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Helen Turner’s Minutes – An Early Meeting of the W.A.

This is just one of many gems that can be found in the recently published River, Road and Rail – Woodroffe Memories, a beautiful coffee-table book including over 300 photos, maps and other images on the history of Woodroffe. I have lived here for the past 40 years. This book contains a history of the area from earliest days, a description of the effect of building the Ottawa River Parkway, which required the demolition of about 180 cottages, and then brief stories written by residents describing their experience growing up here during the period 1920 through 2010.

This is a literal transcript of the “minutes” taken by Helen Turner of a very early meeting of the W.A., with the original spelling and grammar.  The appended note says: “Helen Turner went to the W. A. meeting, which was held at Mrs. Barclay’s and was given a little table to sit at while she took the notes. Helen was a fairly rapid writer and was able to get down most of the proceedings. She copied the report into the minute book and, as Gladys Willans did not think about it until the next meeting, when she came to read it she found it just as Helen had written it, word for word. The reading caused some excitement! The minutes were as follows.” When Merv Mitchell read them at a subsequent anniversary celebration, a number of women who had been at the meeting attested to their authenticity.  Freda Sparling, who was present at the meeting, did not recall the precise details but said it certainly sounded like a typical meeting of the time.

The W.A. [Woodroffe United Church Women’s Association] met at the home of Mrs. Barclay. There were seven present when it started but more came. Mrs. McCauley doesn’t know why they can’t come on time. She told them so. Mrs. Bradley said, “Land sakes, she had hard enough time getting there at all. She left a big bag of stockings all in holes. Mrs. Ferguson said it’s been so hot the holes are the most comfortable part of the stockings and if she were in Mrs. Bradley’s place she’d let the girls go barefoot. “Mrs. Bradley is going to let Anne go but she can’t let Gail, she’s so lanky she’d look all legs, like a sand-hill crane.

Mrs. McCauley said, Let’s open the meeting by singing “How Firm a Foundation,” but Mrs. Snider said, don’t take that, it’s in sharps: take “Nearer, Still Nearer,” it’s in flats, and Mrs. Bradley can handle the flats better. Then they sang and Mrs. Bradley and Mrs. Stevenson prayed. Mrs. Stevenson prayed the longest, but Mrs. Bradley prayed the loudest and for the most things. Mrs. Murphy read the last report, and they said it was better than usual, she only left out one or two things. Then they collected the money. Nearly everyone paid. Only Mrs. Simpson couldn’t find her’s, she was sure she had it in her glove when she came in, and she couldn’t see how it ever fell out. Mrs. Barclay will get it when she sweeps if it’s in the house at all. Mrs. Cashman had her ten cents in a teacup all ready, but when she went to get it, it was gone, and she’s afraid she gave that cup to one of the boarders by mistake. Mrs. Cashman said that’s the worst of keeping boarders, your home is never your own. Mrs. Lamb said if she only knew which one got it she could charge it up to him. Mrs. Cashman wouldn’t think of doing that. Total receipts of the meeting were $2.20.

Mrs. McCauley asked what about the new stair carpet. Mrs. Barclay is ashamed every time she takes anyone upstairs, it’s something awful. Mrs. Bayley hasn’t had time to think anything about it, she’s been doing up rhubarb, it’s so nice and tender in the spring. None of Mrs. Sparling’s folks will eat rhubarb so she never does any of it up though she is very fond of it herself, done with pineapple, the shredded pineapple, half and half. Mrs. George Ullettes doing rhubarb, too. It’s nice in the spring when everything goes flat on you. Mrs. McCauley said what about the stair carpet, now if you’re done with the rhubarb?

Mrs. Mooney said linoleum is better than carpet. Mrs. A.B. Ullett said it’s too cold on the feet. Mrs. Heffernan said Land sakes, let them wear their boots, they don’t need to go cantering up and down stairs in their bare feet, do they? Mrs. Barclay said linoleum would be all right if they couldn’t afford carpet, but there wasn’t any decent linoleum in town and even if there was you have to pay two prices for it, but she saw in the Woodroffe Record that there was going to be a linoleum sale in Shouldices on Saturday. Mrs. Young doesn’t like sales. Lorne got a horse at a sale one time and the very first time they hitched it up it took the blind staggers. Mrs. Wilson thinks there would be no danger of the linoleum having it though. Mrs. McCauley said she wished they’d talk sense. Mrs. Bookey said she would move that Mrs. Barclay get whatever she wanted for the stairs and the W.A. will pay for it. Carried. Mrs. McCauley said what about the knives and forks committee?

Mrs. Ellis hasn’t been able to go out since she fell down stairs. There’s a black patch on her knee yet. Mrs. Ellis blackens easily. Mrs. Babcock has had her hands full, goodness knows, since Aunt Jessie has been laid up with erysipelas. Aunt Jessie is pretty hard to wait on and doesn’t like the smell of the ointment the doctor gave her. It’s altogether different from what she got down in the States. Mrs. McCauley said she would get the knives and forks herself if anybody would make a motion. Two made it and three seconded it. Carried.

Mrs. McCauley said, ”How are things getting on for the bazaar?” Mrs. McDonald had a box of things sent from Mrs. Smith in Toronto. Mrs. Stevenson thinks Mrs. Smith must have been at a sale. You can get things so cheap there sometimes. When Mrs. Teddy Hall was in Ottawa she saw lovely lace stockings for eleven cents a pair, and beautiful flowered muslin just the very same as they ask sixty-five cents for here, going for twenty-nine cents. (Couldn’t get all they said here – everybody talked at once about sales).

Mrs. McCauley said, where will we hold it anyway, if we do get enough stuff? Mrs. Turner thought the basement of the church. Mrs. Simpson can’t get used to holding sales in churches. Her mother never could either. Mrs. McCauley said when the church was having the sale what were the odds where it was held, No use turning your nose up at a sale and still take the money. Mrs. Willans moved that the sale be held in the church, though if the stuff didn’t come faster, a piano box would do. Mrs. Dubie said hurry up do, please. She left the baby with Armond and he’s no good at all if she begins to fuss. Mrs. Fauteaux seconded the motion.

Mrs. McCauley said, where will we meet next time? Mrs. Allen said come to my house. Mrs. Turner said it was too far. Mrs. McDonald said the walk would do her good, and she had just been reading in the Union that that’s what’s wrong with lots of people – they don’t walk enough. Mrs. Stevenson is glad to know this for she often wondered what was wrong with lots of people, but Mrs. Bookie doesn’t think much of the Union. It’s way off sometimes.

Mrs. Simpson would like to come every time if she had company home. Mrs. McCauley said bring Mr. Simpson. Bill wouldn’t come, You can’t get him within three acres of a Ladies Aid Meeting. Never could. Decided to meet at Mrs. Murphy’s.

Helen Turner
(Just for this time)

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