The Small Town Heroes contest run by the UFA serves to celebrate the people they describe as the backbone of rural communities, people who do all the right things to make their town a better place.
Nominees enter the competition in the hope of hosting a free concert from country singer, Paul Brandt and receiving $2,500 to use within the community.
A recent nomination for this contest was a group started on May 18, 1912 by nine ladies, then described as “non-persons”, who formed the Women’s Institute of Verdant Valley.
Those women were Mrs. Carl Dayton, president, Mrs. John Brown, vice president, Mrs. Willard Bixby, secretary treasurer, Mrs. John Ewing, Mrs. Stephanson, Mrs. Sylvester, Mrs. Rodseth, Mrs. Herman Morrow and Mrs. Bob Morley.
To battle their isolated loneliness, the women got together and worked hard to put life into the new homestead and turn it into a community.
They organized community events, such as picnics, chicken suppers, concerts, dances, box social and plays. The money they raised helped fund the school library, Christmas concerts and many other worthwhile causes. During the war, they helped any way they could, by knitting, making bandages, raising money for the Red Cross, and help men overseas.
The women also started to educate themselves, by studying farming methods, homemaking, raising children, and livestock, canning and lobbying the government for agriculture and social improvements in the Province.
In 1916, the women became “persons” with the passing of the Equal Suffrage Bill in the Alberta legislature.
The legacy of these women lives on to what is now called the Verdant Valley and Dorcas Women’s Institute and is the oldest one in Alberta.
As a tribute to what those nine non-persons achieved nearly 100 years ago, the institute is entering the contest, and hope to use the prize of $2,500 to go towards the centennial celebrations of the group in 2012.