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Original News Release





March 20, 2009

Ministry of Agriculture and Lands





As the B.C. Women’s Institute (BCWI) is honoured with a Century Farm Award for 100 years of contributions to the people of British Columbia, here are a few of its noteworthy activities.


·        Home economics classes: The BCWI was responsible for ensuring that sewing and cooking were, and continue to be, taught in schools.

·        Community halls: Women’s institutes across the province raised funds for the building of community halls, which became social hubs of communities and a venue for educational workshops.

·        Pacific National Exhibition: For many years, the BCWI gave demonstrations at the PNE on topics such as weaving, leatherwork, quilting, spinning and labour saving devices.

·        B.C. Children’s Hospital & Queen Alexandra Hospital: In 1927, Queen Alexandra Hospital opened in Victoria, followed in 1928 by the B.C. Crippled Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. A WI member involved in the establishment of these specialized facilities had personal experience of the inadequate hospital services for children. She traveled with her sick child from Denman to Hornby to Vancouver Island, drove down Vancouver Island to Nanaimo, took a ferry to Vancouver and then drove to Vancouver General Hospital, only to be told they didn’t accept outsiders.

·        Public Health Units: A particularly significant accomplishment during the late 1920s and early 1930s was the establishment of 132 public health units throughout the province.

·        St. Martin’s Hospital: The Oliver WI was instrumental in getting government land for St. Martin’s Hospital.

·        B.C. products week: Oliver had the first B.C. products week in the 1930s. This event encouraged people to buy B.C. products to counteract the push from Washington State to buy their produce.

·        Oak Trees: Upon the coronation of King George VI in 1937, 1,000 Oak seedlings from Windsor Great Park in England were sent to B.C. farmers and WI’s.

·        Lady Tweedsmuir Competition: In 1945, the Lady Tweedsmuir competition was introduced to keep village histories and cultural arts alive. At the BCWI Triennial conference, there are a variety of cultural competitions.

·        Dower Act: The BCWI successfully lobbied for changes to the Dower Act. In 1947 the act was rewritten to declare that a husband had to have his wife’s consent to sell the family home.

·        CPP: In 1947, BCWI initiated a resolution to the federal government for the introduction of a Canada Pension Plan. It was finally ratified in 1968.




·        Radio Broadcasts: Women in the North were very isolated. In the 1950s, the BCWI was instrumental in promoting and producing 14 weekly half-hour radio broadcasts specifically geared towards women living in the North.

·        The Pacific Dogwood: BCWI researched and recommended the Pacific Dogwood to become the provincial flower in 1956. They found botanical relatives to the Pacific Dogwood growing in all regions of B.C., including the North.

·        Compulsory Pasteurization: In the late 1950s, pasteurization of milk became compulsory in the Okanagan Valley due to the combined efforts of Dr. Clark, the medical health officer and the South Okanagan Women’s Institutes.

·        4-H Clubs: 4-H clubs have been established by many WI branches over the years since the late 1950s. BCWI members continue to contribute as leaders and judges.

·        Yellow lines: BCWIs were asked by the government in 1960 to make recommendations as to how to make the highways safer. They recommended the yellow lines seen today.

·        Fairview School: In 1960, the Testalinda Women’s Institute and the Action Committee established Fairview School for students with special needs. There were reports these students were excited to go to school.

·        911: In 1970, BCWI lobbied BC Tel to create a special number for quick response traumas and accidents. 911 was adopted in B.C.

·        ACWW World Conference: In 1983, BCWI hosted the Association of Country Women of the World Triennial Conference at the University of British Columbia. This was a massive undertaking and all B.C. branches had a role to play.

·        AITC: There was a concern that children had no idea where their food came from. In the 1990s the program, “Agriculture in the Classroom” created by a WI member, was introduced in B.C. schools.

·        R-BGH: BCWI registered its concerns regarding the use of the genetically engineered Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone in Dairy and Beef Cattle. R-BGH is not used in dairy cows in Canada.

·        Centennial Cookbook, Modern Pioneers & 100 Years of BCWI History: BCWI has produced three major publications during the past 100 years; the Centennial Cookbook (1958), Modern Pioneers: A 50-Year History of BCWI (1959) and 100 Years of BCWI Work and Accomplishments (2008).








Lara Perzoff

Manager, Agriculture Communications

Ministry of Agriculture and Lands

250 356-8950

250 920-9040 (cell)


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