Evelyn Beban Lewis: 2020 Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Canadian Woman of the Year Award

Article submitted by Louise Smith

Former Cowansville resident, Evelyn Beban Lewis, age 99, was the recipient of the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada’s 2020 Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Canadian Woman of the Year Award. Candidates were submitted from across Canada, and Evelyn was chosen. She was supposed to receive the accolades and the certificate at the Quebec Annual Convention of Women’s Institutes in June 2020. Due to Covid-19 the Convention was cancelled. Rather than wait to see if there will be an annual convention in June 2021, the certificate and well wishes were sent to Evelyn’s new residence in Kirkland.

Evelyn Beban Lewis with her certificate.

Joan Holthe, the President of the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada, sent a letter of congratulations. Joan was to have been at the June 2020 convention to present Evelyn with her award. Covid-19 changed all that. When the Montreal area lowers its colour zone, several members of the Fordyce branch of the Women’s Institutes of Quebec (which meets in Cowansville) will go to visit Evelyn to partake of cake and tea as an additional homage to this remarkable woman.

Fordyce WI Branch member - Evelyn Lewis

Evelyn was a dedicated teacher for many years at Cowansville High School which later became Heroes’ Memorial School. She derived great joy from teaching and she bolstered the self-esteem of her students. After she retired, she volunteered for many years, until her seventies, as a music teacher for the Kindergarten classes at Heroes’ Memorial. She has supported various end of the school yearbook prizes.

As a founding member of the Heroes’ Memorial Bursary Fund, Evelyn helped support students who attended Heroes’ Memorial in their post-secondary studies. She has been an active member of the Cowansville Chapter, #17, of the Order of the Eastern Star, for seventy years. Up until two years ago, she has held an office for each of the fifteen years prior to that. She was the Worthy Matron of the chapter in 1953 and she also wrote about the Order of the Eastern Star for the Sherbrooke Record, until about two years ago.

Evelyn was also a continually active member of the Trinity Anglican Church in Cowansville. She was a member for her entire time of living in the town. She took on many roles as a member of the church and was a backbone of the church.

Promoting Women’s Issues…

Evelyn has been a member of the Women’s Institute for over sixty years. She was always on hand to be of help. She oversaw communications and she wrote monthly articles about the Women’s Institutes, both her branch and beyond, for the Sherbrooke Record. For her whole life, Evelyn has supported and promoted women’s issues and various organizations in the Townships. She is a wonderful role model for what a professional woman can achieve during her career time and afterwards as a volunteer for her community. On top of this, Evelyn successfully raised a happy family. With a profile such as this, it is no wonder that Evelyn Beban Lewis was selected as Canada’s Woman of the Year. Congratulations Evelyn!

Close-up: Evelyn's certificate.