The IODE In Guelph 1909-1997

Author: Helen Brimmell

Publication Date: 1997

Edited: 2021



As the 20th century dawned, shaking up ideas for the new age, Margaret Polson Murray of Montreal, along with friends there and in Toronto, encouraged the formation of a federation of women to promote patriotism, loyalty to the Crown and Empire, and service to others. She sent telegrams to the mayors of Canada's major cities urging them to call together the prominent women of their communities. Her appeal was immediately popular, so much so that the first chapter of the new order was formed at Fredericton, N.B. on January 15, 1900. A red oak planted in the Provincial Legislature grounds by Fredericton members on Victoria Day, May 24, 1900, survives as one of, "The Trees of New Brunswick."


In February 1900, women reviewed a draft constitution and the aims and objectives of the national organization. They chose a name, 'Federation or the Daughters of the Empire', a motto, "For Queen and Country," along with a prayer, and a badge.


In 1901 the head office moved to Toronto, and the federation was incorporated as 'The Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire and Children of the Empire Junior Branch.' After several modifications the official name now is IODE, reflecting the waning of the Empire. The Queen remains the patron of this very patriotic women's group, which is now legally a service organization, instead of an order. In this account the variations in the name reflect the usage at the time referred to.


Primary local chapters were quickly formed across the country along with children's chapters, later called junior chapters. Guelph's first chapter, Victoria-Guelph, was formed in 1909.



The impulse which spurred this quick organization was no mere wish to, "Help the less fortunate." It was the immediate need to help the wives and children of the Canadian soldiers who were serving loyally in the Boer War, as well as the soldiers themselves. The order approached all of the soldiers' families they could locate, invited the wives to join the new organization with them, and gathered the children, both boys and girls, into junior chapters, principally in Montreal and Toronto.


IODE Fountain

The I.O.D.E. Fountain, completed in 1914, and currently located between Norfolk and Yarmouth Streets (Drawing by DIANNE LAIDLAW FORBES).


This led to the surprising sights of a dedicated vice-president of the Ontario Provincial Chapter in the 1940s, and of a regent (president) of a Saskatchewan chapter in the 1950s, both of whom were men. Each had been a member of the Toronto Junior Chapter as a child, had enjoyed the experience very much, and continued in IODE, as the provincial vice-president told me, "To help repay what the order did for my family." Except for these early members, the IODE has been an entirely female organization.


Supplying comforts to Empire, especially Canadian, forces in the Boer War was the foundation of the IODE. A monument in Bloemfontein, South Africa, honours 90 Canadian soldiers who gave their lives. The IODE raised a fund of $1,200,000, a huge sum for the time, to locate and care for their graves in perpetuity. This early commitment to improving the lives of women and children, and to our Armed Forces, has continued to be the main aim of IODE, working through a myriad of changing programs to suit the times.

 Memorial Rose Garden

Memorial Rose Garden planted by the Victoria Guelph Chapter of the IODE in May 1974, to honour Miss Madge Day. At the ceremony are, kneeling, Mrs. Taylor
(IsabeII) Evans, and Clyde M. Soule of the Guelph Horticultural Society. Standing are Mayor Norman Jary; Miss J.N. Sissions of Toronto, Miss Day's niece; Mrs. A.M. Reid, her sister; Mrs. R. W. Gladstone; and G.W. Stahlman of the parks commission (GUELPH MERCURY PHOTO).


In 1995, the last year for which figures are available, there were 9,012 members who contributed $2.7 million and 1,053,879 volunteer hours to the Canadian economy. There were 406 primary chapters across the country, nine municipal chapters, ten provincial chapters, and the National Chapter of Canada. Of these Ontario had 4,638 members, 193 primary chapters, seven municipal chapters and the Ontario Provincial Chapter.


Included in these figures were the 181 Guelph members in five chapters: Victoria-Guelph, Captain Frederick Bond, Major Robert Mutrie, Edward Johnson, and Royal Wyndham. As well as their local projects, they all contributed to provincial and national campaigns.


