OTD: Women’s Institutes of Canada founded

“Educate a boy and you educate a man. But educate a girl and you educate a family.”
– Adelaide Hoodless (British Columbia Women’s Institute, 1892)

On today’s date in 1897, the inaugural meeting of the Women’s Institute was held with 101 women and 1 man – Erland Lee – in attendance.

Earlier in the month, Adelaide Hoodless was invited by Lee to speak at a Farmers’ Institute meeting in Stoney Creek, Ont., where she suggested a similar organization could be of benefit for rural women, according to the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario website. She had met Lee the previous year, when she spoke at an agricultural conference at the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, Ont.

The Women’s Institute’s motto was “For Home and Country,” and among its early aims was promoting milk pasteurization after Hoodless’ 14-month-old son died from drinking unpasteurized milk.

“In the summer of 1889, Adelaide Hunter Hoodless was faced with an unthinkable tragedy: the loss of her 14-month-old son, John Harold Hoodless,” explains the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario.

“Hoodless was staggered that her own education had not provided the knowledge needed to run a household without the occurrence of such a tragedy. Thus began her tireless campaign for the education of girls and women in household management.”

Following the death of her child, Hoodless worked to raise the level of women’s education and help women in safeguarding their families.

Also a founder of the Victorian Order of Nurses, Hoodless dedicated her life to the welfare of others—but especially women and their families. Her goal was to have all women educated in “domestic science,” which she pushed schools to include in their curriculums. By the turn of the century, Ontario schools were teaching domestic science with colleges following a few years later.

Hoodless died in Toronto on Feb. 26, 1910, a day before her 53rd birthday.

An official first-day cover features all four ‘Canadian Women’ stamps issued by Canada Post in 1993. (Photo by ‘sherbrooke101’ via eBay)

1993 HOODLESS STAMP

A head-and-shoulders portrait of Hoodless was featured on a 43-cent stamp (Scott #1456) issued by Canada Post in 1993.

Designed by artist Heather Cooper, the stamp also features Hoodless’ name plus the double date “1857-1910” above her portrait and the words “FAMILY EDUCATOR/EDUCATRICE FAMILIALE” to the left.

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