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Adelaide Hunter Hoodless

Adelaide Hunter Hoodless

Adelaide Hunter was born on a farm in St. George, Ontario, in 1857 and obtained her schooling at the Ontario Ladies' College. She married the owner of the Hoodless Furniture Company, settled in Hamilton and gave birth to four children, one of whom died in infancy. It has been said that her grief over the death of her infant son from contaminated milk, which she felt could have been prevented, led Hoodless to campaign for the improvement of women's education through the teaching of domestic science.

Hoodless balanced her responsibilities to her family and household duties with a growing commitment to a number of social movements, while gaining prominence in local and national women's organizations. She helped found the National Council of the YMCA, the Victorian Order of Nurses and the National Council of Women of Canada, and is considered to be the founder of the Women's institutes that spread across Canada and eventually around the world.

Hoodless persuaded the Ontario government to support the domestic science movement in Canada, enabling her to publish her first book in 1898, Public School Domestic Science. This was the first book of its kind in Canada. Hoodless also opened a private school, the Ontario Normal School of Domestic Science and Art, in Hamilton.

On one of her many tours and speaking engagements, Hoodless encountered James Mills, president of the Ontario Agricultural College and Experimental Farm (1880-1904), who shared her desire to provide domestic science education to rural women. Mills, having little support from the legislature for his new vision, turned to a private benefactor, Sir William Macdonald, a tobacco magnate who was known for his financial support of new educational initiatives. Macdonald was not initially receptive, so Mills called on Hoodless and James Robertson, a former OAC dairy professor, to assist with a campaign to secure the required funds. Hoodless met with Macdonald in 1901 and successfully acquired the funds to establish the Macdonald institute and Macdonald Hall, which served as a residence for the female students. In 1903, Hoodless' Ontario Normal School of Domestic Science and Art closed and moved to Guelph to become part of the Macdonald Institute.

Macdonald Institute 1903.