Nationally the IODE has instituted its War Memorial Scholarships awarded first to children of First World War servicemen who had been killed. The Second World War brought a second wave of applicants, and when they had all been looked after, the scholarships became major ones for postgraduate study. The order raised the money to buy a Bolingbroke bomber for the wartime Royal Canadian Air Force, and a second campaign is now under way to restore it for the Aviation Museum. They adopted schools, principally in the North and in Labrador, and encouraged local and provincial chapters to support experimental programs like the Genetic Counselling Program in Northern Ontario, and the Computer Enrichment Camp for exceptional (mainly deaf) children at the University of Western Ontario in London. When proved feasible, these programs were taken over by the provincial government.



Following the aims for service of the national order, and observing the unwritten, but always popular, corollary that they should have an enjoyable time doing so, the Guelph chapters have prepared grooming kits for women's shelters; knitted layettes for babies who needed them and for sale in IODE shops; welcomed immigrants; sponsored citizenship courts; organized Remembrance Day services; taught citizenship to Girl Guides and Boy Scouts, and tested for their badges; sent gifts and extra equipment to their adopted school classrooms; and sponsored women's shelters and Wyndham House for girls. They have provided scholarships to all Guelph secondary schools, prizes for the Kiwanis Music Festival, and major equipment for the hospitals. In addition, at the request of the city, the IODE has organized and been hostesses for major events.



On Saturday afternoon, December 4, 1909, a group of unmarried women gathered at the home of Evelyn Guthrie, Eramosa Street at Queen Street, to hear Miss Merritt, the national organization secretary, speak on organizing a chapter in Guelph. Before the meeting ended, Caroline Grenside was elected regent along with Caroline Forbes, first vice-regent; Evelyn Guthrie, second vice-regent; Grace Howitt, secretary; Elsie McConkey, treasurer; Gladys Chadwick, standard bearer; with Lily Nelles, T.M. Lenore Cutten, Beatrice Bethune, and Alice Mclntosh as councillors.


It was also agreed to sponsor a married women's chapter. This was later achieved when a group formed the Royal City Chapter. It disbanded a few years later and most of the members joined the Victoria-Guelph Chapter.


The name, 'Victoria-Guelph,' took some discussion at the meeting. The first choice was 'The Royal Chapter,' but lively and patriotic discussion finally led to the adoption of the name 'Victoria Guelph.' This not only honoured Queen Victoria and the Royal City of Guelph, but had also been the Good Queen's maiden name, disregarding her titles. The continuing question of whether there is a hyphen in the name is not solved by perusing the first minute book. Both forms are used there and have been ever since.


The first regular meeting was held in Carnegie Hall on December 16. Swearing that, "I declare that I am a loyal subject of His Majesty, King Edward VII, and that I will abide by the constitution of the Order," were, in addition to the officers: Effie Smith (Guelph's noted early artist), Marjorie Duff, Janet C. Malvin, Joy Ryan, Della DesCoro, Marjorie Richardson, Helena G. McLachlan, Edith Kilgour, Florence Mackinnon, G.M. Williams, Winifred Powell, Norah F. Mitchell, Laura G. Hamilton, H.L. Hill, Frances Owen Goldie, Greta Mary Crowe, Ruth M. Goldie, Mabel Helderson, Mary E. Dunbar, Helen Martin, Mary Pringle, Annie Sandilands, Joy Sandilands, Emily Smith, Lavantia Petrie, Evelyn Allan, Laura Belle Foster, Vera Ryan, Isabel Strachan, Laura L. Lyon, Frankie Allan, Marjorie Harley, Laura McLachlan, Maud White, Margaret White, Alice Higinbotham, Kathleen Lockwood, Pearl Ryan, Kathleen Howitt, Margaret A. Day, Merelie Gummer, Mabel Colson, Louise Crowe, Mary Thompson, Grace Walker, Anna L. Auld, Kate G. Watt, Dora B. Brown, Mary Jeffrey, Florence A. Murton, Lena W. Fraser and Dorothy Fraser. In addition are two names impossible to make out on the hand-signed list.


The members adopted as their motto: "Right must prevail," set their annual fee at 50 cents, and received their charter which lists the chapter as the 142nd on the register of Canada.



The members adopted, as their initial work, "The beautifying and improving of our city," as well as, "Working along philanthropic lines." And at their May 4, 1911, meeting the women voted to send $200 to the Parks Commission, "To be used in engaging a landscape gardner [sic] to plan city parks."


