Quest in Roots:
Brookdale Manitoba History

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One year after the village of Brookdale was established, the Methodist Church was completed in August 1904, we are told that a Ladies'' Aid was organized about the same time. We are at a disadvantage because all early records must have been destroyed when a fire razed the manse in 1926, and those who would have remembered, have passed on. The organization was discontinued for some years but reorganized in 1916. Records list the following officers - Mrs. Geo. Switzer, president; Mrs. T. Stonehouse, vice pres.; Mrs. H.

Peadon, secretary; Mrs. O.W. McDonald, treasurer; and 17 paid up members. A manse was built in 1917, and the Ladies'' Aid helped to furnish it. Many and various were the ways of raising funds; always the annual fowl supper and bazaar, supplemented by oyster suppers, picnics, plays, concerts, lunches for farm sales and in later years, meals and lunches for bonspiels, and catering for wedding receptions.

During the 20''s an extremely active group of young people, directed and produced a number of plays, which were well received both at home and neighboring towns. One record in 1926 reads "F ebruary 4th - What Happened to Jones" - $6l.

This record is only one of many successful entertainments. The first manse was paid for in 1924.

Following the fire which destroyed the manse in 1926, extra activities flourished to aid the building committee with finances for rebuilding and furnishing the new manse. The depression years of the 30''s brought hardships, but the ladies persevered.

Members divided into three circles, each group being responsible for raising $50 annually to supplement receipts from the fowl supper and bazaar. Meetings were usually held in different homes, but in 1936 it is recorded that a meeting was held in September in the Masonic Hall where three quilts were completed and packed with other articles, for a dried out area in Saskatchewan. The Ladies'' Aid by now had been renamed the Women''s Association. During the war years local service personnel were remembered with food parcels and small gifts. Red Cross and other deserving war charities received donations.

As time went on the need for a full basement under the church was increasingly evident, so on the suggestion of Reverend G. Daly, 1953, it was decided that the church be moved and remodelled.

Here again the Women''s Association supplied substantial help in the way of lunches for volunteer labor and taking on the expense of the interior decorating.

Through the years the ladies worked under difficulties, with makeshift equipment - borrowing, moving, carting. Proof of their ability to carryon is shown in the record of years'' receipts taken in 10 year intervals over a period of 60 years. 1916 .

$124.75, 1926 . $443.74, 1936 . $207.02, 1946 .

$602.60, 1956 . $781.88, 1966 . $1842.64, 1976 .

$2251.88. Expenditures in the later years would be higher.Nellie McClung, noted author and lecturer worked all of her life for women''s suffrage. She many times spoke of women''s role in the church - working to arrange for teas and quiltings and holding of bazaars and fowl suppers. They somehow came up with ways of raising money to furnish the manse or lift the mortgage on the church. But when it came to a voice on the board or at conference or assembly, only the big strong men were allowed to vote. Fortunately women can now take their part in the running of the church. We pay tribute to the many women who worked untiringly for the church in our community.


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