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Hind, Mary Birdell (1900 - 1973)

Inducted: October 23rd, 1998

 Mary Birdell HindMary Birdell Hind was a pioneer in her efforts to improve rural education and farm life, at a time when most women were content to devote their time to traditional women's activities.

She did this with the help and encouragement of her husband, Orval Herbert Hind, who understood that his wife's vision was of a society in which women would take a more active role in promoting the betterment of their community and country.

Birdell Hind was not a strident or a militant reformer. Instead, as one former neighbour said, she was "a lovely lady ... always a lady." She persevered in her efforts to improve life for farm families through the Great Depression, when many Canadians were hard-pressed to find their next meal, let alone indulge in any long-term planning.

Farmers survived that ordeal because of people like the Hinds, because neighbours worked together, did things together. When a hurricane destroyed a barn on a neighbour's farm, the Hinds were the first to respond.

Birdell Hind was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, on September 5, 1900, to mature parents. Her father, Kable Hartman, was in his early 50s; her mother, Gertrude (Walker) Hartman, in her late 30s. The family moved from Pennsylvania to Kent Centre when Birdell was five, and she received her early education at S. S. 2, Harwich Township. Her mother was Postmistress, and her father delivered mail with a horse and buggy. They operated a small store and pharmacy.

The Hartmans moved to Chatham in 1913, and Birdell took commercial courses at the Chatham Collegiate Institute, to prepare for a job at Chatham Hydro, on King Street. Her business career was brief. At 18, she married Orval Hind, and moved to Dover Township. The hard work of a farm woman before appliances were invented, and the responsibilities for a young family, did not quench her conviction that more women should be involved in the decision-making that affected their lives.

She began attending the meetings of Trustees of S. S. 10, Dover Township and continued going for four years--the only woman present, and often, the only audience. The Chairman rewarded her determination and patience and finally told her, "Since you are the only woman here, you might as well be Secretary." Her meticulous notes, then, and for other rural and urban organizations, set a high standard for official records.

Birdell was always interested in greater opportunities for young farm people, and she felt they could be achieved through organization and hard work. This conviction was reflected in her service to the U.F.Y.P.O. (United Farm Young People of Ontario).

In 1931, as the Depression deepened, she was a Leader, Director and Organizer of four U.F.Y.P.O. Clubs in Kent, including Howard Centre, 48 members; Duart, 61 members; Union Hall, 24 members and New St. Andrew's, 30 members. Mrs. Hind was Provincial Assistant Director of the U.F.Y.P.O. in 1936.

The U.F.Y.P.O. was the forerunner of the 4-H Clubs and Junior Farmers today, and gave thousands of young people their first experience in organizing to lay the foundation for a better future in farming.

Mrs. Hind was also deeply involved in the United Farmers of Ontario, and her record of service to that organization was impressive. In 1930 and 1931, she was a member of the Kent U.F.O. Board of Directors. In 1932 and 1933, Mrs. Hind was President of the Board of Directors of the U.F.O. in Kent, Vice-President of the U.F.W.O. (United Farm Women of Ontario) and a member of the Kent Legislation Committee.

Her influence was felt as Provincial Vice-President of the U.F.W.O. for three years; and from 1934-1936 as Provincial President. By mid-Depression in 1935, there were 75 U.F.W.O. Clubs in Ontario,; and nearly as many U.F.O. organizations.

Mrs. Hind's experience with the Chatham Local Council of Women was typical of her determination. When she was asked to help organize the first Local Council in 1937, she contacted women's organizations, and 65 of their representatives attended an exploratory meeting. A second meeting produced a lot of interest, but a general reluctance to serve on the Executive, so Mrs. Hind became President for the Chatham Local Council of Women's first two years. Twenty years later, in 1957, she was Local Council President again.

Mrs. Hind was also Vice-President of the Kent County Co-operative Council for several years, and a member of the buying committee of the UFO Co-operative in Kent. From 1939 into the 1950s, she was President, Vice-President and Secretary of the New St. Andrew's Farm Women's Club, focusing her efforts on informing farm women of current farm issues.

Mrs. Hind was a member of Dover Centre United Church; President, officer and a member of the United Church Women; member of the Missionary Society, and a Sunday School teacher. She enjoyed writing, and wrote a number of articles for farm papers, including one sold to the Farmers Advocate in the 1930s for a welcome $2. During the 1960s, she worked in the Red Feather campaign office in Chatham.

Birdell and Orval had two children: Barbara (Mrs. Robert Skipper), and Murray (Frances). There are six grandchildren: J. Kerry Skipper, with Telestat, Ottawa; R. James (Jim) Skipper, an orthopaedic surgeon, Mississauga; Charles W. Skipper, a litigation lawyer, Toronto; Rodney Hind, Navistar, Chatham; Terry Hind and Deborah Elder Martin, both with the Federal Government in Ottawa.