The city hired landscape architect Fred Todd, who landscaped all Guelph's parks, In 1910 the city had bought the Gow Estate for $4,000; it ran roughly from Gordon Street to Edinburgh Road on both sides of the Speed River. The chapter was asked to name the new park along the river and chose 'Royal City Park.' This was approved by the Board of Works in August 1911, and by City Council on August 28, 1911. The chapter had suspended meetings for the summer and there is no further mention in their records of this very first project to beautify Guelph.


At the suggestion of The Guelph Mercury, which had sent a reporter to each of the organizing and charter meetings, the group decided to install a drinking fountain for the thirsty as a tribute and remembrance of King Edward VII who had died in 1910. It was built in 1914, after the members had spent two years raising the money for it. Constructed by the city's Works Department, it cost $1,200, and was designed by architect Mr. B. Lund who was drowned before the work actually started. When the fountain was completed, a photograph of it and a letter of appreciation and condolence were sent to his family in England. The fountain sits on a stone and cement base and is topped by a charming four-gable shingled roof and a small spire, and it originally stood as a popular feature of Trafalgar Square, facing Wyndham Street.


In 1927, when Guelph's present Cenotaph was planned for Trafalgar Square, the Fountain was moved to its present location, in front of the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Dearing, between Norfolk and Yarmouth Streets. Restoration of this handsome public monument began in 1994, after careful planning by the Local Architectural Conservancy Advisory Committee, which conferred with the Victoria Guelph Chapter on all its details. Fae Jerome, the chapter archivist, supplied the Fountain's history and valuable original pictures to guide the restorers. Again, the city undertook the actual work through the Recreation and Parks Department.


The city undertook a thorough restoration of the fountain, and also landscaped the surrounding area with walkways, raised beds of tulips, and benches. When Mayor Joe Young unveiled a plaque designating the IODE Fountain as an item of architectural and historical interest to the City of Guelph on June 7, 1995, the area across from the main Public Library became a beauty spot for everyone. The Fountain restoration was a highlight of the chapter's 85th anniversary celebration in December 1994.


An account of the IODE Fountain, as it is called on its original brass plaque, is included in the LACAC book, Designated Buildings and Structures of Architectural and Historic Interest in the City of Guelph 1977-1994.



The chapter was hostess to three governors-general. Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, favourite son of Queen Victoria, and his wife, Princess Louise of Prussia, visited Guelph on May 30, 1912, accompanied by their beautiful daughter, Princess Patricia. On June 13, 1918, the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire were entertained at tea. Another tea was held at Vimy Ridge Farm when Lord Willingdon visited Guelph. The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, visited on October 21, 1919, and two members of the chapter gave an address during the welcoming ceremony.


The chapter met regularly in Carnegie Hall on the first Thursday afternoon of the month at three o'clock. They also met at the Armoury, City Hall and, for emergency meetings, at the Registry Office, the chapter-sponsored Tea Room and Williams Store. They now, along with the Captain Frederick Bond and Major Robert Mutrie Chapters, meet at Dublin Street United Church. The other chapters meet in members' homes.


In its early days the chapter ran a Tea Room. Unfortunately, the records do not show where it was, but there are many entries recording the need for new curtains and details of staffing, etc.


On December 13, 1934, they sponsored special showings, both matinee and evening, of The Return of Bulldog Drummond at the Capitol Theatre with Ralph Richardson in the title role, with a Silly Symphony and, "Exclusive pictures of the Royal Wedding" (the Duke of Kent and Princess Marina of Greece).


On April 30, 1936, the chapter continued its theatrical fundraising by sponsoring a performance of Outward Bound by Sutton Vane, produced by the Guelph Little Theatre, and presented in the City Hall Auditorium. Their main fund-raiser now is their annual Cornucopia Bazaar and Tea in October.


In 1935, the chapter's scrapbook was awarded top prize at the annual meeting of the National Chapter, Imperial Order, Daughters of the Empire, held in Ottawa. Mrs. James Ince, national president gave the chapter an engraved rosewood gavel which is still in regular use. Mrs. William Dawson, chapter secretary, prepared this winning book and also the book which won the award for the best scrapbook at the annual meeting of the Ontario Chapter in Hamilton in 1936. Both books are valued items in the chapter's archives.


In 1935, Branch 234, Canadian Legion (before it was 'Royal') gave the chapter a gavel made of wood from the first house built in Guelph, The Priory, which was constructed of logs.


