Organizing Rural Women: The Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario, 1897-1919

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McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 2004 - Social Science - 240 pages
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Kechnie places the WI within the context of the country life movement emanating from the United States, arguing that Ontario farm women's attempts to organize should be viewed as part of the Department of Agricultural's efforts to revive the flagging fortunes of the Farmers' Institutes and encourage farm women to embrace "scientific home management" in order to modernize farm homes and discourage the depopulation of Ontario's farms. While many men and women within the farm community supported the government's attempts to encourage "book farming," many others resisted the state's educational initiatives and identified with the independent farm movement. In order to ensure the success of the WI the Ontario Department of Agriculture provided funds to hire organizers and the organization was encouraged to develop branches outside farming areas, even if this meant ignoring the needs of farm women. By the end of the World War I the WI had become one of the largest women's organizations in the province but was widely known not for its emphasis on scientific home management but for its community activism.

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Thorneloe College, Laurentian University

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