Birdell Hind was a pioneer in her efforts to improve rural education and farm life, at a time when most women were content to devote their time to traditional women's activities. She did this with the help and encouragement of her husband, Orval Herbert Hind, who understood that his wife's vision was of a society in which women would take a more active role in promoting the betterment of their community and country.

Birdell Hind was not a strident or a militant reformer. Instead, as one former neighbour said, she was "a lovely lady ... always a lady." She persevered in her efforts to improve life for farm families through the Great Depression, when many Canadians were hard-pressed to find their next meal, let alone indulge in any long-term planning.

Farmers survived that ordeal because of people like the Hinds, because neighbours worked together, did things together. When a hurricane destroyed a barn on a neighbour's farm, the Hinds were the first to respond.

Birdell Hind was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, on September 5, 1900, to mature parents. Her father, Kable Hartman, was in his early 50s; her mother, Gertrude (Walker) Hartman, in her late 30s. The family moved from Pennsylvania to Kent Centre when Birdell was five, and she received her early education at S. S. 2, Harwich Township. Her mother was Postmistress, and her father delivered mail with a horse and buggy. They operated a small store and pharmacy.

The Hartmans moved to Chatham in 1913, and Birdell took commercial courses at the Chatham Collegiate Institute, to prepare for a job at Chatham Hydro, on King Street. Her business career was brief. At 18, she married Orval Hind, and moved to Dover Township. The hard work of a farm woman before appliances were invented, and the responsibilities for a young family, did not quench her conviction that more women should be involved in the decision-making that affected their lives.

She began attending the meetings of Trustees of S. S. 10, Dover Township and continued going for four years--the only woman present, and often, the only audience. The Chairman rewarded her determination and patience and finally told her, "Since you are the only woman here, you might as well be Secretary." Her meticulous notes, then, and for other rural and urban organizations, set a high standard for official records.

Birdell was always interested in greater opportunities for young farm people, and she felt they could be achieved through organization and hard work. This conviction was reflected in her service to the U.F.Y.P.O. (United Farm Young People of Ontario).

In 1931, as the Depression deepened, she was a Leader, Director and Organizer of four U.F.Y.P.O. Clubs in Kent, including Howard Centre, 48 members; Duart, 61 members; Union Hall, 24 members and New St. Andrew's, 30 members. Mrs. Hind was Provincial Assistant Director of the U.F.Y.P.O. in 1936.

The U.F.Y.P.O. was the forerunner of the 4-H Clubs and Junior Farmers today, and gave thousands of young people their first experience in organizing to lay the foundation for a better future in farming.

Mrs. Hind was also deeply involved in the United Farmers of Ontario, and her record of service to that organization was impressive. In 1930 and 1931, she was a member of the Kent U.F.O. Board of Directors. In 1932 and 1933, Mrs. Hind was President of the Board of Directors of the U.F.O. in Kent, Vice-President of the U.F.W.O. (United Farm Women of Ontario) and a member of the Kent Legislation Committee.

Her influence was felt as Provincial Vice-President of the U.F.W.O. for three years; and from 1934-1936 as Provincial President. By mid-Depression in 1935, there were 75 U.F.W.O. Clubs in Ontario,; and nearly as many U.F.O. organizations.

Mrs. Hind's experience with the Chatham Local Council of Women was typical of her determination. When she was asked to help organize the first Local Council in 1937, she contacted women's organizations, and 65 of their representatives attended an exploratory meeting. A second meeting produced a lot of interest, but a general reluctance to serve on the Executive, so Mrs. Hind became President for the Chatham Local Council of Women's first two years. Twenty years later, in 1957, she was Local Council President again.

Mrs. Hind was also Vice-President of the Kent County Co-operative Council for several years, and a member of the buying committee of the UFO Co-operative in Kent. From 1939 into the 1950s, she was President, Vice-President and Secretary of the New St. Andrew's Farm Women's Club, focusing her efforts on informing farm women of current farm issues.

Mrs. Hind was a member of Dover Centre United Church; President, officer and a member of the United Church Women; member of the Missionary Society, and a Sunday School teacher. She enjoyed writing, and wrote a number of articles for farm papers, including one sold to the Farmers Advocate in the 1930s for a welcome $2. During the 1960s, she worked in the Red Feather campaign office in Chatham.

Birdell and Orval had two children: Barbara (Mrs. Robert Skipper), and Murray (Frances). There are six grandchildren: J. Kerry Skipper, with Telestat, Ottawa; R. James (Jim) Skipper, an orthopaedic surgeon, Mississauga; Charles W. Skipper, a litigation lawyer, Toronto; Rodney Hind, Navistar, Chatham; Terry Hind and Deborah Elder Martin, both with the Federal Government in Ottawa.

Twenty-five years after her death, Birdell Hind is still remembered with affection. "She was an amazing woman. She could always see the better side of things!"



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Thursday, February 14, 2013
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