A bed of IODE roses was planted in Royal City Park, in 1974. It was placed beside Water Street at the foot of Mary Street, to honour Margaret Agusta (Madge) Day, a founding chapter member, and former division court clerk and law librarian. She was represented by her sister, Mrs. A.M. Reid, and her niece, Miss J.N. Sissons of Toronto. A member of an old Guelph family, Miss Day had been living in Toronto, but returned for special chapter functions when her health permitted.


A hardy Canadian-bred red floribunda, the IODE rose was developed and sold to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the IODE. The bed now has a large, "Welcome to Guelph" sign behind it. The project was planned by past regent Mrs. D.L.G. (Eleanor) Turvey, regent Mrs. Douglas (Alice) Sloan and rose convener Mrs. Taylor (Isabell) Evans. The event marked the chapter's 75th anniversary.



Miss Emma Frances Holliday, who was regent of the Victoria Guelph chapter for 19 years, encouraged the formation of the Captain Frederick Bond Chapter in 1920. She was also instrumental in forming the Macdonald Hall Chapter, which was in existence for 15 years before it disbanded. Mrs. R. Mutrie, regent for four years, helped organize the Major Robert Mutrie Chapter in 1939. In 1959 this chapter encouraged the founding of the Edward Johnson Chapter. All of them helped Royal Wyndham Chapter get going in 1985.



The Guelph Evening Mercury and Advertiser, to give the newspaper its full name at the time, reported on Saturday, December 4, 1920, under, "News of Interest to Women":


"Mrs. Malcolmson of St. Catherines, organizing secretary of the
I.O.D.E., was in the city on Thursday to organize a new chapter of
the order. The meeting was held at the home of Mrs. J.J. Drew
where Mrs. Malcolmson gave a short address on the aims and
formation of the order. The new branch is to be called the Captain
Frederick Bond Chapter. The honourary regents are Miss
Holliday and Mrs. Drew who were instrumental in forming the
chapter. The regent is Miss Dorothy Drew; first vice-regent, Miss
Pauline Hayes; second vice-regent, Miss Grace Roberts; treasurer,
Miss Alice Collins, and secretary, Miss Guinevere Taylor. Miss
Bertha Yates is standard bearer, Miss Dolly Pequegnat [sic], education
secretary, and Miss Alice Buckingham, Echoes secretary. This
chapter has a good measure of youth and enthusiasm and should
accomplish much."


A third sponsor was Mrs. W George Bond, mother of Captain Frederick Bond. She was named honourary regent in the first days of the chapter, along with Mrs. R. Brydon, Mrs. H. Roberts, Mrs. A. Scott, and Mrs. G. Johnstone. Mrs. A.H.C. Kennedy was made honourary vice-regent.


The chapter received its charter December 13, 1920, its gavel, made by Mr. J. Hill, in 1937, and its Canadian flag April 8, 1969. This was the gift of Miss Alice Scott in memory of her sister, Mrs. H.B. Tolton. Both were past regents.


Captain Frederick George Bond, M.C. and Bar., was born in Guelph January 29, 1893, the son of Mr. and Mrs. W. George Bond. After attending public and secondary schools he was on the staff of Bond Hardware and Taylor-Forbes. When the 16th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery, was formed, he immediately joined and received his commission. He was at Camp Petawawa when war was declared on August 4, 1914, and volunteered for active service at once. He went overseas in 1915. Later that year he was wounded, and when in hospital in England, met King George V and Queen Mary. He returned to the Front and fought at Passchendaele where he was fatally wounded. He died October 29, 1917.


The other officers who had left Guelph with the 16th Battery were Major Will Simpson, by that time a lieutenant colonel and in charge of Witley Barracks in England; Captain Arthur Brown, then in England; and Lieutenant George A. Drew, who was on leave recovering from wounds. Lieutenant Sil MacLachlan had been killed. So Captain Bond, who had been promoted only a month before, was the only one of the original officers left in the unit. In early 1917, he had been awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous acts of bravery during heavy fighting at the Battle of Vimy Ridge; a short time later he received a bar to the cross.


