On Saturday, 4 June 2011, the Ouigoudi District Convention of the New Brunswick Women’s Institute in celebration of the NBWI’s 100th Anniversary, welcomed a special guest, a person and voice from the past, Miss Marianne Grey Otty (1890-1963). Ever the journalist, historian and diligent record keeper, Miss Otty forwarded the following report of the day’s activities:
Greetings to everyone at Queens County Heritage!
I would like to thank you for contacting me on behalf of the Women’s Institute and inviting me to be a part of their anniversary celebrations! It was so nice to meet all of the ladies in attendance, and I particularly enjoyed seeing my friend Mrs. Betty Lacey. As a member of the WI who has been honoured for over 65 years of service, she remembers well the days when she and I worked together on our many WI projects. In fact, she still has the letter that I sent her in 1959 during my trip to the “Associated Country Women of the World Convention” in Edinburgh, Scotland! This trip was quite special to me, as members of my own WI worked hard to raise the money needed to send me to the convention on their behalf.
I was quite happy to be able to share some of my belongings at today’s gathering, and Queens County Heritage President Bruce Thomson did a wonderful job describing pictures of my home and family, discussing my involvement in local community life, and even pointing out the doodles that I drew in some of my grammar school readers (although I am sure that my teachers would not have been pleased to know that I had written in my books, it was fun to look back and see how I perceived the world as a little girl!)
I was also glad that I could share a piece of my history that was captured, in part, by my entries into the WI minute books, which I wrote as part of my duties as secretary treasurer. In front of the group assembled today, I read an entry dated October 30, 1917, which detailed one of our WI’s contributions to the war effort. In this entry, I described the Christmas care packages that we were preparing for 37 men and women from our local area who were overseas. In particular, I mentioned that many of these packages were to be received by my brother, Lieutenant Allen Otty, and his regiment. Little did I know, at the same time we were preparing these packages, my brother had succumbed to his wounds in Passchendaele, Belgium. That day Allen was leading a small group of men in battle against a German installation, and late that afternoon he sent out his last message requesting reinforcements. Sadly, by the time reinforcements arrived, it was too late. It caused me great pain to lose my brother – a pain felt by many people during the Great War. However, we remained resolved in our support of our men and women overseas, and on October 26, 1918 we once again assembled Christmas care packages to be sent to the brave souls fighting for freedom on our behalf.
Again, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of the WI’s celebrations, and I wish them all the best for many more years of community service and fellowship!
Marianne Grey Otty