The Millet Museum created the Millet's Pioneer Women exhibit to celebrate our own local women's contributions. As quoted by the CARMN project - "official" history all to frequently ignored the contribution of women. While the notion of the "hand that rocked the cradle ruling the world" is often citied, with respect to museum collections, the contextual material around the lives of girls and women is not generally collected. Domestic artifacts comprise a huge volume of community museum collections but the women who used them and gave them the patina of age are nowhere described or felt. Where women espouse "male" roles, as politicians and policy makers, they are captured in community histories. But all of those "nameless" and "faceless" women who are brides, mothers, sisters, aunts, teachers, nurses -- all of those ways in which women function in communities -- are frequently missing from the pages of history. The Exhibit begins to give these women their rightful play and makes them visible so that their stories can help us to understand the larger Canadian story.
Millet's Pioneer Women 2018
Zella (Hayes) Gardiner
Zella-Marie Hayes was born to Charles and Rose (Turnbull) Hayes in Prince Albert Saskatchewan. The family moved to Calgary where she attended Bowness Elementary and graduated from Bowness High School. While in Calgary, Zella had the opportunity to take a tourism course at the Alberta School of Tourism. Every holiday from grades 9-12 was spent at the Alberta School of Tourism and she believes this experience has been extraordinarily useful throughout her life.
In 1964, Zella met Jim Gardiner in Cochrane where he was working for CPR as a telegrapher/operator. Zella and Jim were married in 1969 and moved to Edmonton later that year. Daughter Cheryle was born in 1972 and daughter Leslie followed in 1974.In 1972, Zella began working for CPR as well, where she worked for 25 years.
Zella and Jim moved the family to Millet in 1977. She started volunteering with the girls’ school and daycare programs and became a charter member of the Lioness Club of Millet & District (now the Lions Club) in 1980. Zella has held positions in the Lions ranging from charter member to president. She has received Lioness of the Year, Lion of the Year, the Judge Brian Stevenson Fellowship award, the Bill Webber Fellowship award, and the President’s Appreciation Award. Zella also received the Mayor’s Merit Award in 2017 from the Town of Millet for her continued dedication and contributions throughout our community. She is still an active Millet Lions member and recently celebrated her 35-year membership with the organization.
Service and giving back to her community is simply second nature to Zella. As quoted by Deb Krebs “She is one of the first to offer a helping hand or lend what is needed while trying to insist she could accept nothing in return; of course we insisted. We could not ask for better neighbours.” In 1995, Zella was elected to Millet’s Town Council where she put her tourism education to good use. First as a council representative with the Battle River Tourist Association, where she became President in 1997. While on Millet’s Town Council, Zella was involved in the recreation committee, economic development, tourism committee, and the Ag Society.
Since completing her terms on council in 2001, Zella has continued to be a faithful volunteer with Block Parents, the Lions Club, Tourism, Citizens on Patrol, and Communities in Bloom. As her daughter Leslie quotes “Mom is the first to step in where needed and I swear she has no idea how to sit on her hands. If there is something to volunteer for, it is her hand in the air!” Zella explained to me that her parents instilled in her the principle to ‘give freely of your time, attention, loyalty and effort in all that you do’. It is clear to me that Zella has carried this idea with her and made it a reality.
Pat was born on March 15, 1953 in Stettler, Alberta to parents Roy and Norma Gilbert. She attended Settler school till grade 12 along with her older brother Gary and younger sister Jackie. As a child Pat enjoyed speed swimming and later got her lifeguard certification. On the weekends Pat went to her grandparent’s farm where she helped hauling bails, harvesting and taking care of the animals. Then in 1972 Pat went to NAIT to study business.
In 1973 she got married to Arthur Garrett. Pat and Art moved to Millet for the first time in 1980 and had two children their son Michael and their daughter Rochelle. In 1982 Pat, Art and the kids picked up and moved but came back to Millet in 1985 where she has now lived for over 33 years.
In 1986 Michael wanted to be a Beaver in the Scouting Association, Pat got a call asking her to volunteer as a Beaver Leader or there would be no Beaver program, and so her many years of volunteering began. Pat became a Beaver leader and later moved up to cubs, she was an assistant coach for her kid’s softball team as well as sitting on the recreation and cultural board for over 12 years.
