In 2021, our club, the Canadian Federation of University Women – St Catharines, will celebrate our 100th Anniversary. In anticipation of these significant events, the St. Catharines Chapter, Anniversary 100 Liaison Committee has created the “History Corner.”
History Corner – November 2016
Did you know that CFUW National will turn 100 in 2019 and CFUW St Catharines will reach that landmark in 2021? That’s 200 years of collective woman power!
Here we look back at the context or setting for the birth of CFUW. What were the issues? What were the headlines in the second decade of the 20th century?
During the war, social events revolved around fundraisers (such as dances and card parties) to raise money to send overseas. Women met frequently and dependably to pack supplies or knit for the soldiers. As well, there was remarkable industrial expansion that began after the beginning of World War 1. It opened many opportunities for women. Thousands of women went to work for the first time filling positions as in munitions factories.
The end of the war brought euphoria and pride. For women, the future looked especially bright. Women could vote and they had a new role as wage earners. One in seven was in the labour force. The war had emancipated them. Women were well established in the teaching professions and were entering law, medicine, social work, journalism and nursing in larger numbers.
For women, there was a new world of choice around the corner. It was in 1919, the National Federation CFUW was born. “Education in all its phases was declared to be the first interest of the new federation.”
Thus we began.
1912 Titanic Sinks.
1913 Immigration is at an all time high. 400,000 newcomers arrive in Canada
1914 WW1 Starts.
1916 Edmonton’s Emily Murphy is the first woman magistrate in the British Empire.
1917 Parliament buildings were destroyed by fire.
1917 Federal Income Tax was introduced as a temporary wartime measure.
1918 Federal vote was granted to women.
1918 First airmail flight takes 6 hours from Montreal to Toronto.
1918 WW 1 Ends.
1919 CFUW National was created.
History Corner – December 2016
At the November Meeting in St. Catharines, a group of three members performed a vignette focussing on three of the Club’s charter members. The “Liaison 100” created “Lightning Strikes” a series of short, focussed slices of our Club’s history. This month, the three dynamic charter members described were Laura Newman, Mary Louise Greenwood and Lily Bell.
Current member Barb Legg took on the role of Laura Newman and, speaking in Laura’s voice, explained how the Club started with meetings held in members’ homes.
Mary Jane Waszynski portrayed Mary Louise Greenwood describing her role as the first club president and her activities in the community.
Trish Loat embodied Lily Bell and spoke of her impressive role in the Club and the city. Susan Pruyn, humorously shared some personal memories of Lily Bell, who had been her neighbour many years ago.
History Corner – March 2017
The Anniversary 100 Liaison Committee is collecting historical facts, reminiscences and reflections to compile a booklet recalling the history of CfUW St. Catharines and commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the club in 2019
Some of the committee members bring some personal reflections to the General Meetings. On February 14th, 2017, Caroline Nolan cited the importance of the United Nations Day for Women and Peace on March 8th. She mentioned the solidarity reflected in the Women’s March on the day after Trump’s inauguration. And she quoted from Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes, “Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”
Gail Neff also alluded to the Women’s March and her participation with the 200 or so participants in the St. Catharines’ contribution to the March. She walked with Pat Milland and Sue Hughes, proudly wearing her “pink pussy” hat to support antidiscrimination and support for women in all walks of life.
Bettianne Matheson spoke of becoming a member of the St. Catharines chapter as a young bride in the mid 1960s. Betty Freidan and Gloria Steinem were in the news supporting feminism but Bettianne particularly remembered St. Catharines’ own Laura Sabia, who became president of CFUW National and was instrumental in petitioning then Prime Minister Lester Pearson for a National Royal Commission on the Status of Women.