Over 120 years ago the women who attended the first St. James Anglican Church on Tylehurst St. decided to form an organization and they called themselves the “Ladies’ Aid”. One of the first members was Mrs. Archibald Wright, the former Mary Ramsey.
Mary Wright’s connection to the Parish of St. James started when she was a child. She first attended St. James Anglican on May 29, 1855, the day the church was consecrated. In 1869, when she was 19 years old, Mary Ramsey married Archibald Wright. Mary and her children started to attend the little log church in St. James 12 years later, after she and her husband had moved from their Main St. home to property south of the Assiniboine River. They frequently forded the Assiniboine to go to the services. Her six children walked across the Railway Bridge to attend the schoolhouse near the church.
On October 7, 1887 the Ladies’ Aid in St. James became the Woman’s Auxiliary. Mary, a charter member, was the third president of the WA. Who held office from 1910-1928.
Each year she hosted the annual tea in her garden. The property was surrounded by lovely lilac bushes and the guests would leave the event carrying huge bouquets of the purple and white blooms. The tradition of the “Lilac Tea” at Mary Wright’s continued until her death in 1939. For the next few years the tea was held in other members’ gardens and then in old Roseberry Hall. Since the mid 50s the annual event has been held in the Parish Hall of St. James Anglican Church on Collegiate St.
The parish continues to remember Mary Wright each May when the tea or luncheon is held. Although her grandchildren, great grandchildren, and their families are scattered across the continent, a few family members remain in Winnipeg and they are invited each year.
The 121st Annual Mary Wright Lilac Tea was held at St. James Anglican Church, 195 Collegiate St. on Saturday May 10th from noon until 3:00 pm. We enjoyed the fancy sandwiches and dainties, as well as a plant and book sale. A Quilt Display by Croft House reminded us of the quilts made and donated by Mary Wright and her friends during the early years of the organization.