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Winnifred Ross

Winnifred Ross

Winnifred Thompson was born in 1886 in Germania, Ontario. Her parents were George and Zelia Thompson. She had two older brothers, Abe and Hector. Three more brothers followed after her: Wilfred John (Fred), Keith, and Howard George (Carl).

In 1904, Winnifred graduated from business college. In pursuit of a career, she was drawn to the west, just as many others were during this time. She was hired by the Winnipeg Grain Exchange and gained essential knowledge in grain marketing. She soon felt that she should continue on further west and in 1911 she came to Edmonton. A short time later she married Harold Ross. Six years later Harold was killed at Vimy Ridge and Winnifred was left widowed.

Winnifred and her three-year-old daughter Jeane moved south, to where her brothers Fred and Keith Thompson owned a farm near Millet. The farm was established in 1915 and started off as a mixed farming operation. Gradually, as a herd was developed, it became a dairy farm. Many changes came with the introduction of electricity and mechanization, but for many aspects of farm work their horses still remained essential. Like her brothers, Winnifred became involved in many community activities. She first became involved in the United Farm Women of Alberta. She started in the local Millet group but soon became the provincial director, a position she held for thirteen years. She then became provincial vice-president for six years and the provincial president for the following five years. Within the U.F.W.A., women were concerned with rural education. They felt the standards needed to be raised and more emphasis should be put on adult education.

Winnifred became involved with many other organizations and sat on committees such as The National Farm Forum, The Canadian Research Committee on Practical Education, and the Schools of Agriculture advisory committee. From 1948 to 1954 Winnifred was on the Board of Governors for the University of Alberta. She was also influential in the Alberta Federation of Agriculture as well as the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. Winnifred found a new interest when she was appointed as vice-president of the Alberta Council of Child and Family Welfare. She also served on the Alberta Health Survey Committee. The effects of her work on this committee can be felt in Alberta’s Health Units today. From 1947-1970 Winnifred was also a member of the Board of Industrial Relations. Her role on the board was important because she could relate issues from the perspective of a rural Alberta citizen. In addition to all of these commitments Winnifred was still contributing to the operation of the Ross–Thompson farm. In 1967, Winnifred and her brothers made the decision to sell the family farm. They moved into a new home half a mile from Millet. Throughout much of this time Winnifred was in poor health. On October 1, 1974 Winnifred was inducted into the Agriculture Hall of Fame. Due to her poor health she was unable to attend. Her daughter Jeane Thompson attended in her honour. Winnifred Ross passed away a short while later in December 1974.