Friendship and philanthropy keeps 100-year-old ladies club alive in rural Alberta

A storied women’s club in a rural community east of Edmonton marked an important milestone this year.

Warwick Ladies Club meets monthly and donates to causes in their community

14 women sitting around a table clap.
Members of the Warwick Ladies Club hold a meeting followed by a Christmas party on Dec. 12, 2022. (Madeleine Cummings/CBC)

A storied women's club in rural Alberta marked an important milestone this year.

In 1922, rural women living near the young agricultural community of Warwick, located near Vegreville, Alta., about 110 kilometres east of Edmonton, formed a club.

One hundred years later, the Warwick Ladies Club is still active, holding monthly meetings that usually take place in each others' homes.

The club celebrated its centennial with a high tea event in October and members shared favourite memories at their annual Christmas party this month. 

An abandoned school sits on a snowy field on a grey day.
Fairwood School, just east of the community of Warwick, Alta., was used as a meeting place for Warwick Ladies Club members in its early days. (Madeleine Cummings/CBC)

"I never dreamt that I would be in this club this long," said Jean Hughston, who lives in Vegreville and joined the club in 1959. She is the club's longest-standing member.

Hughston said her mother-in-law, Ada Hughston, created the club with her neighbours to support causes in their community.

Years ago, the ladies held card parties, dances and bingo games at the Fairwood School, which Hughston attended as a girl.

Alberta ladies club celebrates 100 years

5 months ago
Duration 2:33
The storied ladies club in the small community of Warwick, located near Vegreville, Alta., is still going strong — a century after the group formed.

Over the years, annual membership dues have risen from 25 cents to $20, Hughston said, but much has remained the same. The group, which currently has 22 active members, holds an annual summer picnic in June and goes out for a meal once a year. 

"It's important because as a community, we have to keep the men on track," said Olga Jamison, a club member for 40 years.

She said the club has raised money for many charitable initiatives, including cancer research, and stepped in to help people in trouble. 

Canned goods, pantry items and toiletries are stacked on a table with a framed photo that says "food bank donations."
Donations for the Vegreville Food Bank Society sit on a table at the Warwick Community Hall. (Madeleine Cummings/CBC)

At its most recent meeting, members discussed the need for a replacement furnace at the Warwick Community Hall and collected donations for the Vegreville Food Bank Society.

Members believe their club is one of the oldest women's clubs in the province. Earlier this year, the 103-year-old Forshee Ladies Group celebrated its belated centennial at the community in hamlet located about 50 kilometres northwest of Red Deer.

A green quilt includes squares that honour individual members of the club. Jean Hughston and Peggy Lobay's squares are pictured.
Members honoured the club's 80th anniversary with a quilt. (Madeleine Cummings/CBC News)

Wilma Cherniawsky said Hughston convinced her to join the club in 1969, when she was raising four small children. 

Cherniawsky said it was a treat to get out of the house, spend time in someone else's home and meet all the women in the area, so she kept coming back. 

"It's very important for the social fibre of our community," she said.

Two rows of women pose for a photo in a hall with Christmas decorations.
Sixteen members of the Warwick Ladies Club gather for a Christmas party at the Warwick Community Hall on Dec. 12, 2022. (Madeleine Cummings/CBC)

Club secretary Peggy Lobay, who joined in 1993, said she's proud to be part of a group of women with diverse backgrounds and values.

She and others take pride in the club's history, which fills scrapbooks and hangs on the hall's walls.

"It's a remarkable feat that we've made it," she said.


Madeleine Cummings is a reporter with CBC Edmonton. She covers local news for CBC Edmonton's web, radio and TV platforms. You can reach her at madeleine.cummings@cbc.ca.