The Millet and District Museum and Archives (MDMA) invites our community to celebrate Millet’s Pioneer Women and the lifetime accomplishments of five new inductees: Zella Gardiner, Pat Garrett, Irene Knull, Eleanor Pydde, and Carol Sadoroszney. These inspirational women have all impacted Millet’s community through creating positive changes, shaping the landscape and volunteering, leaving a legacy that will be remembered for generations to come.
Millet’s Pioneer Women exhibit was established as part of the Central Alberta Regional Museums Network’s (CARMN) 1998 project “Women of Aspenland”. The MDMA alongside 46 other museums, collected the biographies, researched political, social and family lives of Aspenland Women that significantly impacted Central Alberta and displayed their histories in CARMN museums so that others could learn more about these remarkable women. Many of the exhibition pieces can be viewed at www.unlockthepast.ca.
This exhibit was made possible through the generous contributions of the pioneer women that were nominated to tell their stories, and to all the families of the other Pioneer women who are celebrated. As quoted by the CARMN project, “Official” history all too frequently ignores the contributions of women. Where women have challenged gender boundaries as politicians and policy makers, they are captured in community histories. But all of those “nameless” and “faceless” women who are brides, mothers, sisters, aunts, teachers, nurses, and community members are frequently missing our historical record. The Pioneer Women Exhibit showcases women that shaped their communities and gives them visibility so that their stories can help us to understand the larger Canadian story. The Swedish concept of “home blindness”, that sense that we are too close to those things that immediately surround us so that we do not appreciate them, also applies to the impact of women on community development and identity. As the MDMA celebrates Pioneer Women, Executive Director, Tracey Leavitt indicates nominations are being sought to add to these women’s display binders.
The MDMA is grateful for the contributions and support for the Pioneer Women Exhibit from the Millet Lions Club, the Royal Canadian Legion Millet Branch #229, and the Millet Recreational and Agricultural Society as well as the County of Wetaskiwin. Raffle donations were received from the Millet Arts and Crafts Guild artisan Peggy Robinson who provided two wall hangings with raffle until August 25, 2018. Additionally, successful grant applications from the Canada Summer Jobs Program and Young Canada Works along with the Town of Millet’s support, have provided employment opportunities for four exceptional and talented summer staff Tori Flint, Maggie Peterson, Taylor McCool and Ashly Murphy who have worked towards completing this exhibition. Many volunteers have also provided expertise to make this exhibition possible.
Come to the Museum to explore the lives of these Millet Pioneer Women and be prepared to have your assumptions of the great moments and events of Alberta history challenged. The official opening is Saturday June 2 at the Millet Agriplex doors open at 12:30. Music by Colleen Strautman and entertainment by Heather D Swain as Dr Auntie Dote HumourHealthCare.com comedy. Come celebrate with us. Tickets at Museum or at the door.
No matter where all these women lived they always were involved in the community and still made time to be with her family.
Zella (Hayes) Gardiner has spent decades volunteering her time, and effort in and around Millet. As a member of the Millet & District Lions Club for over 30 years, Zella has been a vital part of many of their accomplishments: disaster relief fundraising, gifting of computers to the local schools, and the creation of the Lions Memorial Campground in 2017. Her commitment to the Lion’s Club and its fundraising efforts have garnered her numerous awards: the Judge Brian Stevens Fellowship Award in 2012, the Bill Webber Fellowship Award in 2012, and the President’s Appreciation Award in 2013 and 2017. Zella has also participated in Millet’s Citizens on Patrol, Communities in Bloom, and was an integral part of bringing the Block Parents organization to Millet.
Zella also spent two terms on Millet’s Town Council. Appointed to the Battle River Tourist Association as a council representative for Millet during her first term, Zella eventually became President of the Association where she worked tirelessly to promote the Millet area. Of her accomplishments while on council, Zella is most proud of her contributions to tourism and the construction of the Millet Fire Hall. Since completing her terms on council, Zella has continued to be involved in the community. Known as someone who can always be counted on, Zella is an integral figure in Millet who displays continued dedication and contributions throughout our community.
Patricia (Pat) Joy (Gilbert) Garrett has put in years of dedication to Millet. In 1986 when Pat’s son, Michael, wanted to be a Beaver in the Scouting Association, Pat got a call asking her to volunteer as a leader or there would be no Beaver program. After becoming a Beaver leader, she was an assistant coach for her kid’s softball team and sat on the Recreation and Cultural board for over 12 years.
