MILLET CELEBRATES ITS PIONEER WOMEN

 Among the trailblazers who chopped, sawed and sculpted the untouched wilderness of Alberta into homes, villages, crop fields and gardens, were the pioneer women whose contributions to the opening of the prairie west were momentous and vast, yet their roles in history were often minimalized.  Undaunted, they took on the arduous challenges of the day, quietly, more concerned with the tasks at hand than being applauded. For many years women and their valuable work, support and influence on the shaping of our province, remained in the background.
 Today, we celebrate women's roles down through history, acknowledging the impact of their work and the multitude of ways in which women have enriched the growth of our province, communities and culture.
 On Saturday, June 11, Millet Museum celebrated Millet's Pioneer Women Exhibit Opening.  Paying tribute to nine very special women whose efforts and contributions have played a huge part in building the community of Millet, the celebration began at 1:00 p.m. where over 200 dignitaries, family and friends gathered at the Agriplex to greet the honoured guests.
 Tracey Leavitt, Executive Director/Curator of the Millet Museum, welcomed everyone.  "As coordinator of the Millet's Pioneer Exhibit, I have gained more insight about the many women that contributed and continue to make Millet a better community since the project's inception last summer," said Tracey, "a project that, as part of the Central Alberta Regional Museums Network, a group of about 47 museums initiated a research project called the Women of Aspenland."  The exhibit was to portray the history, biographies, politics and family life of Central Alberta Women. 
Thanks to the Wetaskiwin Heritage Museum and their ongoing permanent exhibit honouring four local women each year, Millet Museum was able to use their template and create the Millet Pioneer Women exhibit to celebrate their own local womens' contributions. 
 Leavitt explained that although museum collections typically have domestic artifacts collections, for example, the women and girls who once used the particular items are not mentioned nor described.  Recorded history rarely mentions the 'average' women like mothers, daughters, caregivers, teachers and nurses nor their significant contributions to communities.  "The Exhibit begins to give these women their rightful place and makes them visible so that their stories can help us to understand the larger Canadian story,' said the Curator.

The nine pioneer women being honoured are:

• Winnifred Ross   
• Jean Scott
• Jean Thompson   
• Marguerite Josephine
• Anna Kruger     • Muriel Smith
• Dorothy Trathen   
• Ruth Howes
• Helen Moonen

 The ladies each had their stories, where they grew up, what life was like, and what they did with it.  For example, Jean Scott recalls, as most of the women did, walking to school every day, two miles one way.  Graduating from high school, Jean attended school in Edmonton to become a teacher.  As World War I was underway there was a severe teacher shortage, so before Jean finished her training she was sent to Worsely, northern Alberta, where she taught in a log school house.  Today, Jean is very active in the community of Millet, has written history books, volunteers at the museum and served as Museum President for nine years.
 Anna Kruger became an entrepreneur in a time when opportunity was scarce.  Anna obtained her Professional Seamstress Certificate in Warsaw, Poland in 1928.  Anna and husband, Gustav, decided to immigrate to Canada in hope of finding employment.  Helping to support the family by taking in small sewing jobs, Anna soon found a demand for a seamstress in Millet, and turned her sewing talents into a thriving business.
 Helen Moonen, too, became a teacher, and soon after, married husband Henry.  Helen felt a strong desire to educate women in the area about nutrition, food processing and the need for helping with the war effort.  In 1937, Helen Moonen organized the Lady Tweedsmuir Women's Institute to help educate farm women, then went on to found the Golden Glow Women's Institute in 1945.  Helen was also involved with the Red Cross Society, Home and School Association, the Alberta Lily Society and the Millet and District Historical Society.
 Dorothy Trathen was born and raised in Millet, married husband, Ralph, in 1937 and had five children.  Dorothy's contributions to the Town of Millet are many.  Her love of writing likely played a part in her future as the editor of the Millet Tellim Newspaper.  Dorothy also started up Millet's first Boy Scouts Cub Pack and was Cubmaster for a decade.   She joined the Rebekah Lodger #112, of the Independent Order of Oddfellows in '43, and became District Deputy President three times.  Because of Dorothy's many contributions to the betterment of the Millet Community, she was nominated for the "Celebrate 88" Award and received a number of awards of distinction. 
 Jo and John Moonen farmed land for many years near Millet, which eventually was sold and developed, now known as Moonen Heights.  Jo was an active volunteer at the Millet Museum and has been recognized for her Lifetime Commitment from the Millet and District Historical Society and from the Millet Chamber of Commerce.  Jo is also an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Millet and District Historical Society.
 Another busy farm wife, Muriel Smith was devoted to family and her faith.  Being active in the Millet United Church from a young age, Muriel later joined the Ladies Aid and the choir.  Muriel will always be remembered for her fund raising activity and providing physical and emotional support to Church members.
 Ruth Howes was a dedicated mother and philanthropist.  Ruth was a leader in striving to keep Alberta Women's Institutes one of the foremost organizations in the world.  Ruth was also involved with Alberta Red Cross, the Canadian Cancer Society, and was active in the Consumer's Association of Canada.   Ruth worked hard for many causes to better social, educational, cultural and economic conditions of the people in all of Canada.
 Winnifred Ross and her daughter, Jean Thompson were both educated women who were instrumental in the community.  A graduate of business college in 1904, Winnifred worked for the Winnipeg Grain Exchange before traveling further west, marrying, and having a daughter, Jeane, who became a teacher.  Winnifred was involved with the United Farm Women of Alberta, and sat on other committees such as the National Farm Forum, the Canadian Research Committee on Practical Education, and as the Schools of Agriculture Advisory Committee.  Winnifred also served on the Alberta Health Survey Committee, the Board of Industrial Relations, and on the Board of Governers for the University of Alberta.  Daughter Jeane followed in her mother's footsteps, being active on the Millet Library Board, United Farm Women's Association,  Canadian Nature Federation, Human Society and many more.

Dignitaries present for Millet's Pioneer Women celebration included:

• Wetaskiwin MP, Blaine Caulkins
• Rev. Barbara Lieurance, Minister of the Millet United Church
• MDHS President, Al Hegge
• Verlyn Olson, MLA of Camrose-Wetaskiwin
• Wayne Meyers, County of Wetaskiwin Councilor
• Rob Lorenson, Town of Millet Mayor
• Eleanor Pydde, Millet Town Councilor

 Following dessert and refreshments, everyone headed over to the Museum to view the exhibit.  Everyone is encouraged to stop by the Millet Museum at 5120-50 Street and view the impressive exhibit of pioneer women who have helped make Millet and area the strong and vibrant community it is today.

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