From electricity to education, a group’s efforts help Grasmere flourish

“We are independent and resourceful. We are advocates for our community,” says Judy-Lou McDonald, President of the Triangle Women’s Institute in Grasmere. “We have had amazing women as part of our group in the past, as we do now.”

Founded in 1937, the Institute has stood the test of time. It helped bring phone service to the US/Canada border community, along with electricity and a highway. While the “triangle” in its name originally represented a geographic area—from Gold Creek, to Flagstone (now under Koocanusa Reservoir), to Grasmere—today it means the organization continues to support residents under three points: inclusiveness, education and well-being.

From community dances, to student bursaries, to supporting the local Salvation Army, food bank and 4-H club, the organization offers long-standing activities while introducing new programs that appeal to the evolving, growing community. The Trust has stood by many of these efforts, including the annual Snowflake Tea and Gala and Canada Day celebrations.

“The best part about being part of the Women’s Triangle Institute is the sense of community it helps to create,” says Yvonne Miller, Past President.

“The greatest pleasure is to see everyone gathering and connecting.”

One of the main gathering spots is the Grasmere Pioneer Hall. Built in the 1970s, it’s owned and operated by the Institute. In 2015, the Institute received Trust funding to expand the hall, providing a better home for the library and adding a meeting room. Recently it received support from the Trust’s Energy Sustainability Grants to install solar panels.

“The hall is the heart of our community,” says Miller. Fundraising has always been a part of the Institute’s work, but recently much of the funds had been used to pay utility bills. The solar panel project “means that running the hall will be more sustainable for us. We can spend more time raising money for the things we really want to get on with in the community.”