In 1989, Pat became a Millet Town Councillor where she became involved in many committees and programs such as the Millet Library, Millet Agriculture Society, and the tourism committee. During the early 90’s she helped start up the Victim Services unit for our district where she sat as president for six years. Later she established the COPs program for the town of Millet, which she is still active in today. For her efforts she received the Alberta Solicitor General Crime Prevention Award in 2001. Then in 2013, Pat received Citizen of the Year and in 2017, she received the Life Time of Community Service from Millet Lions.
Today she is an active member of the Millet & District Historical Society and the Millet Lions Club, a chairperson for the Millet Tourism Committee, and Vice-President for the Millet & District Recreation and Agriculture Society. Pat is being honored because of the great amount of time, effort, and dedication she puts into our community to make it what it is today.
Irene (Lodwig) Knull is being honoured for volunteer work, specifically with the Millet and District Recreational and Agricultural Society. Irene Annie was born on July 5, 1944 to parents Julius and Rosalia Lodwig. On August 23, 1961, Irene married Dennis Knull. They lived on his farm south-west of Millet, and had four children: Brenda, Tim, Wendy, and Terry.
Since moving to Millet in 1990, Irene has been heavily involved in the Millet Ag Society. Irene has volunteered for the Harvest Fair, Fun Money Casino, Dessert Night, and the Christmas and Easter Bingos. Irene organized the Harvest Fair Bench Show for seventeen years, and managed the Farmer’s market for six. She has held the positions of President, Treasurer, Secretary, Vice-President, and was on the entertainment committee. Irene volunteered with the Communities in Bloom program for sixteen years. She has taken care of both her own yard as well as in adopting and caring for the Agriplex bed. In 2005, she won the Most Decorative Front Yard category.
Irene is an avid quilter, and has made many gorgeous quilts for family, grandchildren and friends. To her grandchildren, she has always been very caring and involved; loving to spend time with them and making sure to keep their favourite treats on hand. She is generous and caring, not only to her family but also to friends and the community.
Eleanor (Kurtz) Pydde is being honoured for her extensive contributions to the community. Eleanor Elizabeth, the youngest of seven, was born to Emil and Amalja Kurtz. On July 6, 1962, she married Dennis Pydde. They had one son, Darrell. Eleanor taught Grade 3 for thirty-four years, twenty-eight of which were at the Millet School (1968-1996).
Eleanor was a Millet Town Councillor for nineteen years, from 1998-2017. She was also on the Visual Arts Committee, and was involved in the projects to place the murals on the library, community hall and the Lions’ hall. Eleanor has volunteered with the Millet and District Historical Society since 2002. She was the President of the MDHS for two years, and has been involved in many of their projects, such as the Pioneer Women exhibit, the Millet Rural school project, the Millet School project, and the Bell kiosk project. She has also been a member of the Millet Lions for twenty years. Eleanor has been the emcee for the Millet in Bloom dinner, the Pioneer Women induction ceremony, and the Community Awards ceremony for years, as well as for the Lions’ mural dedication. Her humour in these speeches generally leaves people in stitches. Eleanor has been involved in many other volunteer groups as well. She worked with Victim’s services for two and a half years. While on Town Council, she was the Town Liaison for many groups.
Carol Ann (Rix) Sadoroszney has been a familiar face around Millet for years. She and her husband, Gary, settled in Millet permanently in 1988 after many moves around western Canada. Throughout her time in Millet, Carol has been heavily involved in multiple community organizations and events. Carol served as secretary of the Millet Ag Society for 6 years and is still active in COPS. Carol is also involved in other groups including being the Vice Chair of Tourism, the Council representative for Millet Seniors, and as a member of the cemetery committee. Perhaps most notably Carol has been a dedicated member of Millet in Bloom for over 20 years where she is now chairperson. Carol and her work bees are incredibly diligent in keeping Millet’s flowerbeds and greenspaces in immaculate condition. It is Carol and her other volunteers who we have to thank for the numerous Communities in Bloom awards Millet has received. It was under Carol’s leadership that Millet was dubbed the “Prettiest Little Town in Canada” after winning the 2001 Nationals. Carol is currently a Town Councillor where she is persistent in her goal to promote Millet and bring more to do for our citizens, seniors and children especially. Carol is being honoured for her many years of commitment in making Millet such a vibrant “Visitor Friendly” community.
Submitted by Millet & District Museum, Archives and Visitor Centre