There are many projects that the Triangle Women’s Institute has embraced and sustained over many years, nurturing a unique sense of community. Education has always been a central tenet of their philosophy and action.
As well as embracing the struggle of sustaining the rural schools early on, the TWI undertook the support of a local library.
Alice Embree Sinclair, home-educated for much of her schooling, started the first Grasmere library on the Sinclair ranch in her home.
It started as two small shelves of books which became a gathering spot for her friends and neighbours, in much the same way as the sewing circle that birthed the Triangle Women’s Institute, of which she was a charter member.
By 1942 an arrangement had been reached with the Public Library Commission to supply books to the South Country, and the library moved to the Blacks’ store with Mrs. Black as librarian.
As the years passed, the Triangle Women’s Institute worked with the rural schools in the South Country, building school libraries at the same time as they improved the Reading Centre collections.
The Institute members believed that a library is one of the central building blocks of community.
Today people are largely born digital. When thinking of the Grasmere Reading Centre, it is good to remember that the area served by the facility still does not have quick, reliable internet access.
By 1960 the Public Library Commission, as an arm of the Provincial Government, was convinced to sponsor a community library in Grasmere. They proposed to keep the library in the United Church as it was a heated building, with the Grasmere TWI ladies maintaining it.
With the Pioneer Hall completed in 1972, the library eventually shifted to that building. The 2004 addition to that building provided the library with a permanent home as an ongoing project of the Triangle Women’s Institute.
School use increased over time, and Story Time was introduced along with a Summer Reading Program. Betty Sinclair, the librarian since 1981, retired in 1994. Bonnie Crosson, her long-time assistant, assumed the librarianship and continues to serve in that position.
The Grasmere Reading Centre is a local gateway to knowledge and culture, offering free educational resources to everyone. It also works to preserve the region’s history in its collections. In so many ways, the Reading Centre is a manifestation of many of the basic principles of the Women’s Institutes movement.