Lady Olave Baden Powell holding Mickey the Beaver during a trip to Red Deer in 1946.

Red Deer’s Girl Guides began in 1917

This year marks the Canadian centennial of one of the most remarkable international youth organizations – the Girl Guides. It was 100 years ago, in 1910, that the first Canadian company of Guides was formed in St. Catharines, Ont.

The origins of this significant organization are closely tied with the Scouting movement.

When Lord Baden Powell established the latter organization for boys in 1907, he was impressed by the fact that large numbers of girls also wished to become Scouts. However, he felt single-gender groups would be better.

Hence, he persuaded his sister, Agnes Baden Powell, to organize a similar movement for girls. The Guides quickly flourished across the United Kingdom and soon spread to Denmark, Finland, South Africa and Canada. Many more countries, such as the United States and France, soon followed.

The first Guide Company was formed in Red Deer in 1917, following an impressive information evening held by the local Scouts in the Red Deer Armouries. The first captain was Mrs. F. Lund, while the first lieutenant was Olive Steward (later Munro).

The charter members created their own uniforms using “navy skirts, a white middy or blouse, a cobalt blue triangular scarf tied in front with a necktie knot”. They also made large soft hats, turned up front and back, that were very distinctive looking.

Originally, the Guides generally met in Mrs. Lund’s home. Eventually, they acquired a “Guide Shack”, which was a one-roomed house on the corner of 48 Ave. and 52 St.

The first camping trips were to Sylvan Lake. The Lund’s summer cottage was used. Most slept on the ground with blankets in tents, but some went into the cabin when it rained.

In 1922, the Red Deer Guides had the honour of being inspected by Governor General Lord Byng and Lady Byng while they were in Red Deer for the official unveiling of the Cenotaph. The following year, the Guides and Scouts greeted Lord and Lady Baden Powell when they made a stop in Red Deer.

Lady Olave Baden Powell returned to Red Deer in 1946 and again in 1955. During the 1946 visit, she spent a considerable amount of time with Mickey the Beaver, who had been adopted by the Forbes family.

In 1924, the first Brownie pack was formed in Red Deer by Olive Steward Munro. The group consisted of young girls, aged 8 to 11 and quickly became as popular as the Guides.

Both Guides and Brownies were very involved in the community. For example, they helped to refurbish toys so that they could be used as Christmas gifts to needy children. They also planted ceremonial trees in Coronation Park and tulips at the Cenotaph.

In September 1932, the Guides and Brownies were part of the official welcoming party for the Governor General, the Earl of Bessborough, and had the same role in July 1937 for the visit of Governor General Lord Tweedsmuir.

In 1939, the Guides helped to complete the construction of the Scout Hall on 48 Ave. North. Consequently, the building was renamed the Scout-Guide Hall. That same year, National Conference of Guiders was held in Red Deer with the delegates staying at the Nazarene College on Gaetz Ave. South.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Guides and Brownies experienced a real explosion of growth, as Red Deer became one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. By the late 1970s, there were more than 600 Brownies, Guides, Rangers and Pathfinders in the city.

A big boost came in 1961 when the Kiwanis and Kinette Clubs helped with the establishment at Sylvan Lake of the Kiwanis Girl Guide Camp (now known as Camp Sherbino).

The numbers of Guides and Brownies has declined somewhat in recent years, but they are still important organizations in providing opportunities, training and activities for young girls. They also continue to make wonderful contributions to the community, both for today and for the future.

Just Posted

City art gallery to close after 20 years in the business

Lacombe mainstay set to close at the end of April

Central Alberta dancers ‘shimmy’ for a great cause

Shimmy Mob will take place in more than 169 locations all over the world

Johnny 2 Fingers and the Deformities play The Vat April 27th

Moose Jaw band is on a 39-day national tour from Quebec City to Vancouver

Council highlights

Council to fund Rimbey Boys and Girls Club for $15,000

WATCH: Second annual Our Best To You Craft Sale on now

Red Deerians can expect over 150 artisans, makers and designers

UPDATED: 9 killed, 16 injured after van hits pedestrians in Toronto

Toronto police say nine people have died and 16 are injured

Judith Guichon steps down as Lieutenant Governor of B.C.

Election decision didn’t make her best moments from the past six years

Vancouver to rake in $30 million in empty homes tax in first year

The tax is the first of its kind in Canada, and was intended to address the city’s near-zero vacancy rate

Localized flooding in Red Deer County

The rapidly melting snow is causing overland flooding in some areas

Prankster broadcasts fake nuclear threat in Winnipeg

The audio recording on Sunday warned of a nuclear attack against Canada and the United States

Saskatchewan introduces law to allow control of oil, gas exports

The Prairie province has already said it is supporting Alberta in a dispute with B.C. over the Trans Mountain pipeline

Fake bottom in container nets cocaine, meth: RCMP

Maskwacis RCMP traffic stop leads to trafficking charges

Kinder Morgan bungled pipeline public relations: poll

The survey suggests 58 per cent of Canadians believe the company is to blame for poor perceptions

Royal baby: It’s a boy for Kate and William

The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to her third child, a boy weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces.

Most Read