The headstone from his grave in Belgium, subscribed by funds raised by the 16th Battery from their pay allowances, was not uniform with other stones in the cemetery, being larger than what was later stipulated by the War Graves Commission. The stone was brought to Guelph and placed in the Bond plot in Woodlawn Cemetery. The Royal Women's Institute, through their Tweedsmuir History, were of great help in locating pictures of its original location.


Mrs. George Bond had the honour of unveiling the Guelph war memorial, the Cenotaph on Trafalgar Square, in 1927. The chapter places flowers in St. George's Anglican Church on the anniversary of Captain Bond's birthday each year.



In 1921 the first formal budget of the Captain Frederick Bond Chapter totalled $83.60. In 1996, the group gave $15,000 to the Guelph hospitals to buy equipment and increased their 18 scholarships to the secondary schools to $200 each. This gratifying increase has come about from their sole fund raiser, The Opportunity Shop, now located at Speedvale Plaza and stocking 'gently used' donated clothing and small household goods. After pursuing several other money-raising activities, the chapter established their shop July 2,1942, on Macdonell Street. When that building was to be demolished in 1980, to make way for the Eaton Centre complex, the shop was moved to the Barber building at Suffolk and Yorkshire Streets, and then to its present location in April of 1995.


In 1979 the chapter added up its revenue over the years and discovered they had raised $162,659.23 from their shop. The members have called it, with reason, "A little gold mine." The shop received a City of Guelph Business Award in 1993 in recognition of its long term of service to the city.



At 10 o'clock on the morning of November 11, the members of the city's five IODE chapters, with their guests and the official party from the city's Remembrance Day ceremony, gather at the IODE Cross of Sacrifice, beside the VIA Rail Station, for a special ceremony.


They have been doing this since the unveiling and dedication of the Cross on Empire Day, May 24, 1925, to honour Guelph servicemen who made the supreme sacrifice in The Great War of 1914 to 1918. It was a project of the Victoria Guelph Chapter with the cooperation of the new Captain Frederick Bond Chapter, chartered in 1920.


The Cross of Sacrifice preceded the city's own war memorial in Trafalgar Square, which was unveiled as part of Guelph's centennial celebrations in 1927. The shaft of the granite Cross rises out of a wide base; it is gothic in design and shows a relief of a Crusader's sword. Miss Alice Scott, of the Captain Frederick Bond Chapter, presented the sword in memory of her brother, Flight-Lieutenant Gordon Scott.


IODE Cross

IODE Cross of Sacrifice,
dedicated in 1924, and located
beside the VIA Rail Station (Drawing by HELEN BRIMMELL).


The site for the memorial was given by Sir Henry Thornton, president of the Canadian National Railways, in a lease for 25 years with a payment of one dollar every five years. Permission to erect the Cross was sought from the Imperial War Graves Commission in England, through its representative in Canada, Colonel H.C. Osborn of Ottawa. Sir Fabian Ware, head of the commission, visited Guelph after the dedication and delivered an address in War Memorial Hall about the monument.


The dedication ceremony was an impressive one, with a parade from the Armoury, military and civic bands, choirs, and a large attendance. R.H. Fish, general superintendent for southwestern Ontario of the Canadian National Railways, on whose land the Cross stood, spoke of their pleasure at the installation. Colonel Osborn gave a stirring address on the need to honour the memory of those who fell. Mrs. R.L. Torrance, regent of the Victoria Guelph Chapter, unveiled the Cross which was then dedicated by Archdeacon A.C. Mackintosh of Dundas. Major-General J.H. MacBrien, chief of staff at the Department of National Defence, spoke for the Government of Canada, praising the contribution of Guelph and Wellington County to the war effort, and of the IODE for their work on the home front.


Members of the two chapters, and relatives and friends of the fallen, placed wreaths at the base of the Cross. Today this tradition continues, with the chapters placing wreaths on Remembrance Day; one from the Provincial Chapter of Ontario is laid by a local provincial officer. Then the party moves on to Memorial Gardens for the city's Remembrance Day ceremony, and the chapter regents again lay wreaths at the Cenotaph.


Victoria Guelph Chapter continues to maintain the Cross of Sacrifice through an arrangement with the city's Recreation and Parks Department. There is no record of the end of the obligation to pay one dollar every five years to the Canadian National Railways, but it is no longer paid. Perhaps after the stated 25 years the CNR quietly ended it.



