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

A recently finished $4.3-million taxiway extension at the Victoria International Airport (not pictured) is unusable because of a blind spot. (Black Press Media file photo)
Blind spot leaves Victoria airport’s new $4.3-million taxiway extension unusable

Solution has been put on hold by COVID-19 pandemic, says airport authority

Walkers ascend Mount Douglas Park on Sunday, Feb. 7. Visits to Saanich Parks are up 46 per cent compared to pre-pandemic statistics this time last year. (Darrell Wick Photo)
Oak Bay, Saanich parks peak in popularity during pandemic

Oak Bay spent an extra $5,000 on park toilet paper in 2020

Kelly Black, executive director of Point Ellice House Museum and Gardens, is working on years of deferred maintenance around the house and property. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Point Ellice House in Victoria looks to patch up during pandemic

Woodpeckers, leaks and rot keep museum head busy

This male Dungeness can safely be harvested after passing muster. An official with Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it is not clear how well locals on the Saanich Peninsula are complying with crabbing regulations, but her comments suggest that any problems might be of a minor nature. (Department of Fisheries and Oceans/Submitted)
Sidney and Sooke record 57 crabbing violations in 2020

While recreational crab fishery has ‘compliance issues,’ no evidence of ‘large scale poaching’

Police seek information after a pedestrian was hit in a crosswalk at the intersection of Goldstream Avenue and Veterans Memorial Parkway on March 3.(Google Maps)
Witnesses sought in Langford pedestrian hit and run

Suspect is older man driving four-door, gold sedan

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Initiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

The first of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft—the Dash-8—becomes operational. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance air craft is capable of staying aloft for eight to 10 hours for a variety of missions up and down the B.C. coast. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
New plane will double DFO’s surveillance capacity in B.C.

The Dash-8 will fly out of Campbell River for enforcement, conservation missions

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Most Read