The Brandon Ladies Auxiliary #112 of the United Commercial Travelers of America received its charter on October 30, 1937 at their first meeting, which took place in the Rose Room of the Prince Edward Hotel in Brandon, Manitoba. At this time the membership of the Ladies Auxiliary #112 consisted of 27 Sisters. Brother Ernie Tatton, Grand Counselor at the time, presented the Ladies Auxiliary with their Bible in May 1938. Winnipeg Auxiliary #48 gave the Brandon Auxiliary their Bible Book Mark and Saskatoon Auxiliary #23 gave them their gavel.
Initial meetings were held in the Rose Room of the Prince Edward Hotel on Saturday evenings, when the Brothers would meet after their weekly travels. Meetings were then moved to the Kelly Block on 8th Street. Here the Sisters would meet downstairs and the Brothers upstairs. Meetings were usually followed by dancing, singing, and lunch downstairs. Meetings were held in the Masonic Temple, the Knights of Columbus Hall, the Orange Hall, the Oddfellows Hall, and eventually in the UCT Hall. Throughout all the location changes, a social hour was still held with the Brothers.
The Brandon Auxiliary always performed the ritualistic and floor drill work. Originally, patrols only joined the Officers when Brandon Auxiliary was hosting a Grand Session. Patrols, with matching outfits, soon became a part of the floor work at every meeting. Officers were required to wear the proper attire. Capes were introduced in 1940 and white shoes, stockings, and dresses in 1941. Membership swelled over the years and 50 years after being inaugurated the Brandon Auxiliary could claim 136 Sisters.
The Brandon Ladies Auxiliary #112 was always very active within the larger community, especially with fundraising and charitable donation. Initially the Brandon Auxiliary supported the Red Cross by sewing and knitting. The Brandon Auxiliary also supported the Canadian Cancer Society at this time by making dressings. Rummage sales and teas were used to fundraise at the time. Teas were used in conjunction with the wives of the Steam Plant to purchase equipment for the first school in Brandon that taught developmentally delayed children. The Brandon Auxiliary also did fundraising teas, Walk-a-thons, bazaars, and raffles for the Camroc workshop, which was built for older handicapped students.
Bingo games were used to raise funds as well. Other projects of the Brandon Ladies Auxiliary include:
1. Builders of Women – provides help to needy girls and women and gives a scholarship out at the Festival of the Arts. In 1969 the Ladies Auxiliary refurnished the third floor of the YWCA.
2. Cancer – assistance with the annual canvas, ride and run events, putting on an event with a speaker and film, and a survey of sisters who had their annual pap test.
3. Handicapped Children – purchase of equipment for the handicapped classes at George Fitton School and the COR Enterprises (formerly Camroc) workshop. One sister was a volunteer for their swimming and bowling classes, among other things.
4. The Three Benevolent Funds
5. May E. Tisdale Educational Fund – donated to this fund every year, usually in memory of deceased sisters.
6. Brandon General Hospital Special Equipment Fund – every year a sum was included in the Ladies Auxiliary budget to purchase special equipment for the Brandon Hospital.
Civic Service donations included the Mental Health Centre Christmas gifts, three Christmas hampers for needy families, Canadian Diabetes Association, Manitoba Heart Fund, and Brandon Figure Skating Club.
In 1962, the Auxiliary's 25th birthday, their first Dessert Party and Bake Sale was held. This had the stated objectives of growing and working together as a group and raising money for the organization. This became an annual event. Sisters who had attended for 25 years were honoured at the Auxiliary's 36th birthday celebration. Every birthday after that, sisters who had attended for 25 years were guests at the dinner and presented with a corsage and a gift. Sick and bereaved were also remembered at these functions. In the 1980s the Ladies Auxiliary continued to support the UCT Brandon Council #448 in the Annual Travellers Day Parade, Grand Sessions, and other functions.
In the early 1990s the United Commercial Travelers voted to allow women to join the Councils. This marked the beginning of the end for the Auxiliaries. However, ladies who had no connection to a Council could join an Auxiliary now whereas before only a wife, sister, or granddaughter of a Council member could join.
