DENMAN ISLAND WOMEN’S INSTITUTE fonds – 1919 -1980 (predominant 1919 – 1960) – 1.5 cm. of textual records – 2 albums ; 12cm. (30×30 cm.)

         The Denman Island Women’s Institute was incorporated on Oct. 31, 1919 and was dissolved in 1980. It was an organization of women that paralleled the already existing Farmers’ Institute on Denman. At incorporation there were 30 members. The Women’s Institute was involved in various social service projects such as the “Travelling Library”, improvements to the school, improvements to health services, “Alberta Relief”, supporting the war effort during WW II, donating to the Red Cross among many other initiatives. The group also organized many community events like the Christmas Party, and the Fall Fair as well as sponsoring many speakers and demonstrations of interest to a rural community. The Women’s Institute worked with the Farmer’s Institute to improve the phone system, hydro power, mail delivery, roads, and ferry service. When the Institute dissolved in 1980 they handed over their assets to the Denman Island Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.

          The fonds consists of 5 items:  

(A.18.78) – Loc.A-B-1  –  Women’s Institute Scrapbook contains the Certificate of Incorporation 1919, a short, handwritten history 1919-1959, roll call 1921-1931, Prov. Exhibition entries 1938, photos (22), ephemera, and clippings (60) 1938 – 1978, some written by Pearl Grieve and Trudy Vince.                                 

(A.18.91) – Loc.A-H-10  –  “Village History of Denman Island” prepared by the Women’s Institute for the Tweedsmuir Cup in 1949 based on notes compiled by W. Baikie and Mr. Dean in 1939-1940. Also a “History of Denman Island” – 16 pages, half typed, half handwritten. This item appears to be the precursor to the previous one. The “Village History” is a photocopy from the BC Archives. 

(A.18.71) – Loc.A-B-1  –   A History of Denman Island written in 1939” 16 pages, a typed version of the above “History of Denman Island” with minor changes. The album includes 40 photos and 46 clippings (primarily 1958-1960) most of which are by Doras Kirk. There is also a small section on Hornby Island. This album is most likely the effort of Doras Kirk through the Women’s Institute.  (Clipping File:Women’s Institute) ‘Women’s Institute History”, 17 page typed document which appears to be an earlier version of “Village History of Denman Island”.  Three certificates 1929 -1976, Dora Drinkwater’s and Winnie Isbister’s  Women’s Institute service pins, 12 clippings 1930 -1994, 3 photos 1920? – 1960?, one letter.   

 (A20.15) – Loc.A-H-12  –  Women’s Institute History of Denman Island is a 26 pp. typed document produced by the Women’s Institute possibly for the Tweedsmuir Cup in 1949 based on notes from Winnifred Baikie (Isbister). There are various versions in the archives. See (A.18.91) and (A.18.71). It forms the basis of the book “My Ain Folk                                                                                                                                 (83.37.1) – box  –   photo of Chief Andy Frank and Mungo Martin at Lewis Park presented to the D.I. Women’s Institute.

Note.  There are photos of the last quilt made by the Women’s Institute in 1979 in (A.18.24) Loc.A-H-10 Billie Joe Imlach Letter

          See also (A.18.34.33) Loc.A-H-3 Women’s Institute in the Doras Kirk Collection fonds

            Title based on official name. In some cases it is spelled Womens’ Institute

            All items found in storage in the Denman Museum 2018. Most of this material was likely collected by Doras Kirk who had a private collection from 1950 to 1980 when it was turned over to the Denman Seniors and Museum Society.

             The BC Provincial Archives holds: minute books (1928-1980), cash books (1228-1980), membership book (1948-1967), and financial statements (1953-1977).

             Winnie Isbister’s book My Ain Folk and Jim Kirk’s book My Ain Folk Revisited also have short histories of the Denman Island Women’s Institute based on the above material.