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Hands Across The Border

It wasn’t just coffee you went for with the TWI’s women’s club – there were so many things like the Children’s Hospital that they supported and anything going on with the community the TWI got behind it. The new highway was put in, and everybody was right there adding their voice to it – and maybe it didn’t do any good, but it was done – we were vocal.

Betty Sinclair – TWI Member/Grasmere Historian and Librarian

Grasmere, Roosville, Newgate – these are all communities very close to the 49th parallel – the International Border. Trade, commerce, and friendship took the Triangle Women’s Institute (TWI) members frequently down to small Montana towns like Eureka, Rexford, and Fortine. Business and pleasure brought U.S. citizens up to dances, cattle sales, Christmas tree sales, and many other things.

Shortly after forming, the TWI began petitioning the Canadian and U.S. governments for enhanced border service. As a result, dances and suppers in Grasmere and Waldo went on after official border closings, and many of those attending were U.S. citizens.

Organized meetings between groups like the Fernie and Eureka Red Cross societies to increase efforts during World War II commenced. After the war, extended Friday night openings were negotiated to increase attendance at community dances.

After all, these were neighbours. In addition, high school students crossed the border to attend school in Eureka.

By 1948 members of the Triangle Women’s Institute were traveling by car (four cars) to Rexford, Montana, to be guests of the Helping Each Other (HEO) Club. Following a delicious luncheon, on one such occasion, and participating in a short entertainment program, the group was addressed by Mrs. W. Brownlie from Scotland – on conditions in her native land, rationing, and the extreme prices for clothing.

This initiated an international exchange among like-minded women that lasted for many years. The contacts were invaluable in negotiating achievements such as the cross-border electrical power-sharing agreement with the Lincoln Electric Co-op in Eureka.

The outreach of the TWI did not stop there. During World War II, this small group supported the Chinese relief fund, Aid For Russia, the Greek Relief Fund, and the Jam for Britain fund – to name only a few. Later that same care extended to Hungarian Food Relief and work with UNESCO.

Shortly after the war, the Institute adopted the Little Hereford Women’s Institute in England, sending food, clothing, handicrafts, and emotional support to a like-minded group in war-savaged Britain. They also reached further, sending delegates to the Associated Country Women of the World and as far away as Ceylon, India.

The TWI fostered children and families in Thailand, Africa, and the Philippines. In addition, the TWI has continuously formed a bond between city and countrywomen worldwide in line with the Women’s International movement.