Arcadia Women's Institute (Arcadia, Yarmouth County, N.S.)

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Arcadia Women's Institute (Arcadia, Yarmouth County, N.S.)

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The first Women's Institutes were organized in Nova Scotia in 1913 by the Department of Agriculture to improve social conditions and provide education and instruction to their members. The Institute was established in response to a national movement, originating in Ontario in 1911. The goal of the movement was to encourage the education of rural women. In Arcadia, Yarmouth County, N.S., the Women's Institute was organized on 10 August 1915. Eighteen women initially signed on with eighteen more joining in the next few months. Monthly meetings were held, often in members' homes, and the group was funded by an annual grant from the Department of Agriculture, membership dues and by raising money locally. The group focused its early attention on sending Red Cross comfort packages and money to soldiers during World War I. One of the group's first major accomplishment, the Arcadia Cenotaph, was erected by the Institute in the early 1920's, marking the deaths of five local soldiers during the War. The Institute was instrumental in establishing a community hall in 1923, and is still responsible for its maintenance. Because the Women's Institute could not own land or property, the Village of Arcadia Improvement Society was established to legally hold the mortgage and ownership of the monument and the hall. In the early years the group was involved with youth and education but the school involvement was dropped when schools amalgamated in the 1950s. By the mid 1920s six standing committees had been established: legislation, home and school, health, home economics, agriculture, and home industries. Other activities were exchanging recipes, musical performances, crafts, discussions on social issues, starting a library, and village improvement. The Women's Institute remains active in Arcadia.


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