Roy, education programmer at the Musée Héritage Museum, recently visited the St. Albert 50+ Club and shared some of the Musée’s archival materials on the St. Albert Women’s Institute.
|Norah Rouault, Lorraine Moore, and Marguerite Dalman looking at archival materials
Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with longtime members of the St. Albert Women’s Institute, and the St. Albert 50+ Club. What prompted this meeting was a request to our archivist, Vino, for scrapbook pages created by Women’s Institute member Marguerite Dalman in the 1970s. These pages contain newspaper articles, photos, and other items pertaining to the Women’s Institute, and its founding of the St. Albert Seniors’ Club, from 1973 to 1975.
The 50+ Club will celebrate its 40th anniversary soon, and they are working on a book detailing the club’s history over the past forty years. The Women’s Institute was the driving force behind the original St. Albert Seniors’ Club, which became the 50+ Club over time.
It was the Women’s Institute that started gathering the funding and support for the Seniors’ Club; and Women’s Institute members, as well as their husbands, friends, and relations, were largely responsible for the construction of the building. According to the ladies, the original rectangular building still stands, but is unrecognizable now, due to various additions to the building.
At the 50+ Club, I met with Norah Rouault, Marguerite Dalman, and Lorraine Moore, all longtime members of the Women’s Institute, and three of the women responsible for the founding of the Seniors’ Club; and Yvonne Bull, a member of the 50+ Club, and one of the members that is leading the creation of the upcoming book.
I passed around the pages of the scrapbook, treating each page with the care that historic documents require; Marguerite, Lorraine, and Norah pored over the material, sharing interesting and emotional stories about that time; and Yvonne diligently took down notes. It was interesting to hear about how much of a struggle it was for the ladies’ organization to be taken seriously at that time, and to begin and complete the Seniors’ Club.
The reason for the founding of the Seniors’ Club was that Women’s Institute Members were tired of their elderly parents, and other senior citizens, having to use the Community Hall, which had no storage for the seniors’ things. They would have to pack boxes into the hall, and then back out of the hall, every time they had a gathering. Marguerite, Lorraine, and Norah wanted local senior citizens to have a place of their own! They worked hard to found the Seniors’ Club, and forty years later, the place is still going strong.
As an employee of the Musée Héritage Museum, it’s really a pleasure to be able to meet wonderful members of the community, like these ladies. While I went as “keeper” of the archival materials, to ensure it was taken care of, it was really me that learned at that meeting. Local stories, told by the people who experienced the events, are so important to our past. It’s those stories that really make up our local history, and it’s the storytellers that help to add spice to that history!