves without a home.

  • Whereas: It is impossible to find homes where these aged members can board. Therefore be it resolved, that we the New Brunswick Women's Institutes begin at once to build a fund to be used to purchase and maintain a comfortable home, where many of our faithful members may be assured of a home for their old age.

The resolution was unanimously adopted and the delegates returned to their branches full of enthusiasm and plans for raising the necessary funds. Thus a Local Idea became a Provincial Project.

During the Provincial Convention in 1949, the interest was high and an objective of$10,000.00 was set. It was decided to transfer the money in "the Fund in Aid of the Feeble- minded", now $2562.00 to the "Home Fund" and the following year Carleton County contributed 20,000 copies of their famous Victory Cook Book to be sold for the Home.

By 1950 contributions received amounted to $9,000.00 and at the Convention that year Committees were appointed to prepare Rules and Regulations to govern the home, to prepare Application Forms and for purchasing furniture.

The Fund had reached the stage where the 1951 Convention had no hesitation in appointing a Purchasing Committee to purchase a home. A survey was made of the Province for a suitable location. Certain criteria governed the choice Š nearness to churches of various denominations, library, shopping, hospital, clinic, doctors and V.O.N. assistance.

The ideal house was found in Woodstock, the shiretown of Carleton County. This house was located on a tree-lined street. It had spacious lawns, wide porches, a connecting carriage house and ample space for enlarging. This house was purchased May 1952 for $10,000.00. After some remodeling and additions, the house was opened for guests Dec. 1st, 1952, the first Senior Citizen's Women's Institute Home in Canada.

It has been related in a few words the events which led to the opening of the Home, but it would not be easy to calculate the number of working hours the Institute Members put into raising money for this great enterprise. Up to May 31, 1952, $20,000.00 in money alone had been contributed.

The Official Opening took place May 15, 1953. It was a gala occasion and was attended by members of the Department of Agriculture, members of the Advisory Board and hundreds of Institute members from the four corners of the Province. It was said of the Institutes on this occasion, that they had shown an old fashioned industriousness and had set a good example for people who depend too much on government for assistance. The Institutes had not appealed for help from any Government Agencies or any other Organizations.

At the 1954 Convention a motion was carried that due to the large number of applications received, the Women's Institute Home should be enlarged. This decision was recovered with enthusiasm and the voluntary contributions and gifts of furnishings began to come in. Ten thousand boxes of hasti-notes were sold and added to the funds.

By the Spring of 1955 the carriage house was finished, providing eight more bedrooms, two baths, linen closets and storage. Districts, Institutes and individuals furnished the rooms and they were immediately occupied. This report was happily received at the 42nd annual Convention. Sixteen guests were in residence. The Home was free of debt and a balance on hand of $525.00. The Institutes were urged to budget for $1.00 per member each year to assist in maintenance. An Endowment fund was opened from which the interest could be used for the upkeep of the house.

On May 14, 1963 an "Open House" was held at the Home to celebrate the tenth Anniversary of the Official Opening. Again Institute members came from throughout New Brunswick, as well as Department Officials to enjoy the festivities.

Another forward decision was reached during the 1964 Convention when it was agreed to again enlarge the Home by adding on an annex to contain three bedrooms, bath, laundry and storage. The rooms were furnished in Vilas maple and were soon occupied. There were now 19 guests and three live-in staff members, each occupying a single room. The Institutes had raised $10,000.00 for this enlargement and the Home was free of debt. Due to searing costs no more additions have been made.

The Home is a corporation, incorporated under the New Brunswick Companies Act. It has a Board of seven Directors who govern the Home and a Committee of seven members who administer the monthly affairs of the house.

The years have passed and the Women's Institute Home has provided a comfortable home for many Institute members and others, who have borne the burden of the day and are ready to rest in "Life's Twilight".

    It is a Home where:
    "The Beauty of the House is order;
    The Blessing of the House is contentment; The Glory of the House is hospitality;
    The Crown of the House is Godliness."

    ~ Hildred Thomas (deceased Feb. 16, 1997), Chairman, Home Committees

  • NBWI provides nine (9) different academic scholarships annually NBWI offers sessions on various topics such as environmental concerns, womenÕs rights, health education, legal issues, family violence and many other subjects.
  • NBWI maintains and operates the WI Home for Senior Ladies. This home established in 1952, is the only one like it in Canada and offers a cozy home atmosphere for senior women.
  • NBWI offers education to members during conventions at the district and provincial level.
  • NBWI supports the crew of HMCS Fredericton with their annual Bike for Wishes fund raising event, providing meals for the bikers, refreshments along the way and attending the rallies.
  • NBWI lobbies governments and other agencies regarding changes and reforms to improve family and community life.
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