Quoting from The Guelph Mercury of October 26, 1939:


"A group of younger girls of the town have been invited to come to the home of Mrs. J. Arthur Wells on Queen Street to discuss the advisability of forming another chapter of the Imperial Order, Daughters of the Empire. It is hoped that the idea will be met with enthusiasm and that the girls who are meeting this evening will go ahead with the necessary plans and will be able to gather a membership of at least 20 girls of about the same age and interest."


The 13 girls organized the new group as the Colonel John McCrae Chapter. They elected Alice parker as regent; Eleanor Colson as first vice-regent; Marie Barry as second vice-regent; Barbara Biddulph, secretary; Ruth Wilkinson, treasurer; Gwen Marsland, education secretary; and. Margaret Rudell as standard bearer and Echoes secretary. Others attending the meeting were Peggy Scott, Twink Baker, Joyce Wells, Ann Howitt, Betty Dodds and Nancy Canfield. At the following meeting four new members were sworn in: Grace Davidson, Betty Cosford, Gwen Husson and Christie Yeates.


They soon found they would have to choose another name, as there was already a Colonel John McCrae Chapter in Montreal. Guelph's famed soldier-doctor-poet of the First World War, who composed the definitive war poem "In Flanders Fields," was just as famed in Montreal where he had studied and taught at McGill University and had been in practice.

As the chapter history reports:


"The new name, Major Robert Mutrie, was one of distinction. Member of a Guelph family which had served the Empire in military duty for several generations, he gave his life in The Great War. His father, Colonel John Mutrie, served in the Fenian Raids, was colonel of the 30th Wellington Rifles, served as a recruiting officer for Wellington County, enlisting some 5,000 men. Major Robert Mutrie, who was second-in-command of the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles - in the words of the Duke of Windsor, 'one of the finest regiments ever to cross the sea' - was killed in action and buried in Poperinghe [sic] Cemetery in Belgium. In the present war he had had two sons in the 11th Field Ambulance: Captain Eric Mutrie and Captain R.R. Mutrie."


The new chapter immediately set about raising money and preparing articles required by the Red Cross. Their first venture was a bridge afternoon, and this proved so popular that it has continued, with their Geranium Lunches and Bridge, to be a major fund-raiser. Rummage sales, and later garage sales, have also been successful.



The first official meeting of the fourth Guelph IODE chapter, named for Edward Johnson, was held November 9, 1949, at the home of Avis Black with eleven present. Mrs. Helen Harrison presided and outlined the objects of the order. The group had no difficulty picking the name of another famous Guelphite for their chapter. Dr. Edward Johnson, renowned operatic tenor and manager of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, was born and grew up in Guelph and maintained a home here. Later a Guelph elementary school was named for him.


The first executive was headed by Avis Black as regent, with Valerie Wells as first vice-regent, Mary Jane Hawkins as second viceregent, Marguerite Grigg as secretary, Pat Duthie as treasurer, Joyce Doney as education secretary, Evelyn Goad as Echoes secretary, Molly Staynor as standard bearer, and councillors Mary Halfnight, Doris Washington, and Connie Northey. Mrs. Harrison and Mrs. W.J. Kay were named honourary regents.


The chapter received its charter December 7,1949. The bestowal ceremony formed part of the annual Founder's Day program, a dinner in the Elizabeth Room of the Royal Hotel marking the 50th anniversary of the IODE.


This chapter has provided major equipment for the Guelph General Hospital, prizes for the Kiwanis Music Festival and scholarships for College Heights Secondary School; it has supported many groups, including New Beginnings, Home Care, Wellington County substance abuse counselling, nursing homes, Women in Crisis, Meals-on-Wheels, and the Red Cross; and it regularly provides funds for talking books for the Public Library.


The Edward Johnson chapter has distinctive means of raising money. In line with the unofficial but well-observed IODE rule that fund-raising should be not only successful but also enjoyable for the members, they hold bees to produce 'Creations,' the popular note cards which are their most successful project. They also produce and raffle a 'money tree' at Christmas, make and sell 'oat collars' to relieve pain, and collect and redeem Zehrs tapes.



The fifth of Guelph's chapters was founded on June 24, 1985, and named Royal Wyndham Chapter: 'Royal' for the Royal City of Guelph and 'Wyndham' for the main downtown street named for Colonel the Right Honourable William Wyndham, secretary in the Pitt cabinet in Britain. This street was the first in Guelph to be paved.


