CFUW Fredericton History
In the spring of 1944, in Fredericton, a group of 44 university women gathered on four occasions endeavouring to found a third CFUW club in New Brunswick. The first recorded meeting was held on April 19, 1944 with the first item of business being to draft the constitution. The Committee consisted of Beatrice Phillips, Alice Oulton and Ethel Thurrot. The first project of this new Club, in cooperation with the Department of Health, was a showing of a film on venereal disease. Over 600 women attended; this was at a time when the population of Fredericton numbered approximately 10 000 people.
At the May 1944 meeting the constitution was adopted stating the aims of the Club: (1) to enlarge and deepen educational interests, (2) to promote friendship among university graduates and (3) to stimulate interest in problems of the day as well as to afford an opportunity for the expression of a united opinion. Provision was made for associated members at a fee of $1.50 (half the regular fee); associated members were ladies with at least two years post high school education.
During the first year four study groups were formed: French chaired by Marguerite Michaud, Education chaired by Bea Phillips, Mental Hygiene chaired by Dr. Ella Duff Good and Fine Arts chaired by Alice Oulton. Weekly luncheons were planned in addition to regular monthly meetings; however, even at a proposed cost of 85 cents these never materialized.
The Club quickly evoked interest in libraries by recommending that (a) the Legislative Library be opened to the public, (b) representation to Fredericton City Council be made for the establishment of a city library and (c) a regional library be established to serve the province. Further, throughout the first five years of the Club’s existence tremendous effort went into founding and maintaining a hospital library.
April 1945 marked the first visit of the National CFUW President, Dr. Ursilla MacDonald, a history professor and Dean of Women at the University of Manitoba. The Club concluded its first year with a supper meeting in June with 35 paid up members, $37.50 in the treasury and Beatrice Phillips as president.
Membership quickly grew with 67 members in 1948. Programs reflected the real concern for war torn Europe. Many food boxes were sent, mostly to Britain, and several clothing drives provided warm garments destined for Europe. Practically all this relief work was financed by voluntary contributors, a silver collection being taken at each meeting. As well, paperback books were sold and resold.
The members were reluctant to get into fundraising; however, an appeal for help in rebuilding Crosby Hall, the IFUW headquarters and residence for overseas female university students in London, encouraged the members to try to make some money. Subsequently four cultural concerts were held at the Normal School auditorium. Tickets were usually $1 or $2. One concert featured Nova Scotia born Portia White, the first Afro-Canadian singer to succeed on the international stage. Another concert featured the Latvian Ballet Troup from Halifax. This second concert failed to attract many Frederictonians so the Club had to give free tickets to students in order to fill the hall. Each member was assessed 50 cents to pay for the dancers’ accommodations at the new Lord Beaverbrook Hotel. At least the Club gained the reputation of introducing ballet to Fredericton. From the proceeds of these ventures the Club was able to donate $100 to Crosby Hall which was the highest per capita gift of any CFUW club. As well we were able to donate $125 to the Canadian Appeal for Children.
Finding a suitable place for meetings was a real concern—perhaps not so different from today. Rooms in Fredericton High School and the Normal School were sometimes available. Meetings were held at some homes and at the Beaverbrook Hotel lounge.
In March 1946 the Club voted to support the local Council of Women and for several years our representatives reported monthly on Council meetings, thus we became active in community affairs. Resolutions calling for the establishment of a Juvenile Court, a day nursery for working mothers and the licensing of practical nurses came before our meetings. The CFUW Traveling Fellowship was awarded in 1946 to Elizabeth Brewster, an honours English graduate of UNB. This may have sparked our desire to fund a local scholarship. After much discussion and planning it was decided to offer a post graduate scholarship of not less than $100. The first awarding of this scholarship was to Pauline Cunningham.
Dr. Lotta Hitchmanova, the Canadian humanitarian who founded the Unitarian Service Committee (USC), paid her first visit to Fredericton in 1947. As a result of her visit, the Club embarked on its Child Adoption Plan which continued for several years. In 1947 the Fredericton Music Festival was started. An appeal for prizes induced us to offer $10 to a promising student in the 14 years old class. Subsequently, during Jo Lynams’ presidency in 1950 the Club obtained permission to operate a milk and cookie bar at the Festival whenever it was held in the Teachers College. Currently we give two $150 Festival Awards in memory of former members Jean Brown and Winonah Wheatley.
Throughout the next five decades the Club has been involved in many projects such as supporting a Korean orphan, presenting classic children’s films at the Playhouse, funding a kindergarten child yearly prior to the establishment of public kindergartens, awarding annual school library grants to rural schools in our local school district, supporting Transition House and the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation, supporting three Haitian students, plus other charitable donations.
In 1963 a committee was established to plan a celebration of the Club’s 20th anniversary. One of the suggestions made was a money raising project, a possible book fair which could be used to start an endowment fund for scholarships. The first sale was deemed a success and it was recommended it be repeated. A $500 government bond was purchased to form the nucleus of an investment fund. In 1966 another $550 was added to our Investment Fund.
The Club has annual university and community college scholarships and bursaries presented to female students at the University of New Brunswick Fredericton, St. Thomas University and the New Brunswick Community College, those scholarships being the Jean Campbell Argue Scholarship, the CFUW Mature Women’s Scholarship, the Marjorie Barberie Logue Scholarship ( three scholarships), the Charlotte Van Dine Scholarship, the Beatrice Phillips Entrance Scholarship, the CFUW-Fredericton Scholarship, the CFUW-Fredericton Entrance Scholarship, the Dr. Althea Warren Macaulay CFUW-Fredericton Scholarship, the Dr. Nora Ni Chuiv CFUW Fredericton Graduate Scholarship and the NBCC CFUW-Fredericton Bursary. The funding for these scholarships and bursaries is made possible because of the annual Book Fair. Our proudest accomplishment has been the establishment and endowment of these CFUW-Fredericton post-secondary scholarships for women.
In 1965 the Club’s name was changed from the Fredericton University Women’s Club to the Canadian Federation of University Women, Fredericton. The name used today is CFUW Fredericton.
Over the years, CFUW Fredericton has continued expanding our membership to include women who share our goals of broadening our interests to include financial support for music education, rural school libraries, a local shelter for teenagers, international education for girls and women as well as promoting awareness of homelessness, human trafficking, elimination of violence against women and pay equity for women. In 2014 we celebrated our 70th anniversary with such events as a Speakers Forum with four events, a reception at the home of the president of UNB and an Open House held at Government House. In 2015 we celebrated our 50th year of operating the CFUW Fredericton Book Fair. The goals of CFUW-Fredericton continue to be those established in 1944 while encompassing a broader community. An invitation is extended to all women to join with us.