SANDFIELD—The Big Lake Women’s Institute (WI) is notable for the good works its members do for Manitoulin Island as well as countries abroad. From supplying toiletry bags for women and filled backpacks for children staying at Haven House in Mindemoya, to helping fill the Christmas hampers at the food bank, to sending clothes, washcloths and teddy bears to Third World countries such as Haiti and Ethiopia, the group steps up to brighten people’s lives.
The organization would now like to revive a past practice that was initiated in 1995 and saw the community of Sandfield honour its residents with a Citizen of the Year award.
As award committee member Betty Heis explained, the original tribute went to Rae Leeson, an award that seemed well deserved as all seven of the district nominations received were for Ms. Leeson, who had lived in the township since her birth in 1913. Linda Farquhar, also an award committee member, is the daughter of Ms. Leeson and spoke fondly of the many volunteer activities her mother participated in including bake sales, bazaars and quilting, which was done at her mom’s house. Ms. Leeson was also the postmistress for many years and was a writer for The Expositor. She also arranged to have the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) erect signs for Big Lake and Silver Bay Road.
Other honourees for this award included D.O. Cannard, Rita Moody, Carole Middaugh, Dot and Andy Watson, Marjorie Young, Ethel Case, Betty McGregor, Guy and Eileen Boulay, Ronnie Tann, Mary Lou and Alex Lochead, Neil Middaugh and Rose McIntosh. “And we think that Ward 3 still has a lot of volunteers to honour,” Ms. Heis said as she went on to explain why the award was dropped for many years. Each person to win the accolade received a certificate and a prize. Their name also went on a plaque that was displayed at the old School House. Unfortunately, the school burned down and the plaque with it. This, coupled with the amalgamation of the townships, saw the last award bestowed in 2007.
The WI members are asking Ward 3 citizens to name persons for this award and have set a deadline of June 7 for nominations to be accepted. The nominee should be a resident or former resident of Ward 3 Sandfield. Nominations are to be sent to Big Lake WI c/o Box 146, Mindemoya, ON P0P 1S0. The WI members will select the Citizen of the Year. The presentation of the award will take place at the Big Lake Community Hall (old school house) at the WI annual June luncheon and bake sale on June 21.
As well, the Big Lake WI would like to accept new members for their organization.
“We always welcome new members,” said group chairperson Ruby Lavigne “and we meet at 12:30 pm on the first Wednesday of every month with January to May meetings held at the Catholic church in Mindemoya and the rest of the meetings held at the Old School House (Community Hall) in Sandfield.
“What a great bunch of women,” Betty Heis added, “There is a great deal of respect for each other,” and Ms. Farquhar agreed and also said that each member has their niche. For more information or to become a member of this organization, call the Big Lake WI at 705-377-4358.