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The BCWI is an educational organization for women and families since 1897, and active in BC since 1909.

What Country Women are Doing – 1933

Earlier this year, I wrote about a book which was edited by Sholto Watt titled “What Country Women of the World are Doing”. This volume of some 258 pages, compiled from submissions of country women from all active member countries of the Associated Country Women of the World, highlights some of the lighter, entertaining activities of the various groups.

The submission from British Columbia, prepared by Jane B. Burden, was titled Pageantry in British Columbia. It reads, in part:

“British Columbia is a new country in which fifty years is very ancient history, so that except for a wealth of Indian legend and tradition, there is strictly speaking no pageantry which can be described as belonging to the Province. Although British Columbia does not celebrate the memory of Captain George Vancouver locally, the Native Sons of British Columbia  send a wreath every year to place on his grave in Petersham Churchyard, but neither at Victoria nor at Vancouver is there any public demonstration.”

Ms. Burden goes on:

“Empire Day, May 24th, is a Dominion Holiday, and everywhere it is celebrated with processions and and pageants etc., in which old and young take part. In the smaller communities the Women’s Institute is the leading spirit in planning the festivities, arranging in cooperation with the school teachers dances, drill, and sports by the school children, providing the refreshments and frequently “putting on a dance” for the grown-ups to end a long and hilarious day.

 In many places the Institutes have revived the old English May Day ceremonies as part of the Empire Day celebrations. A May Queen, chosen from among the school children, is crowned with fitting ceremony, and supported by detachments of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, watches over her subjects for the Day. In many towns it has become an established custom, which appears to be increasingly popular with old and young. The illustrations* show celebrations at Coquitlam and Vernon. The Queen usually receives a small gift from the Institute to commemorate her royal estate.”

If possible, we will include the two photos*, but they are quite dark and may not reproduce well.

This book “What Country Women of the World are Doing” is one of a series edited by Mr. Watt, but the only one of which I have a copy. It would be wonderful to have a full set, but I doubt that is possible.

The preface of this book, in closing, reads:

This issue, “FESTIVALS NUMBER,” of “What the Country Women of the World are Doing” is the first of what we expect will be an important and authoritative series of special aspects of home and community life. The fortunate possessors of the previous volumes will have a comprehensive account of the organized activities of country women. With this and coming volumes on cookery, country homes, and so on, will form an interesting country women’s shelf in your library. This series ought to be of growing interest and value as the place country women play in our social and economic development is better appreciated.”

Yours For Home and Country, Ruth Fenner, Provincial Historian, British Columbia Women’s Institute


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