The founding executive were Suzanne Longpre, regent; Helen Oates, vice-regent; Carolyn Bacher, secretary; Nancy Eleveld, treasurer; Carol Percival, membership; Bev Thompson, education; Nancy Irvings, Echoes; Debbie Shore, services; Cheryl Bennett, citizenship, Elona Dyck, public relations; Audrey Lounder, standard bearer; and Debbie Baker, corresponding secretary. The chapter received its charter in a ceremony at City Hall.


The chapter now has 16 members and has adopted the Peenamin McKenzie Elementary School in Labrador through the IODE's Adopt-a-School program. Their local projects include help for Wyndham House, Discovery House, the Canadian Mental Health residence, Victim Services, and Family and Children's Services; they provide a bursary for College Heights Secondary School, a prize for the Kiwanis Music Festival, and equipment for the General Hospital.


To fund these projects, they have held garage sales, raffles, craft sales and bazaars. They have also issued a cookbook, and organized Treat Yourself Royally days. The group's most recent fund-raiser was their most active and most successful: a car wash.



IODE is the largest non-denominational women's service organization in Canada, and its contributions to Canadian life are a list of all major projects for women, children, and the armed services.


The Guelph chapters have been generous with their contributions and have also developed some special IODE activities of their own. Their celebration of Founder's Day, February 13, is unique in the province and perhaps in the whole country. It is recorded back as far as 1938 that the existing chapters honoured the day by holding a dinner in formal style, at which long gowns were worn. Since the Second World War, the observance has been at a luncheon attended by the provincial president, and members of Thistle Chapter in Fergus and Lakeside Chapter in Acton.


They have also contributed to the city by acting as hostesses. On October 20, 1967, the IODE were the organizers of the Centennial Ball in Guelph, held at the Armoury with Lieutenant Governor Earl Rowe as guest of honour. Mary Burgess was the general convener.


When Guelph planned the celebration of its 150th anniversary on April 23, 1977, it turned at once to the IODE to organize the grand banquet and ball, to be held that evening in the Athletics Centre of the University of Guelph. Mrs. Roderick (Lourene) Scott of the Edward Johnson Chapter chaired the committee of 1-6, representing all four chapters. She was also a member of the 150th Anniversary Committee and helped coordinate the whole day's activities.


The Honourable Dr. Pauline McGibbon, Ontario's lieutenant governor, was the guest of honour. The waitresses from the University of Guelph Food Services wore suitable period costume; the special wine glasses, donated jointly by Food Services and the IODE, were kept by many as souvenirs. Guests were greeted by pipers from the Guelph Pipe Band, who also piped in the head table guests. Scott Pembleton played during dinner, and guests later danced to the music of the Canadian Armed Forces Band. The splendid centrepiece was a model of the Priory, Guelph's first building, made of cake icing over a frame.


Pauline McGibbon

Lieutenant-Governor Pauline McGibbon cut the 150th anniversary cake at the banquet and ball April 23, 1997, with Mayor Norman Jary assisting. The sword is the ceremonial one which once belonged to Mayor Robert Mutrie.


The crowning moment came when the lieutenant governor cut the anniversary cake using the ceremonial sword, once the property of Major Robert Mutrie. The sword had been borne in by members of the Cadet Corps.


"Tickets were $30 a couple, it was a black-tie affair and to recover costs we needed to sell 1,000 tickets, so we were a little nervous," said Mrs. Scott. There was no need to worry. The grand ball was oversold within a week. The profit of $2,300 was donated to Guelph's future art museum, which opened in 1980 as the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre.


The IODE was again asked to organize a major civic event in the Bicentennial Ball, in honour of Ontario's 200th birthday, which took place October 19, 1984, at the Col. John McCrae Legion Hall. The Lieutenant Governor and Mrs. John Black Aird were the guests of honour.


Mrs. T.D. (Mary) Burgess of the Major Robert Mutrie Chapter was general convener, with Muriel Fearnall, Nora Stoskop, Joanne Sullivan, Shirley Clark, Doris Wilkinson, Jean Burrill, Marion Sullivan, Isabell Evans, Edith Fisher, Nancy Thompson, and Diana Ford on the committee, with Lourene Scott as treasurer.


