Eagle Lake ladies celebrate 75 years 0
The celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Eagle Lake Women's Society drew many former and current members of the organization. Guests enjoyed a reception at Sir Sam's Inn on June 24 to mark the occasion.
They are 75 years old.
But age is just a number.
For many of the members that number is not a true reflection of their life experiences, which extends to 80, 85, sometimes 90 years.
This year the Eagle Lake Women’s Society celebrates their 75th year of existence, first coming together with the intention of fellowship, fun and a few laughs.
The society celebrated their anniversary with a special event held on June 24 at Sir Sam’s Inn, as both former and current members reminisced about the club’s past and present years.
Drawing approximately 100 attendees, the afternoon reception included greetings from Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MP Barry Devolin and local politicians.
Originating in 1937, the women’s society was created by some of the area’s longstanding citizens who gathered at the home of Mrs. Pritchard for a 10 cent tea on March 25.
With 20 ladies in attendance, out of this social gathering the women’s society was born.
“The ladies present decided it would be both pleasant and profitable to form a women’s society. Mrs. William Hathaway was unanimously elected president and Mrs. Grace Voycey was made secretary-treasurer,” state the written minutes from the organization’s first meeting.
Mrs. Lila Curry was elected as the vice-president, according to Echo archives.
The group started meeting regularly on April 21, 1937.
Other original members include Olga Black and Rene Roberts.
Ellenor Bagg joined the society in 1968 when she was just 31 years old. At the time Bagg, now 75, owned and operated the Eagle Lake General Store.
“We moved up here and went to church right away and got invited to the meeting in September and I went because I was used to being with women,” said Bagg.
Bagg owned the store with her husband until 2004, when it was taken over by her daughter.
Since the beginning members have come and gone, with the society welcoming both full-time and seasonal residents to join.
For some the club has been a friendly and approachable way for new residents to settle into the community.
When Nancy McLuskey, 63, first moved to the Highlands from Calgary in 2004 it didn’t take long before she was scooped up by a society member and joined in 2005.
New to the area, the society was an opportunity for McLuskey to meet other women.
“In those days Elva Heard was still driving and she used to call me up and say are you coming to the meeting and I’d say yes I guess, to which she would say OK I’ll pick you up,” said McLuskey.
Heard would always pick McLuskey up half an hour early.
“If it was a 1:30 meeting you were there by 1 p.m.,” said McLuskey, past president and current secretary of the society.
Currently, the club has 24 active members, who meet on a monthly basis at different homes.
Special events include a Christmas luncheon, a September luncheon and monthly games nights.
In 1937, a society member donated a quilt and it was raffled off. They’ve been making quilts ever since, with a brief break during the war.
“During the war they knitted socks and balaclavas and scarves and sent them overseas,” said McLuskey.
In the months of July and August the society does not meet, as the ladies are busy selling 1,000 tickets for the quilt raffle, their annual fundraiser.
Members of the society create the quilt during the winter months. This past year the organization brought in a teacher who provided quilting lessons, taken by all the members.
“All the money from the raffle goes back into the community,” said current member Ruth Casey.
Funds raised go towards projects such as sending local children to Monarch Camp, supporting Youth Unlimited, SIRCH, YWCA, Silver Flutes and scholarships for high school students, to name a few.
In the past, money raised by the society was donated to the Haliburton Hospital Expansion Fund.
The group is also responsible for initiatives such as the flowerpots in Eagle Lake, the Welcome to Eagle Lake sign, playground equipment and cleaning up the beach.
“It’s really amazing to think that for 75 years it [the society] has been going in a little community like this,” said Casey.
Since its inception the society has had a motto, which it still abides to today: One may do a lot of good in the world if one does not care who gets the credit.
“That’s why it’s a collective group that accomplishes things, not just an individual,” said McLuskey.
The meetings follow a pattern established in 1937 and include a short inspirational message, business portion and finally food.
“A big part of the meeting is the socializing,” said McLuskey.
The society is always open to new members from anywhere in the county joining. There are no age limitations.
Games night are open to all and include Uno, dominoes and non-competitive euchre.
“It’s a very welcoming group, the highlight is the food,” said Casey.
Nowadays members include ladies who are approaching 90 years old, some of whom are active members and others honorary, not able to make the monthly meetings.
In a community such as Haliburton County members come and go but this is the way it’s always been.
“It’s a continuum, people fret sometimes that our members are getting older but they’ve been doing that for 75 years. As people get older younger people come into the community and join the society,” said McLuskey.
In 1958 Roberts wrote a speech celebrating the 21st anniversary of the society, which she quoted from at their 50th anniversary, held on April 25, 1987 at Sir Sam’s ski resort, according to Echo archives.
“Pride for the things we’ve accomplished, happy thoughts for the good times we’ve enjoyed together, memories of the members who played an important role in our organization but no longer live in our community and a thought of sadness in the memory of former members who have passed on.”
For the ladies of Eagle Lake and those who live in Haliburton County, one can only hope the group will continue to go on and on for many years to come.