A Guide Meeting: 1917

Looking for ways to being Guiding History to life? Why not try holding a Guide meeting as it would have been in the past! Guides can take part in heritage activities and learn about Guiding history in a fun and interactive way.

The following is based on “A Model Evening” by G.M. Cobb, in The Girl Guides’ Gazette, April 1917.

Meeting is held 5.30pm to 7.30pm.

5.30 – On the sound of the whistle the Company “falls in.” The Leaders then call the roll, prove their Patrols, and inspect their kit and general smartness. At the end of ten minutes they leave their Patrols and report to the Captain.

  • The week before, let the girls know you will be using a whistle instead of your usual signals the following week.
  • Girls go to their Patrol Corners, Leaders take attendance, collect dues, etc. (your usual routine).
  • Inspection could consist of wearing uniform, proper shoes, water bottle (specifics will depend on your Unit). You could also provide hair ties and ask anyone with long hair to tie it back (this was required in the past!)
  • If your group likes to dress up, they could dress like Guides in 1917. Canadian Guides at this time wore a long navy blue skirt, white middy blouse, and blue scarf.
  • If you have time, make your girls Shoulder Knots in their Patrol colours. (I have done this and the ‘knots’ were worn for the rest of the year!). Shoulder Knots were worn by Guides until 1964.


5.40 – Company notices are then given out; this is followed by Patrol inspection, each Leader being held responsible for her patrol, and ready to explain absences, etc.

  • Hold your opening ceremony, make any announcements, share information for the evening

5.45 – The next three-quarters of an hour the Leaders are responsible for the work. Each Leader takes a different subject, such as Second-Class, Proficiency Badge work, Recruits, and so on. The Leader may choose whatever she things most interesting or most needed by her Guides, and can detail them off for work with another Leader, if not advanced enough, or too far on, for work with their own Patrol. After half an hour each Guide must return to her own Leader, and the remaining quarter of an hour is spent in drill. When the Leaders’ three-quarters of an hour is up, they leave their Patrols “at ease” and report to the Captain.

  • If possible, have Patrol Leaders, 3rd-Year Guides, Pathfinders or Rangers lead activities rather than Guiders.
  • Activities could be based on traditional Guide skills such as Semaphore, Morse Code, Trail Signs, Tracking and Stalking, Knots, First Aid, Map and Compass, Fire Lighting, Camp Gadgets, or Weather Lore.
  • Drill could include learning hand and whistle signals (very useful at camp!)

6.30 – The next three-quarters of an hour is given to games, varied by ball, and musical drills, Patrol competitions, any display work, and singing, the last being popular.

7.15 – The Company sit in Patrols, and the last quarter of an hour is given to the serious side of  Guideship – debates on difficulties, talks on the Guide Law, and how best to follow the Great Guide, and the parade closes with prayer, and the Vesper Hymn for our men at the front, “Tonight,” and then the “Dismiss.”

  • End your meeting with discussion about the Guide’s experiences during the evening, or share more tidbits from our past. Explore this blog for more interesting pieces of Guiding History.

Canadian Girl Guides – 1917

A report on Guiding in Canada by Lord Baden-Powell appeared in the September 1917 issue of The Girl Guides’ Gazette

     We are going ahead in Canada. Most gratifying reports have reached us as the National Headquarters to the following effect: –
     During the past year no less than eighty new companies have been raised, comprising some 3,000 Guides and Guiders, and many more are promised. Altogether there are 299 registered Companies with a membership of close upon 10,000 Guides.
     Other societies are working in friendly co-operation with us, including the Daughters of the Empire, the Women’s Institute, the Girls’ Friendly Society, the YWCA, and many public and private schools and Sunday Schools of all denominations. Their reports on the value of the training are most encouraging.
     During the year over 3,000 Tenderfoot Badges have been issued, and 2,650 Proficiency Badges have been earned.
     Officers’ Training Classes have been started with excellent results in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, and Vancouver.
     An increasing number of older girls have been joining the Movement as Senior Guides from offices, shops and factories. During the summer camps have been arranged in a great many districts, and were very successful. In several places, instead of their usual camp activities, the Guides offered their services to farmers for fruit picking, etc., and have done much good for the country, for the farmers, and for themselves thereby.
     In many cases also the Guides have started “War plots” for producing food. They have also done a great deal of work for the soldiers at the Front in the way of making clothing and supplying delicacies, and have organised 22 centres for carrying on this work.
     It will be remembered that last year they earned $830 and contributed it to the Girl Guide Hut Fund in France.
     Lady Pellat, the Chief Commissioner for Canada, held a most successful rally at Toronto on the 24th of June, at which over 600 Toronto Guides were present, together with others from neighbouring districts.
     A splendid programme of Guide activities was presented, together with an exhibition on a large scale of things made by the Guides.

Lady Pellat presenting Florence Hardy with the Silver Fish, 1915

     The first Silver Fish in Canada was won by Guide Florence Hardy, 7th Toronto Company, and the first Silver Cross for gallantry was won by Guide Ethel Leaver, of New Liskeard.
     Early one morning last summer her home caught fire during her parents’ absence, and with great presence of mind she managed to rescue four small brothers and sisters, escaping herself with scorched hair.
     The Silver Cross was also awarded to Guide Grace Tysoe, 2nd Victoria Company, for saving the life of a companion who, while swimming in deep water, was seized with cramp, and would probably have lost her life had not Grace Tysoe immediately gone to her rescue.
     A Badge of Merit was awarded to Guide Jean McNish for her presence of mind in rescuing a small boy who fell from a boat into water much beyond his depth.
     Her Excellency the Duchess of Devonshire has accepted the Presidency of the Girl Guides in Canada, and in each of the Provinces of the Dominion the wife of the Lieutenant-Governor has accepted the office of Vice-President of the Dominion Council.
     Well done, Canada!