The final Grand Auxiliary Sessions were held in Brandon in May 2003. By this point only three auxiliaries were still active across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta and all had difficulty recruiting new members. Most of the membership at this time was elderly and unable to take office or work at teas and other such events. Calgary and Regina's Auxiliaries were down to less than twelve members. Brandon still had more than 90 on the membership roll but only about 20 attended meetings regularly and it was becoming difficult to fill Officer positions.
The final Dessert and Bake Sale was held in October 2002 and was the 40th such event. With the demise of the Grand Auxiliary in 2003, it was decided that Brandon would continue to operate; however, after a year it was decided that Brandon would no longer operate as a formal auxiliary. Monthly luncheons would now be held with December being a Christmas Party supper. The last formal meeting was held in the Parkview Seniors complex on March 22, 2004.
The money in the Grand Auxiliary's account was distributed to the three remaining auxiliaries based on how much had been contributed over the preceding ten years. Brandon received $2,500 and had about $5,000 in their account. When formal meetings were discontinued it was decided to donate $5,000 to the “A Bed for You, A Bed for Me” campaign of the Brandon General Hospital. Approximately $1,100 was given to their Chairs from Mentally Challenged and Builders of Women to use as they pleased.
All members on the membership roll were contacted and asked if they wished to remain members. Several decided not to but 50 members remained. Each member under 80 paid a $5 membership fee in April or October. Beginning in 2004, $1 was collected from every member that attended a luncheon to pay for stamps and cards sent to those who were ill, lost a loved one, turned 80, etc. Fundraising is limited to selling Riverview Curling Club Lottery Calendars for which the Ladies Auxiliary #112 received $4. In 2005 $128 was collected and $25 donated to five different charities.
In 2006, sisters of the Auxiliary still worked at the Fairview Daffodil Tea for Cancer, put on the January birthday party at Hillcrest Place, worked the Big Craft Sale at the Keystone Centre in October, worked with the Salvation Army Kettles at Christmas, and sold carnatons for multiple sclerosis and daffodils for the Cancer Society. Luncheons held averaged about 20 members and 25 at Christmas.
Records were created and collected by the members of the Brandon United Commercial Travelers Ladies Auxiliary #112. The collection was donated to the S.J. McKee Archives in March 2007.
Scope and Content
Collection consists of records that document the origin, activities, and ultimately the disbandment of the Brandon Ladies Auxiliary #112 of the Order of the United Commercial Travelers of America. These records were created and accumulated during the nearly 70 year existence of the UCT Ladies Auxiliary #112.
The collection consists of the minutes of their meetings from November 1939 to November 1991, photographs of the members, and sign-in books from October 1937 to March 1991. It also contains the account ledger from April 1972 to March 1997. Several scrapbooks containing photographs and newspaper clippings related to the activities and members of the Ladies Auxiliary and the United Commercial Travelers, spanning the nearly 70 lifespan of the organization, are also included in the collection.
Both the United Commercial Travelers Council #448 and the United Commercial Travelers Ladies Auxiliary #112 were very active in raising funds for various charitable organizations. Money was raised for the Brandon General Hospital, as well as for George Fitton School to assist with their special education program. Organizations such as the Red Cross, the Canadian Cancer Society, special needs organizations, United Way, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and several other organizations all received the benefits of UCT fundraising. Scholarships were also given out. Teas, dessert and bake sales, sewing and knitting, rummage sales, Walk-a-thons, bazaars, and raffles were all used to raise money for charitable donations.
Collection also contains various artifacts including a gavel, the original charter of the Ladies Auxiliary #112, nomination balls, officer's badges, a Bible, and the cloth used for the draping of a deceased member's charter. Also included is a handbook detailing the rituals carried out by the United Commercial Travelers of America.
History/biographical information provided by Sister Bernice Nerbas of the UCT Ladies Auxiliary #112. Copies of their history are found in the collection. Description by Joseph Dauphinais (October 2013).