From the archives: Thornhill Women’s Institute

Documents and diaries from the Thornhill Women's Institute

Learn more about the city’s history from the Vaughan Archives


From the traditional territories of the First Peoples of Turtle Island, to a farmland community, to a bustling city centre and everything in between – Vaughan's transformation is a story worth telling. The City of Vaughan’s popular monthly series continues, with historical content from the Vaughan Archives being shared.


Scroll through memory lane, learn about the city's past and explore the places, people and events that were pivotal to the development of the Vaughan we know today. This month, the City is highlighting the Thornhill Women’s Institute.


Established in February 1902 by women involved with service work in the local village, the Thornhill Women’s Institute was one of the oldest of these groups established in Ontario. The purpose of a Women’s Institute was to bring women together, provide them with educational opportunities and the chance to make a difference in their community.


Past presidents of the Thornhill Women’s Institute have included Mrs. David James, Mrs. S. W. Moyle, Mrs. Andrew Hall, Mrs. Robert Thompson, Mrs. O. James, Mrs. James Pearson, Mrs. William Riddell, Mrs. R. Holmes, Mrs. P. Bone, Mrs. H. Swabey, Mrs. Evan McKeen, Mrs. S.S. Findlay, Mrs. C. Sinclair, Mrs. A.W. Crowhurst, Mrs. C. Clifford, Mrs. C. Thompson, Mrs. C.J. Sinclair, Mrs. Mizen, Mrs. R. Holmes and Mrs. Ann Jackson.


In 1963, the club donated $1,300 to furnish a room in the York Central Hospital in Richmond Hill (now known as Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital). In 2002, the group celebrated its 100th anniversary as part of the York East District Annual Women’s Institute, of which they were members.


The City’s collection on the Thornhill Women’s Institute consists of minute books from 1977 to 1997. These books contain records of attendance and decisions of executive and district annual meetings, membership lists, cash expenditures and financial statements, and lists of officers and directors. The records also contain six Tweedsmuir Community Histories. These books consist of photos, biographies, newspaper clippings, stories and first-hand accounts of the history of the Thornhill Women’s Institute from 1902 to 1975.



Established in 1988, the City’s Archives is home to more than 600 collections, consisting of both City records and cultural records about Vaughan from 1860 to the present day. Records include, but are not limited to:

  • City business records with long-term legal and administrative value, such as Council meeting minutes, by-laws, assessment rolls, financial records, reports and official correspondence
  • church, community and school records
  • census records
  • historical photographs
  • land records
  • historical maps, plans and aerial photographs
  • newspapers
  • personal papers of past residents and founding families, such as diaries, family histories, journals and letters
  • records of local organizations, both past and present



The City's Archival Collection is on digital display for all to explore! The below galleries are available in the City's online gallery on Flickr:

  • Early Communities of Vaughan
  • From Township to City: The Evolution of Vaughan
  • Featured Artists of Vaughan
  • Historical Families of Vaughan
  • Historical Figures: Lord Beaverbrook
  • Historical Photography
  • Recollections of Rural Vaughan
  • The Mary Wood Collection
  • The Way We Were: Representations of Vaughan's Past
  • Vaughan Working Environments
  • Vaughan Through the Ages: Medicine, Music and Sports and Recreation
  • Early Churches of Vaughan
  • Historical Schools of Vaughan
  • Archival Awareness


A personal Flickr account is not required to access the City's online gallery, which contains only a small selection of the full archives collection. If you are looking for a particular image, original file, primary source record or more, please visit the Archival Database, or contact the Vaughan Archives by calling 905-832-2281 or emailing


By managing and preserving both City and community records, the Enterprise Information Management Services team ensures that Vaughan's rich and varied history will continue to be available for future generations. Learn more at


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