4-H was first established in Manitoba in 1913.  The 4-H program is aimed at providing youth aged 9 to 21 with opportunities to enhance leadership and life skills while promoting agricultural awareness.  The four H’s stand for Head, Heart, Health and Hands which correspond with the organization’s pledge;

I pledge,
My HEAD to clearer thinking,
My HEART to greater loyalty,
My HANDS to larger service,
And my HEALTH to better living,
For my club, my Community and my Country.

(photo courtesey of Lance and Phyllis Lowther)

4-H offers a variety projects and programs in which the youth “learn by doing.”   Each 4-H participant is a member of a club and within that club the member can choose to participate in what-ever projects interests them.  4-H attempts to provide a wide variety of projects to peak every interest.  Some are projects that are offered are aimed at group involvement, while other projects are individual.  Some of the projects include photography, canine, livestock, crafts, computers, cooking, outdoor exploration, etc.1

4-H began on Prince Edward Island in 1918.  In the beginning it was known as the Boys’ and Girls’ Club, but the name was changed to 4-H in 1952.  Separate clubs were created for each project, originally the clubs were centered around agriculture, namely livestock, but in 1933 the programs expanded with the creation of the first sewing club.2   4-H in Cornwall began with a girls sewing club.  Members of the Cornwall-York Point Women’s Institute met in December of 1933 to discuss the creation of the club and the appointment of leaders.  As a result Mrs. L.H. Drake and Mrs. Norma MacFadyen were appointed as leaders for the group which consisted of seventeen members.  The group was divided in two classes, the Junior girls, aged thirteen years and under and the Senior girls, those over the age of thirteen.3  Each girl was given material and tools and was taught different stitches.  The girls each made a dish towel, a slip and a cotton dress.4  During the fall of the year, the girls participated in an achievement day in which their work was judged and they were awarded prizes.


Cornwall 4H - Photo Courtesy of Lance and Phyllis Lowther

In the following years each district attempted to organize its own sewing club.  From 1934-36 leaders of the Cornwall sewing club included Mrs. G.R. Bain, Mrs. Frank Howard, Mrs. Hazen Howard, and Miss Marjorie Lowther.  Unfortunately, from 1936 to 1944 there are no records of any 4-H activities.  It is believed that 4-H was suspended during the Second World War.5  The sewing club did re-start in 1946 and continued on for several years thereafter.

In 1955 the calf club was started by George MacMillan. It was another successful club, and several members were chosen to attend regional fairs.  It is interesting to note that Gordon MacMillan and Eugene Donahue were Dairy Club winners in 1959 and were chosen to attend the Royal.  There they were awarded the T. Eaton trophy for high marks in judging dairy cattle, the same award their fathers won in 1932.  It was the only time in the history of the National 4-H club that this happened.  Unfortunately the club disbanded in 1963, as the children no longer had their own calves.6

There were many other Cornwall 4-H members who went on to win awards and attend regional and national competitions over the years.  Members of 4-H traveled to almost every province and participated in various competitions such as the Public Speaking Competition and the Dairy Princess Contest.  In the late 1960’s the Forestry Club and the Food Clubs were formed.  The Cooking, Knitting, Woodworking and Horse and Pony Clubs formed in the late 1960’s and early ‘70’s.  In 1972 the Cornwall 4-H Club hosted the first 4-H miss PEI contest, in which Cornwall member Audrey Dawson was the first runner-up.  The Cornwall 4-H participated in many different events and extra-curricular activities.  The group had a luncheon in the Beechwood Gardens which were cared for by Mrs. MacMillan on the Ferry Road. Other road trips included the Micmac Indian Village in Rocky Point, the oyster hatchery in Ellerslie, the MacAuslands woolen mills in Bloomfield, the creamery in Scotsburn, and salt mines in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, and many others.7

The exact date that the Cornwall 4-H Club disbanded is not known, but residents of Cornwall wishing to participate in 4-H today are required to join the North River Club.  The North River Club now takes in the communities of Cornwall, Meadow Bank and York Point.8  According to the history of York Point written by the York Point Women’s Institute, a calf club was organized in 1951 in the North River-York Point districts by David Peacock.9  The club’s leader was Jim Mundy.  The children were responsible for caring for a calf and for showing it during fairs.  In 1956 the Garden Club was organized with Mrs. Helen Sanderson as its leader.  A sewing and cooking club was also formed.  Many of the clubs were actually sponsored by the Woman’s Institute.10  There were many awards given to the North River-York Point 4-H members as well, and many members participated in national and international competitions.11

On Prince Edward Island there are currently 650 4-H members, 350 4-H leaders and 28 4-H clubs.12  The North River 4-H club-house is located on the Kingston Road.  The club currently has a large number of members.  4-H has provided youth with a fun environment in which they are given the opportunity to be accepted, valued and heard.  Members are offered so many wonderful opportunities other than just participating in many different club projects.  They can participate in provincial and national fairs, exhibitions, camps and conferences.  They also have the opportunity to travel and apply for scholarships.13  Through the 4-H program, many members have become leaders within their community and continue to contribute to create a greater society.

nr4h 4hsign
The North River 4-H club-house Sign in front of the club-house


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