In 1989 Pat became a councilor where she was involved with many committees and programs such as Tourism Committee and the Millet Agriculture society to name a few. During the early 90’s Pat help start up the Victim Services unit for our district and sat as president for six years. One of many quotes from Victim Services “For all that you have done to make Victim Services what it is today – we all owe you a huge hug. Wetaskiwin is truly a better place because of this unit” Thank you Charlene Schnick. Later she started up the Citizens on Patrol (COPS) Program for Millet. Because of her time and effort Pat received the Alberta Solicitor General Crime Prevention Award in 2001. In 1995 she helped grow the Pipestone flyer from a 12-page tabloid to over 48 pages and continued working there for ten years.
Today, Pat is a member of the Millet & District Historical Society, a chairperson for the Millet Tourism Committee, and still works with the COP’s program. She is the vice-chair for the Millet & District Recreation and Agriculture Society, a current council member and was an active in the Millet Lions Club as a chairperson for two years.
If something needs to be done Pat is the first one to step up and volunteer her time. As Tracey Leavitt indicated after working alongside her for over 100 hours to bring the first Millet Visitor Guide into being in less than a month – “Pat is an overload specialist.” Pat’s daughter Rochelle quotes “She is truly a community initiator, she has devoted her time to creating programs and committees to help make our community a better place.” .
Irene (Lodwig) Knull
During her time in this community, Irene has been very actively involved through her volunteer work. She has a very special place in the hearts of her family as someone who is always there.
Irene was born on July 5, 1944, to parents Julius and Rosalia Lodwig. The family lived southeast of Calmar. Irene attended Humble School and Michigan Centre School, where she enjoyed playing games outside at recess such as softball, kick the can, and skating, before going to the Leduc High School.
On August 23, 1961, Irene married Dennis Knull. They had four children; Brenda in 1963, Tim in 1965, Wendy in 1966, and Terry in 1971.
The family lived on Dennis’ farm southwest of Millet. While living on the farm, Irene and Dennis joined the Telford Community Club. They volunteered with the club for many functions such as dances and suppers until 1998.
In November 1990, Irene and Dennis moved into Millet. They soon became members of the Millet and District Recreational and Agricultural Society. Irene began by helping to cook Harvest Fair suppers. After Dennis’ passing in 1998, Irene began organizing the Harvest Fair Bench Show in 1999. Irene expanded the craft, photography, vegetable, flower, poetry, writing, quilting, and handiwork sections. In 2004, Irene proposed the idea of a Bench Show book to the Ag Society. With the help of Granddaughter Kayla, this book was ready for the 2005 Bench Show. Over the years, Irene has held all of the executive positions with the Ag Society. She has also volunteered with many Ag Society events such as the Fun Money Casino, Dessert Night, and Christmas and Easter Bingos. Irene also managed the Farmer’s Market for six years. She has also adopted the Agriplex Bed with her daughter-in-law, Connie, for years.
Over the years, Irene did a lot of canning and freezing from her huge garden. She also did a lot of baking –very fondly remembered by her Grandchildren. Irene’s Grandchildren also remember Irene’s thoughtfulness and love, as she made sure to have their favourite foods on hand for visits and attending as many of their sporting events as possible. In the early 1990’s, Irene began quilting. Since then, she has made many gorgeous and creative quilts for her family and friends. Grandchild Breanne recalls that her Grandma was a Grandma to all her friends as well. Breanne remembers Irene teaching her friend Selena and her how to quilt; how patient Irene was with them when their decision to make it a race resulted in messy sewing and how Irene eventually finished Breanne’s quilt for her.
In her time in the community, Irene has been very involved in the community through her volunteer work with the Ag Society. One of her granddaughter’s Breanne quote “Grandma Knull is highly involved in the community of Millet. She has always had a desire to give back to her community and has spent countless hours doing so.” As well as all of this, her family describe her as someone who is dependable and always there for them.
Eleanor has lived in this community for most of her life, and has been heavily involved in the community. From teaching school, to serving on Town Council, to her extensive volunteer work, Eleanor has been truly committed to this community throughout her life.
Eleanor grew up on her parents’, Emil and Amalja Kurtz, farm west of Millet. She attended Porto Bello School, Pipestone School, and the Wetaskiwin composite High School before attending the University of Alberta, where she earned her degree in Education. From 1961 to 1962, she taught at Rosebrier School.
On July 6, 1962, Eleanor married Dennis Pydde. Their son, Darrell, was born in 1963. After Darrell was born, Eleanor taught at Pipestone School for four years. In 1968, she began teaching at Millet School, where she taught for twenty-eight years. When Eleanor retired in 1996, she had taught Grade 3 for thirty-four years. As one student wrote in her note to Eleanor for her retirement, “I’ve only been in school for three years, but I think Mrs. Pydde has been the best teacher I’ve ever had.”
