November President’s Message – Council of Women

2016-17-HHall-IMG-0481At our October meeting Shannon Passero suggested that she would come to our meetings just to hear the History Corner! This got me thinking that there are organizations in St. Catharines that I hear about but have little knowledge of. So I thought, since we are women and members of the St. Catharines and District Council of Women, I would take this opportunity to highlight some of what they have accomplished.

Established in 1918, it is an affiliate of the Provincial Council of Women of Ontario and the National Council of Women of Canada. Its first president was Mary Malcolmson, who started the Girl Guides in Canada in 1910.

In the early years they brought in the VON and started the Women’s Canadian Club. They initiated Child Welfare Centres in local churches. They encouraged women to take political office and join committees. In 1929, a “Shop-at Home” exhibition became a yearly event encouraging people to shop locally. So   relevant today.

In 1931 with a surplus of Niagara fruits and vegetables, the Council distributed them to “indigent, thrifty housewives” along with sugar and sealers. I wonder how they qualified!

In 1942, great interest in the Council brought 600 women to the Annual Meeting to hear two speakers from the Wartime Prices and Trade Board. Lobbying at this time included improving conditions in beer parlours, opposing commercialized Sunday sports, and asking for a Social Services Worker and a Policewoman.

In 1967 the Council Women sold 750 coffee spoons in honour of Canada’s centennial enabling them to give charitable donations and scholarships!

In 1976 “Women in Action” was published recounting women who made a contribution to the community from 1876 to 1976.

In 1987 their initiative started the multi-material curbside recycling program.

In 1991 a Read Canada project was set up in two non-profit housing projects.

In 2000, the Council joined the YWCA and CFUW – St. Catharines to have the “Tribute to Women” sculpture built to honour volunteer women’s groups that have existed for at least 35 years. It is outside of the St. Catharines Public Library.