By Mrs. R.W.W. Brown
Early in 1947 a group of ladies in the Gunningsville area met to discuss the idea of forming a chapter of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire. As a result the Mildred Bennett Chapter, I.O.D.E. was organized on April 2, 1947. The Charter and Flag, a gift of the National President, Mrs. Ryland H. New, were presented during the Provincial Annual Meeting in Saint John, New Brunswick.
The Charter members, following the policy of the National Chapter of naming chapters for a person, place or event, chose the name "Mildred Bennett." Miss Bennett was the sister of, and official hostess for The Right Honourable Richard B. Bennett, New Brunswick's only native son to become Prime Minister of Canada. Both Mildred and her brother were born and raised in Hopewell Cape, Albert County, New Brunswick.
In 1948 the Chapter joined with the six Primary Chapters in Moncton to form a Municipal Chapter of Moncton which since that date has co-ordinated the chapters under its jurisdiction in many varied projects - sponsoring the Canadian Opera Company, pianists, soloists and student to the United Nations Summer School at Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick, to name just a few.
The year 1967 was an exciting year. To celebrate Canada's One Hundredth Birthday the Chapters across Canada participated in the Youth Tours. New Brunswick Chapters sponsored 48 girls who travelled to Ottawa for the July First Centennial celebrations, for a tour of interesting points in Ottawa and to see Her Majesty, The Queen. The girls then visited Expo '67 in Montreal and on to Quebec City.
Safety became of great interest to the Order and the first Safety Seminar was held in Fredericton at the University of New Brunswick, continuing to the present time. The Chapter has sponsored a student from Riverview each year.
The Mildred Bennett Chapter as its Centennial Project supplied and had installed, a flag pole and flag in front of the Albert County Museum in Hopewell Cape.
1974 saw the Chapters in Canada selling rose bushes, a rose developed expressly for I.O.D.E. The proceeds were used to fund New Brunswick Chapter's Learning Disability project to mark the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Order in 1975. Mildred Bennett Chapter did its share.
In 1982 the three Atlantic Provinces united in a joint undertaking to raise funds for support of kidney research for children, being carried on by the Izaak Walton Killam Hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia. New Brunswick Chapters contributed over eight thousand dollars.
Mildred Bennett Chapter, over the years, has participated in or instigated many projects not mentioned above. The Chapter in 1947 adopted three schools, Gunningsville, Turtle Creek and Pine Glen, supplying a library, providing treats, prizes, pictures, flags and adding books to the libraries. In 1967 when the children were transported to school by bus, the Pine Glen and Turtle Creek schools were closed. After due consideration the Chapter decided against 'adopting' schools, but to 'assist' the Gunningsville and Riverview schools. As a result, the members are able to supply calendars and pictures of the Queen and Prince Phillip, a History Prize for Riverview High School along with presenting two bursaries in the amount of School along with presenting two bursaries in the amount of $150 each to deserving students. One bursary is awarded to a resident of Riverview and the other to a student living in Albert County. Gifts of a personal nature are given to a very deserving girl attending University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. Before the handicapped class in Claude D. Taylor School was closed, the Chapter supplied craft supplies, treats and kitchen equipment and each year would take the students bowling.
Education is not the only interest of I.O.D.E. Services and citizenship play a large part in our programme. Remembrance Day and Citizenship Day messages are delivered to each school and members attend Citizenship courses serving tea and refreshments to New Canadians.
Services is a very varied department. Over the years, the Chapter has provided books to the Riverview Library, books and layettes to the Albert County Hospital, donated eye glasses, wigs, shirts, sweater, bootees and many items to Provincial Chapter for distribution in Labrador and Overseas. At Christmas, clothing, toys and food hampers are given to a needy family. Possibly the most heart warming project of the Chapter was providing gifts, magazine subscriptions, candy, cigars and sanding discs for the patients in the Leper Hospital in Tracadie, New Brunswick. The Chapter in 1981 brought the "Vial of Life" programme to Riverview.
The Royal Family is of great interest to the members who celebrated The Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 by participating with all Canadian chapters in the presentation of thirty-seven watercolours and drawings to the Territorial Central Museum at Yellowknife, North West Territories.
The work of the Mildred Bennett Chapter continues, changing with the times. To reach new goals and maintain ongoing projects entrails a great deal of work and effort on the part of the members who give willingly of their time to fund raising projects, which are so well supported by the kind generosity fo the residents of Riverview. The members are most grateful and will, in the future, endeavour to live up to the motto of the Chapter "Service for Others" as it has been for the past thirty-seven years.