In 1975, Dennis and Eleanor bought their acreage where they lived until they moved into Millet in 1993. In 1980, they started Dennis Pydde Trucking. After Dennis’ passing in 1997, Eleanor ran the business until she sold it in 2011.
It is truly inspiring how involved Eleanor has been in the community. She was a member of Town Council for nineteen years, from 1998 to 2017. During this time, she served as Town Liaison for many groups, including the Millet and District Historical Society, and the Visual Arts Committee, where she was involved in the placing of murals on, community hall for Millet’s 100th Anniversary, the library and Lions’ Hall. Eleanor has been a member of the Millet Lions for twenty years, since 1997, and worked with Victim’s Services for two and a half years in the early 2000’s and also judged the Millet Legion Remembrance Day Contest with Jean Scott for years.
Since 2002, Eleanor has volunteered with the Millet and District Historical Society, which she was the president of for two years: 2016 to 2017. She has been involved in many of their projects: the Pioneer Women exhibit, the Millet Rural School project, the School Bell Kiosk, and the Millet School Closing. As Tracey Leavitt and Linda Weber tell, Eleanor is very good at running meetings as her time management is excellent; whether she is running a meeting or emceeing”. For years, Eleanor has been the emcee for many community events such as the Millet in Bloom dinner, the Pioneer Women induction ceremony, and the Community Awards ceremony. At these events, Eleanor shows her sense of humour, which inspires and amuses those around her.
Eleanor is truly a teacher. She frequently teaches those around her by inspiring them to reach their full potential and do their best work. As quoted by her grand daughter Carly “She has been a constant source of support, guidance and love from the beginning, not only with our family, but the community as well.”
Carol has been devoted to her community, from all her volunteering with Communities in Bloom to serving on Town Council. Carol has given many of her hours to help make Millet the Prettiest Little Town in Alberta.
Carol was born on December 24, 1944 in Wetaskiwin, Alberta to Jack and Joy Rix. She grew up on a farm outside of Wetaskiwin in the Bear’s Hill area. On the farm there was a lot of work to go around for her and her six siblings. Carol helped milk the cows, feed the livestock, and with combining and haying. Carol always liked the outside work more than the inside work.
Growing up Carol attended a number of different schools. Carol and her siblings attended Bear’s Hill school. The school was located directly across the road from their farm. It was one room with one teacher for nine grades. Carol attended this school until grade two. She then attended the Camp Centre, an old army barracks, in Wetaskiwin for grades three and four. Grades five to nine Carol attended Clear Vista school in Wetaskiwin. Carol finished off her schooling at Wetaskiwin Composite High School.
Carol moved to Edmonton where she met her husband Gary Sadoroszney while they both worked at the Army and Navy store. It was love at first sight and they were married a year later on August 21, 1965. They had their first daughter Audra on December 22, 1966 and their second daughter Jodi, on October 14, 1968.
Carol and her family moved a total of 28 times, living in various places across Canada due to Gary’s work transfers. Moving around allowed Carol to meet the most amazing friends and see beautiful areas of Canada. Though Carol originally aspired to become a registered nurse and did begin the schooling, this path was just not feasible with the frequent moves. Instead, Carol took some business courses at Reeves Business College and graduated secretarial school in 1975. She has worked in administration for a number of companies and even for the Town of Calmar and the Town of Millet.
Carol and her husband moved to Millet permanently in 1988. Between working and raising a family, Carol still found time to be a devoted volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Wetaskiwin and area Lodge Association as a vice chair, a kitchen assistant for Faith Bible camp as well as a board member for ten years. She is a member of the Mission Church in Wetaskiwin, was a board member of the AG society for many years.
She has been a member of Millet in Bloom for over 20 years and is now chair. With her involvement, Millet has won in numerous Communities in Bloom categories, both provincially and nationally. Most recently, Millet won in the Class of Champions (Medium) category for 2017. She is now in her second term as a counselor for the Town of Millet. She is a committee member of regionalization, land use bylaw, cemetery, and emergency services, vice chair for Millet Tourism and the Millet representative for the Joint Economic Development Initiative Annual General Meeting to name a few.
She works tirelessly to keep Millet’s parks and gardens in tip-top shape! All of her grandchildren indicated, “Grandma is a pillar of strength and always willing to put others before herself.” Carol has worked hard to promote Millet and is passionate about doing more for our citizens, seniors and children especially, and is the representative for the Millet Council at the Senior’s meetings.