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Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada decides to keep Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Homestead

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The Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada (FWIC) has decided to keep not sell the Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Homestead.

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The organization’s board of directors has voted in favour of keeping the homestead, a part of Brant County’s history, located at 359 Blue Lake Road, St. George.

“The change in their decision was the result of the tremendous response and outpouring of offers for help and support from the community, WI members, WI branches and Brant County,” the FWIC said in a statement released Tuesday night. “The FWIC has operated the Homestead for more than 60 years and would like to continue to do so into the future.”

The FWIC values the contributions made by Adelaide Hoodless to the community and to the Women’s Institute.

However, keeping the homestead, a national historic site and museum, will require the commitment ad financial support from the community, WI members and Brant County, the statement said.

“With the increasing costs of operations, FWIC/WI Canada cannot do it alone,” the FWIC’s board said in the statement.

The homestead was put on the market for $949,750 just over a month ago. The decision to sell was made “with a heavy heart” but faced with years of operating at a deficit, the FWIC believed it had no choice but to sell the homestead.

The homestead relies on fund-raising events, including an annual Easter egg hunt that, during good weather, brought hundreds of people to the historic grounds. But the hunt has been hampered by bad weather in recent years and was cancelled because of the pandemic.

It costs about $25,000 a year to operate the homestead, which is in need of maintenance, including a new roof.

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Hunter Hoodless is credited as co-founder of the Women’s Institute, the Young Women’s Christian Association, the National Council of Women and the Victorian Order of Nurses.

The homestead was built in 1832 by John Bray, a Loyalist and veteran of the War of 1812.

David Hunter, Adelaide’s father, purchased the home in 1853, four years before her birth. The home remained in the Hunter family until 1906.

It was purchased by the Federated Women’s Institute of Canada in 1959 and restored to appear as it would have during the time when Adelaide lived there.

Hunter Hoodless, called “one the most famous Canadian women, yet one of the most obscure,” by her biographer, was born on Feb. 27, 1857 and raised at the homestead in what was then an isolated farming area. Her public life began after she became a wife and mother. It was instigated by a tragic event: her fourth child died of what was then called a “stomach complaint.” He had likely consumed contaminated milk.

Seeming to blame herself for this tragedy, Hunter Hoodless started a campaign to raise the level of education for girls and to put supports in place for women so that they could safeguard their families.

She was a major force behind the formation of three faculties of Household Science and achieved national recognition in her 20 years of public life. She died in 1910.

The Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Homestead was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1995 Most of the furnishings in the home were donated by Women’s Institute members. The only original pieces were given to the homestead by Muriel Bostwick, granddaughter of Hunter Hoodless, who has since died. Adelaide now has no surviving direct descendants

The Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada is a national network for women and families to promote leadership and personal development opportunities through education, advocacy and fellowship.

For more information please visit the website: www.fwic.ca

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