Earlier the IODE had gained plenty of experience organizing balls. From the 1930s they had arranged annual charity balls which got the city's fall season off to a gala start. Often held at the Armoury, they were sometimes named 'The Harvest Ball,' sometimes 'The Fall Frolic.' Each was popular and enjoyable and also raised money for the IODE's programs.


One particularly memorable Harvest Ball took place at Paradise Garden on Woodlawn Road in the fall of 1954 and had an unexpected and unwelcome guest: Hurricane Hazel, a fierce tropical storm which ploughed inland from the Caribbean doing enormous damage. Did it daunt the IODE hostess and their guests? Not on your life! "We just put buckets on the floor of Paradise Gardens to catch the many drips and we danced around them," recalled Mary Burgess of that evening.


Besides receiving the profit from the Sesquicentennial Ball in 1977, the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre benefitted from another $10,000 donation from the four IODE chapters, and their names are inscribed under the centre's list of 'Founders.' Most recently the chapters, now five, have donated $11,000 to the General Hospital's CT Scanner campaign.


Beyond their local service, outstanding members have also served on the executive of the National and Ontario Provincial Chapters. Mrs. W.V. Harcourt, of the Victoria Guelph Chapter, was a provincial councillor in the 1940s. Eleanor Turvey, also a past regent of the chapter, was a provincial councillor and provincial citizenship secretary. Mrs. G. Davidson, of Captain Frederick Bond Chapter, served on the provincial council in the 1930s, and was followed by Margaret McFaddin and Jean Burrill. Diana Ford of the Edward Johnson Chapter followed them in the early 1980s. Mary Burgess, who by then held double membership in both Major Robert Mutrie and Victoria Guelph Chapters, was national services secretary and a provincial councillor in the early 1990s and continues on the provincial executive.



This account of the activities of the five IODE chapters in Guelph is, of necessity, a short one. It was important to record their founding, for whom they were named and why, and their activities, but many details had to be omitted in doing so. An item-by-item list of all the charitable projects the IODE members have undertaken over the years would take double this amount of space.

The reason for their activities is summed up in the IODE statement of purpose:


"The mission of IODE, a Canadian women's charitable organization, is to improve the quality of life for children, youth, and those in need, through educational, social service and citizenship programs."




Original insignia of The Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (left); current insignia of the IODE (right).




A volunteer organization with no permanent premises often has difficulty keeping track of its records so I am deeply grateful to lsabell Evans, a past regent of the Victoria Guelph Chapter of the IODE, who recently was able to track down the chapter's first minute book, from 1909 to 1916. Without it, this history would not have been possible. The extensive scrapbooks of the chapter, going back to 1934, provided valuable material on all chapters.


Similarly, the early records of Major Robert Mutrie Chapter disappeared, and Mrs. W.A. (Alice) Kloepfer, assisted by Mrs. W.F. (Muriel) Fearnall, carefully transcribed accounts of the chapter over its first five years from The Daily Mercury. Mrs. Fearnall kindly contributed a copy of this transcript. Regent Mary Maxwell and vice-regent Mary Burgess provided other material.


Archivist Margaret Fraser and regent Bernice Sells of the Captain Frederick Bond Chapter provided their history. Regent Sheila Farley of Edward Johnson Chapter provided that chapter's highlights, as did Joanne Fahy, regent and communications secretary for the Royal Wyndham Chapter, for hers.


IODE - A History in Step with Canada's 20th Century, the national history, provided background as did Echoes, the IODE magazine.


The account of the man who was Ontario provincial vice-president and his information on how he, his mother and his sister had been invited into Toronto's first chapters, is from my own experience talking with him. Unfortunately, I made no record of his name and now cannot locate it.


When he learned of this project of recording IODE's history, Ross Irwin, president of the Guelph Historical Society, kindly shared information on the very first project by the Victoria Guelph Chapter, which he had found in the city archives when researching another topic.


The chronology of Guelph events in the Guelph Evening Mercury and Advertiser, Wednesday, July 30, 1927, listed some in which the IODE took part. The reference librarians at the Guelph Public Library were helpful in adding details.


The drawing of the IODE Fountain is by Diane Laidlaw Forbes, daughter of Victoria Guelph Chapter regent Marie Laidlaw. The drawing of the Cross of Sacrifice is by myself.