Lethbridge History and The Alberta Women’s Radium Fund

The Women’s Institutes of Alberta, one time associated with the United Framers of Alberta, had a hand in the everyday life of Albertans since being organized in 1909. Their community service included, contributing to the work of the Red Cross during the First World War, the 1918 influenza, and drought during those years. They organized exhibits showcasing Alberta grown products, handicrafts and held yearly conventions for all of the branches within the provincial and federal institutes.

It was at the 1936 district convention held in Lethbridge that District 4 of the Women’s Institute in southern Alberta, resolved to hold a fundraising drive to assist the medical field. Dr. Stuart Rose, radiologist at the Municipal and St Michael’s Hospitals had addressed the convention and delegates heard about the high cost of radium treatment for cancer.

A resolution was put forth to campaign for funds to secure a supply of radium. There was a unanimous agreement and the Southern Alberta Radium Association was formed. Organized by the director of District 4, Mrs. Lottie Thompson and supported by representatives of 28 branches of the W. I., including Lethbridge, members set out to raise $5,000 to purchase a quantity of radium during the depression years. Between the years 1938-1944, over $2763.90 was used to buy 109 mgm of radium which was kept at the Galt Hospital. The radium was available to any radiologist giving treatments at no cost to the patient. By 1940, all radium treatments came under the provincial Department of Health and were paid for by the government. The supply was sufficient and no further fundraising efforts were needed.

This is the 80th anniversary of the Alberta Women’s Radium Fund, and we applaud their contribution in the development for universal cancer treatment in Alberta.

Learn how to you can preserve and explore history like this at the Galt Museum & Archives. Thursday July 21 the Galt presents Archives 101, a workshop for adults and seniors. This is your chance to be introduced to the historical resources in the Galt Archives. Admission fees apply, includes exhibit access. Free to annual pass holders and registration not required.