On Sept. 17, the 100 Women Who Care will be meeting to disperse their funds to a deserving charity. This organization came into being from the hard work of Tara Waddy and her co-organizers. I commend them for this. There were other womens groups in the past in Fort St. John that contributed to the well being of the community, and I’m glad to see this is continuing.
In the early 1970s, my sister, Janet Strang, was involved with the BPs. This was the Business and Professional Women’s League. I know this to be a fact because she convinced me to be their Santa Claus for their Christmas party in 1972. I had been on the fire department for just under a year and new at doing anything in public. Fortunately, the party was being held at the Fort Hotel (remember this is 1972) and was one of my favourite watering holes.
When I showed up in the bar I made the mistake of telling my friends what I was doing. Against my protests, they all agreed to help me get dressed but not before another round came and went. My friends dressed me and sent me in ho ho ho’ing. I neglected to tell you that I only weighed 150 pounds at that time and there was no padding with the suit. The ladies thought this was hysterical, especially my Grade 5 teacher, Mrs. Ina Adams. I made friends that night that I still call friends today.
What brought that on was a story I found from November 1970 in the Alaska Highway News and it brought back the memory of that night in 1972 when Santa came to town.
Business Women’s Week Most Rewarding
Business Women’s Week for the Fort St. John Club can be termed as one of the most rewarding in the club history. To celebrate the clubs 80th birthday Shirley Yee, the program convener, organized a very challenging, illuminating and interesting week for all past and new members.
Opening the week with a church parade at the United Church it seemed somehow fitting that the communion service, by Reverend Mark Bedford, should emphasize the brotherhood of man in preparing for the Lords Holy Supper. The BP’s felt the theme applied to them personally as their purpose sponsors world sisterhood and the need in today’s world to share the good things in life with the less fortunate. For many years BP’s the world over had worked through changes in legislation to improve employment conditions for women and were also proud of their consult status at the United Nations.
Visiting BP’s from Grande Prairie and Dawson Creek enjoyed the various functions they attended during the week. The Emblem branch on Sunday saw eight new members initiated and presented with the clubs constitution and yellow mum corsages by the club president, Billie Friend. The Tuesday night meting saw Francis Sandy awarded the honour of “Woman of the Year 1970”. Although comedienne had been listed as one of her qualifications, it was felt this was an oversight after her address to the club.
It seemed an eventful night for the BP’s when they unanimously pledged their support as a club to the Mental Health Association of Fort St. John. Mrs. Peter Frankiw (Mayor‘s wife), representing the newly formed group explained that the group hoped to start a mental health clinic in the area under the direction of Dr. Miller. Mrs. Frankiw expressed the hope that many more organizations in the area would follow the BP’s example and sponsor the much needed project.
Mrs. Molly Stark brought the club greetings from the town hall and wished the group every success in the coming year.
The evening was not all in a serious vein, although a serious purpose was accomplished. Many sides ached from the hilarious auctioneering of foods from foreign lands by club secretary Brenda Bolster, held as a salute to the United Nations’ 25th Anniversary. A sing-a-long accompanied by a birthday cake wound up a lovely evening.
Thursday night’s cocktail party at the home of Dorothy Forster ended the weeks activities. The theme communication between women’s organizations was the topic. Visiting representatives were told the aims and objectives of the BP’s, their past endeavors and future plans. The visitors explained the functions of their own organizations and projects in construction or planning stage. It was very successful and each woman there left with an awareness of what her fellow clubs were doing for the community. This was planned to be undertaken the following year on a larger scale due to the success of the venture.
Each member of the Fort St. John BP’s agreed that although it had demanded much of their time, Business Women’s Week had achieved all and even more than they had expected. Club promotion with progress and participation through working together would be the keynote as they went into their ninth year.
Other women’s clubs were active during this time, some being the Oilwives Club and the Women’s Institute who had numerous chapters around the North Peace. These clubs will be highlighted in following columns.
Larry Evans is a former fire chief, city councillor, and lifelong historian living in Fort St. John.