Demorestville Women’s Institute celebrates 100th anniversary

A CENTURY IN THE MAKING (left to right) Mary Shortt past president, Valerie Smith board director, Barbara Foster President of DWI and Wilma DeWolde PEC district WI president all took part in cutting the 100th anniversary cake at Sophiasburgh Town Hall. About 100 people attended the anniversary celebrations. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)






It was a celebration 100 years in the making.


Demorestville Women’s Institute celebrated their 100th anniversary Thursday at the Sophiasburgh Town Hall with approximately 100 people in attendance.

Not too many years ago the Demorestville branch was down to a scant three members and thanks to the efforts of the members Joan Williams, Ruth Rallison and Gwen Johnson, the women’s service club based in Sophiasburgh now have 13 active members and are looking forward to another 100 years of service to their beloved community.

Joan Williams, past president of the DWI, in a dress her mother made for the 50th anniversary celebrations in 1969. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

The W.I. makes a real difference not only on a local level but also to provincial, national and international causes and County of Prince Edward Mayor Steve Ferguson, Councillor Bill Roberts and Adam Bramburger from Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith’s office all conveyed their congratulations on this amazing accomplishment.

The late Peggy Allison was a life member of the Demorestville branch with a 60 year membership and her mother Myrtle Howard was one of the founding members.

Allison family members joined the celebration with Peggy Allison’s son Gerald Allison speaking on behalf of the family.

The women’s institute has touched our lives in one way or another,” said Melissa Tran, Mistress of Ceremonies and granddaughter of Peggy Allison. “For me it’s a turn that’s synonymous with community and great eating and to my grandma but I’v grown to realize the women’s institute is so much more than that, so much more then home cooked meals.”

My mother followed in my grandma’s foot steps and was part of the Demorestville W.I. for over 60 years,” Gerald Allison stated. “And for those of you who knew my mom knows she wouldn’t be very happy I’m up here talking about her, she was a doer and did not want recognition.”

He also added the Demorestville W.I. had instilled a desire in their family to do volunteer work, and his mom would want him to say she was only one of many women in their community who gave and are still giving.

Sophiasburgh Councillor Bill Roberts. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

Speaking on behalf of MPP Smith, Bramburger said it was a rare occasion to attend a centennial celebration.

It’s not often we get to celebrate 100 years of anything, let alone something thats so important and vital to our community as our Women’s Institutes,” said Bramburger. “We are happy to see the federation of Women’s Institutes have come so far since there humble beginning down in Stoney Creek not very far from where we are today, to here in Demorestville where you’ve kept that tradition alive it’s an Ontario success story that we can all be proud of.”

Mayor Ferguson complimented the Demorestville chapter for their 100 years of strong service to their community in the Sophiasburgh area and beyond.

The 100 years of volunteer service to our community is a gigantic milestone,” Ferguson expressed. “Thank you for the invitation to attend this terrific celebration, I’m extremely glad to be here today only because I know of the wonderful work in the events done by the Demorestville Women’s Institute and would like to thank them for everything they do.”

The Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario is a not-for-profit charitable organization with affiliates around the world working with and for rural and urban women and their families.

Through their network of branches they offer high quality education and support programs and services, advocate for social and economic change and work towards the personal growth and empowerment of all women.

We want to thank the Allison family for sharing photographs and newspaper articles of our history with us,” expressed Barbara Foster, a decade long member and branch president for the last five years. “We have been given a glimpse of the Demorestville WI’s past of what this group of amazing dedicated women and men have been able to accomplish for their community.”

The evening also invited music by Paul Hillier and Beverly Sprague as well as Leslie and Kirby Breithaupt.

An acknowledgement to 25 year members Brenda DeCastris, Joan Williams and Margret Kerr were all presented with a 25 year pin by Trudy Jones.

Williams celebrated the event by donning a dress her mother made special for the 50th anniversary celebrations in 1969.

“Yesterday I was ironing at home and thought this is quite a story, here I am ironing the dress my mom made and I’m living in the house she made it in and lived till the day she passed away.” Williams said, also taking a moment to recognize all those members who dutifully had undertaken a leadership role with the chapter in the last 100 years.

Thank you for this opportunity to speak today it’s just terrific to see you all here,” announced Roberts. “Congratulations on 100 really productive, impactful and critical contributions to our community, to our province, to our country and to our world and I wish you at least 100 more.”