The Women's Institute of Renata

August 13th, 2020 1 Minutes

The Women’s Institute (W.I.) movement began in Ontario in 1897 and has grown to be a global movement that is still active today. The goal of the organization is to provide women with educational opportunities and to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities.

The Women’s Institute of Renata (W.I.) was founded in 1948 by Mrs. Peter Warkentin. It played an essential role in Renata’s history.

Renata Cemetery Collection # 0131.0070

Fundraising and serving the community through various projects, including the buying of folding chairs for social events and purchasing a projector to show movies of the National Film Board, were part of the W.I.’s mandate. Other accomplishments included a lending library, furnishing a ward at the Castlegar General Hospital, and setting up a First Aid Station in Renata.

The Renata Ferry Collection #0131.0071

Improved ferry operations were needed on the Arrow Lakes as the S.S. Minto ceased its service, and the members of the W.I. worked toward establishing a new government ferry. They lobbied the Department of Highways to discontinue the toll and requested for more extended summer operations. Both requests were granted.

Following suit, the Institute asked for an extension of the road from Renata to Broadwater. They spoke with MLA, Mr. Robert Sommers. He replied, “there isn’t that kind of money.” To which Mrs. Warkentin answered, “Not for three miles? Mr. Sommers then spoke to the Minister of Highways, and the road was completed.

The group also appealed to the West Kootenay Power Commission repeatedly for electricity as one of their undertakings. The appeal was denied, but it possibly foreshadowed the arrival of the High Arrow Dam (later called the Hugh Keenleyside Dam).

The W.I. was disbanded in 1965 when Renata relocated to prepare the dam and its reservoir.

The Renata General Store Collection #0461.0006


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