Westminster Belles

Westmineter Belles was a women's group that met in the evening so that working women could attend. The purpose of the group was largely social and they welcomed guest speakers to bring interesting and informative topics.

The Westminster Belles participated in the annual Christmas bazaar and made a dried soup mix which was sold in a mug. These were very attractive items for the bazaar. The recipe and instructions which are seen here were tied with a ribbon onto each mug. For some years the Belles made the soup in a large kettle and gave out samples to those browsing the bazaar.
Westminster Belles
Front Row (L-R): Velma Smith, Rev. Shirley Gale, Ruth Barnett, Janet Harrison.
Back (L - R): Eileen Renton, June Kaethler, Dorothy Oldham, Marion Briggs

The Soup


1/2 cup dry split peas
1/3 cup beef bouillon granules
1/4 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup dry lentils
1/4 cup dried minced onion
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
1/2 cup alphabet macaroni or other smal] macaroni


1 pound ground beef
3 quarts water
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained.


In a 1-1/2 pint jar, layer the first eight ingredients in the order listed.

Seal tightly.

Yield: 1 batch

Carefully remove macaroni from top of jar and set aside.

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, brown beef and drain.

Add the water, tomatoes, and Soup Mix; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

Add the macaroni you set aside, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until macaroni, peas, lentils, and barley are tender.

Yield: 16 servings (4 quarts).

Westminster Belles History

In October, 1996, a new women's group started at Westminster-St. Paul's - appropriately named "Westminster Belles".

The concept was to form a group for women in the congregation who wished to meet for fellowship, to hear from interesting speakers, to experience new crafts, and to discover the stories of women in Guelph.

At the start, Ruth Barnett accepted the job of Convener and she has faithfully continued in that role.

Activities and Speakers: In the first year, we had the pleasure of learning from guests Karen Plater, who spoke about Presbyterian Missions, Elly Bouwman who gave us tips on colour selections for our wardrobes, June Klooster who provided information about gardening, Kim Middleton, a long-distance swimmer who gave us insight into the gruelling sport, Janice Schneider, Director of the Mennonite Bell Choir, who provided us with a demonstration of bell ringing, which, in fact, was influential in the start of the Hand Bell Choir here at Westminster St. Paul's.

Through the years, we have heard from Joan Wiffen about Hospice Care, Robin Lee Norris with information for women and the law, with an emphasis on the value of preparing our wills, Sue Aiken from the Guelph Humane Society, Mindy Ternan, Director of Wyndham House, which is a safe home for girls who want to remain in school but cannot live with their families.

We learned about "the heart and women's health" and the goals of "Guelph Make a Wish Foundation" which helps make the wishes of seriously ill children come true. Fran Steinlin described her work as a nurse-practitioner providing services to patients in their homes.

A memorable celebration of the Scottish Heritage of many of our members was led by Lynn Boland-Richardson who described the significance and history of the tartans, the septs and clans. We were treated to a variety of Scottish "goodies".
Rev. Herb Gale taught us about the "seasons" of the church year - the names, colours, symbols and rituals. We were shown a slide- show of a number of church banners designed and made by Herb.

Peg Bauman described life among the Mennonites among whom she grew up.

We initiated the preparation of bottled soup-mixes (beef and chicken) for sale at the Bazaar. The soup jars became an annual activity for the Belles. Through the years, we also picked up some skills with assorted craft-making and decorating tips.

In 2000, we spread our wings and presented our first (of several) very successful Fashion Shows.

Some of the most memorable events were stories told to us by our members and church friends - stories of travels topping the list. In 1997, we heard from the late Doris Gowan, about about her round-the-world trip with Bill. June Kaethler showed slides of her trip with Nick to west Africa. Ruth Barnett provided lots of stories about her trip to Australia. Cheryl Vickers took us on an exciting trip to Papua-New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.

Our most recent guest was Nazee Hamidi, who came from Iran (Persia). Nazee introduced us to her home-land through a series of beautiful photographs, and gave us a glimpse of life in that country. Some of Nazee's exotic Iranian recipes are in our new cookbook,

The past twelve years have been a wonderful experience for all the women who have been members of "the Belles". At this point in our history, the Westminster Belles group will be taking some time to make decisions about the future of the group. It is our hope that the "Belles" will continue in the fall, with a new energy and direction.

(Submitted by Janet Harrison, Secretary)