MUSKOKA LAKES — A women’s organization in Windermere celebrated a century’s worth of dedication to their local community with a special tea party on Oct. 11.
100 years and counting.
100 YEARS AND COUNTING. Windermere Women’s Institute members Dianne Annette (left) and Joan Bentley serve up slices of cake to attendees of the club’s 100th anniversary party at the Windermere Community Centre on Tuesday.
Held at Windermere Community Centre, the event marked the 100th anniversary of the Windermere Women’s Institute, a grassroots organization dedicated to improving community life in the Muskoka Lakes village. Formed in 1911, the club is a branch of the Federated Women’s Institute of Ontario, and has come a long way from its original mission to help local women become more knowledgeable about operating an efficient home.
Windermere Women’s Institute president Darlene Poirier attributed the branch’s longevity to the enticing programming and entertaining speakers invited to speak to members.
“At one time, there was 39 women’s institute branches in Muskoka, some of which many of you belonged to,” Poirier told a crowd of around 50 attendees. “Today, only a few branches remain. The Windermere Women’s Institute is still thriving with 39 active members and still growing.”
During the event, members of the Windermere branch received special commemorative pins to mark the occasion.
The event also highlighted the connections of Poirier’s family to the branch. Poirier’s great-grandmother, Elizabeth Forge, was the original founder of the branch. Poirier’s grandmother and mother were also members.
Through its 100-year history, the Windermere branch has helped to add benches and safety equipment at the Windermere Wharf, established a historical archive for the community, and has been an active supporter of the hospitals in Bracebridge and Huntsville.
Aside from assisting various charities, the group also visits shut-ins and nursing home residents at Christmas, organizes artist displays at the Heritage Village Park, and has participated in community events like the annual roadside garbage cleanup.
As a parent organization, the Federated Women’s Institute of Ontario also brings a long history of activism. Historically, the group has lobbied for the pasteurization of milk in the 19th century, mandatory tuberculosis testing for food handlers, and more recently, legislation requiring breathalyser and blood testing for drunk drivers.