On the left is the travelling briefcase and some of its contents. The briefcase also holds a WI plate

On the left is the travelling briefcase and some of its contents. The briefcase also holds a WI plate

Curator’s Corner: Travelling Exhibit

Anniversary of Shirley Women's Institute to be celebrated

To honour their 90th anniversary, the Shirley Women’s Institute (SWI) has partnered with the Sooke Region Museum to develop a travelling exhibit. The SWI, founded in 1924 by eight women, was the first organization in the small rural community of Shirley. Their first meeting was on October 24, 1924 at the Shirley School House, which no longer exists. Since its commencement, the institute’s goals have been to help improve the rural community and to increase the independence and self-sufficiency of its members.

While the institute is a small organization, it has made some outstanding accomplishments.  For example, the SWI took on issues such as improving road conditions and access to modern services like telephones and electricity. One of the SWI’s most prominent undertakings was its involvement in the prevention of combining Thanksgiving and Remembrance (Armistice) Day into one holiday. At the October 7, 1926 meeting the SWI adopted the following resolution: “Moved by Mrs. Edwin Clark, seconded by Mrs. H.J. Kirby that-Whereas the true significance of Armistice Day and Thanksgiving Day is lost by being combined in one holiday, and whereas November 11th should be kept as a holiday in honour and memory of those who made the Armistice possible, therefore be it resolved to ask women’s and other organizations to take steps to induce the Federal Government to have Armistice Day Nov. 11th proclaimed a public holiday.” The proposal had immense support and the combined holiday was prevented. The organization has also been widely recognized for their fundraising efforts.

In 2011, the institute had a revival after it nearly faced extinction due to the fact that its members were growing older and they found it difficult to keep it running. Thankfully, a few resident women, including current President Stephanie Croft, took steps towards reviving the institute. In 2011 they started with eight members, just as in 1924, and membership continues to grow. While their values and goals have remained the same as they were 90 years ago, younger generations are becoming more interested in living rural lifestyles. Thus, current membership ages range from their 20s to their 80s, which is uncommon for a Women’s Institute. To support and encourage their values, the SWI offers a variety of workshops for women wanting to learn about topics such as producing and preparing their own food, harvesting, canning, and making handicrafts.

The travelling exhibit has two portions. The first portion is a tri-fold presentation board (3’6” W x 2’4” H) that was designed in house using the program Microsoft Publisher and then sent out for printing on foam core. The tri-fold design is ideal for displaying at meetings and craft fairs. The content on the board includes information about the SWI’s origin, values and revival. It also includes pictures and documents such as the institute’s 1924 certificate of incorporation.

The second portion of the traveling exhibit is a briefcase filled with replicated documents, letters and pictures. The briefcase was donated to the museum by the SWI on September 25, 2013 and has been repurposed for this exhibit. The briefcase’s handle was falling off, so the museum’s exhibit tech stabilized it and the interior was cleaned. Nevertheless, it has some visible wear and tear. The replicated contents in the briefcase are intended to be picked up and handled. Some of the most exciting materials inside are duplicated letters sent to the SWI from World War II service men. To recreate these letters they were scanned, printed and dyed in tea to give them an aged and crinkled effect. The briefcase will be a great learning tool for people interested in the history of the organization.

In addition to the travelling exhibit, the institute requested to have artifact 1979.100.001 reproduced. This artifact is a framed collection of pictures showing 13 original members of the SWI. The reproduction will hang in the Shirley Community Hall. The 13 photographs are also included on the tri-fold presentation board.

To celebrate the SWI’s 90th anniversary, a tree planting ceremony will be held in Pioneer Park outside the Shirley Community Hall at 1:00 on Sunday September 21. The event is casual and will include tea and baked goods. Additionally, a plaque will be presented and the travelling exhibit will be on display in the hall. All inquiries about the SWI, events and membership can be answered by President Stephanie Croft (stephaniecroft@hotmail.com).

Brianna Shambrook

 

Collections and Exhibits

Manager

Sooke Region Museum

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police will be out in force to target drunk drivers this weekend as part of ICBC’s annual CounterAttack campaign. (Contributed - ICBC)
Police launch Christmas CounterAttack this weekend

On average, 11 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving on the Island every year

Victoria police arrested a man in a Yates Street grocery store Nov. 27 after he refused to wear a mask. (Black Press Media File photo)
Belligerent man arrested in Victoria grocery store after refusing to wear mask

Officers fined the man $230 under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act

A 43-year-old woman is facing charges for impaired driving and leaving the scene of a crash after attempting to flee from police by driving down the beach in front of the Oak Bay Marina on Nov. 23. (Oak Bay Police/Twitter)
Victoria woman drives over seawall onto beach near Oak Bay Marina

Driver faces charges for fleeing crash, refusing breathalyzer test

Friends with Dorothy opens in Victoria.
LGBT2Q+ lounge Friends with Dorothy opens second location in Victoria

The Kelowna-based lounge plans to open in Victoria mid-December

Sig
Traffic delays expected on Monday from highway construction in Sooke

Single-lane alternating traffic between Otter Road and Caldwell Road

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Freighter anchored off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
MP to host expert panel for virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MacGregor’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

Most Read