Author awarded medal by U.S. group for work on women’s history

You might think the British vibe of a place like Victoria would be distasteful to an organization whose members are all descended from American Revolutionaries.

But the president general of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the largest lineage-based women’s organization in the world, said she was looking forward to a walk through Butchart Gardens and high tea at the Fairmont Empress.

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In fact, Lynn Forney Young didn’t even consider as a blood rival a reporter whose uncle was president of his local chapter of the United Empire Loyalists, a Canadian club dedicated to the memory of Americans loyal to the Crown during the American Revolution.

“Oh no, no,” Young, a native Texan said, just outside the entrance to Butchart Gardens on Saturday. She even met with Queen Elizabeth on April 1, as part of a project to digitize King George III’s archives.

How times have changed.

Young was in Victoria to present local author and historian Merna Forster with the Daughters of the American Revolution Historic Preservation Medal for her work preserving the histories of Canadian women.

“It’s a medal for someone who has done extraordinary work in the area of historic preservation. It’s very difficult to win approval for the medal,” Young said.

Forster is the author of 100 Canadian Heroines and 100 More Canadian Heroines. She has advocated for increased representation of women on Canadian bank notes.

The Daughters of the American Revolution formed in 1890 and has spread to 13 countries and one U.S. territory, overseas units chairwoman Virginia Lingelbach said. It counts 180,000 members worldwide.

While members are required to have an ancestor who served the American cause during the revolution — from fighting and providing supplies to signing an oath of allegiance — much of the group’s activities have to do with community service.

The first year they started collectively logging community-service hours, they more than quadrupled their goal of one million.

You may think a lineage-based organization is inherently elitist, but Young said that’s not the case.

“Perhaps in the early days, it may have been conceived as an elitist organization, but it certainly is not now. We come from all walks of life, all economic backgrounds and political persuasions and interests,” she said.

Their motto is “God, Home and Country,” but they respect patriotism within other countries and aren’t affiliated with a particular religion, the women said.

“I think the biggest challenge for many societies, and particularly DAR, is to continue to evolve and stay relevant,” Young said. “I believe we have managed to do that.”

asmart@timescolonist.com

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