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United Church Women make their own lunch for 60th anniversary celebration

Ron Walter looks at the history of the UCW.
Trading Thoughts by Ron Walter

The program following the celebration of the United Church Women’s 60th anniversary at Minto United Church featured sharing of memories by members and former members.

Some of the memories were from members in rural churches. Minto’s congregation swelled about 45 years ago when a number of district United Churches joined this church. Members from other rural churches also joined as their churches closed.

“We worked hard; we played hard,” said Vivian Wilson, the only active original Minto UCW member left.

Wilson was presented with a porcelain angel inscribed with “Not All Angels Are in Heaven.”

Wilson said three others have been UCW members for 60 years but in different churches, — Jan Coward, Kathleen Froese and Vivian Francis.

Adele Dixon of Trinity UCW joked “Never accept an office, you'll be there forever.”

A companion from her UCW Bev Rioux noted she has been secretary for 14 years.

Forence Binner recalled the fun had and work done for years by the UCW at Parkbeg.

Joyce Walter, who never was a UCW member, said she used to serve lunches and sample them when the Parkbeg group met at her parents’ home.

She enjoyed going to lunches of different members as “it seemed there was a competition to see who had the best lunch.”

Muriel Harris described herself as a travelling UCW member having been a member at Smith Falls, Ont., Winnipeg, Brandon and Moose Jaw.   Leone Townend of Minto, once a member of the Mount Pleasant  UCW northeast of Moose Jaw, said it was a good way to meet people in the district.

“They made lots of pies. For the life of me I couldn’t make pies.” Her first pie wound up buried by the dog.

“One of the ladies took me under her wing and showed me how to make pies. That’s how I learned to make pies.”

Jan Coward outlined all the work the UCWs have done and recalled the Drinkwater UCW involvement in raising funds for the church, community and missions from bake sales to concessions at farm auctions.

UCWs across the country have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the church and mission work and assisted the community.

Eleanor Akins of Hearne remembered when there were two United Church women’s groups, one focused on missions, one focused on the local church and community. They became the UCW 60 years ago.

She said the UCW was on the forefront of change, working for the first transition houses for women who are abused.

Not all the work by UCWs was about food, said Shirley Devine, who was a member of the rural Lake Valley UCW.

“We dug toilet holes for the church.’’

Once her UCW did a "trip to the moon treasure hunt.” They got the women dressed in combination suits and with picks, took them blindfolded to a pasture with gigantic rock piles and let them hunt for treasure.

On the way back home the van caught on fire. “That was our re-entry,’’ she laughed.

Walter urged the UCW to never quit. “You do such good work.’’

One observer wondered why the men of Minto didn’t make the  food for the lunch at the celebration.

Ron Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  

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