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When a group of Sault women dressed up like men, started a club (6 photos)

87 years after its formation, Sault’s Elettra Marconi Ladies Society keeps giving back to community, preserving Italian culture

“The reward of being involved in this society is not something you can touch, the reward is the emotions I feel, the passion I have for my culture, my heritage. I was born in Italy, I came here in ‘56, and joined the Marconi in 1970. I have come to love this place as a home.”

That from Ida Simon, Elettra Marconi Ladies Society president, speaking to SooToday.

The Elettra Marconi Ladies Society was formed in 1932 when Anna Bernardi led a group of female Italian immigrants, dressed up as men, and attended an all-male G. Marconi Club meeting.

“They wanted to know what was going on at the meetings. They sat down at the meeting, they wanted to get an idea, then they turned around and started up the Elettra Marconi Ladies Society (Elettra the name of famous Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi’s daughter) with Anna Bernardi as the founder and first honorary president, with Olga Campana as the first president,” Ida informed us.

The original Guglielmo Marconi Society was established in 1912, formed to honour the achievements and memory of Guglielmo Marconi, preserve and promote Italian culture and heritage in the Sault, encourage and support youth participation in sports and recreational activities and create programs and activities for members and their families.

“The club brings together Italian people and people of any ethnic origin, we have functions and fundraisers, and the money we make goes back into the community,” Ida said.

“We (specifically, the Elettra Marconi Ladies Society) currently have over 460 members, over 300 who are active and another 150 who we call life term members who don’t have to pay their dues any more because of their age and years of service, and monthly we’ve been getting more and more new applications and younger members coming on board,” Ida said.

Having new, younger members join up is a positive sign at a time when many service clubs are trying to increase their numbers.

“We were here a lot with weddings, graduations, baptisms, confirmations, showers, stag and doe parties...the Italians are well known for their food, their arts, soccer, we’re a fun, friendly group of people who love to come together and socialize,” Ida said.

“To me, that is the most important part of being not only president, but a member of the club and bringing more people on board to come and enjoy. This building where we meet was built on contributors, the men and women who built the old hall and this was added’s open to anyone who wants to enjoy our fellowship.”

The Elettra Marconi Ladies Society, on Wednesday, March 20, will be presenting $20,000, to be spread out between eight local non-profit agencies, as a result of the group’s fundraising work.

Those agencies include Sault Area Hospital, Harvest Algoma, Ken Brown Recovery Home, Tracy’s Dream, St. Vincent Place, Phoenix Rising, Twinkie Foundation and Sault Ste. Marie Crime Stoppers.

The cheque presentation will be followed by pizza and beer at the Marconi Club.

And that’s just one example of how the Elettra ladies give back.

Throughout the year, the Elettra Marconi Ladies Society members volunteer at the Sault Ste. Marie Soup Kitchen Community Centre, the F.J. Davey Home’s Tuck Shop (where concessions, crafts, health and beauty aids and small gift items may be purchased), organize a friendship meal at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, a meal at the Neighbourhood Resource Centre, a Venetian Carnival, an arts show and bake sale, mixed bocce tournament, Mother’s Day banquet, a Northern Ontario Italian Ladies Association convention (normally held in September, but to be held in October in 2019), a Halloween party for members, a combined annual awards banquet with the G. Marconi Club and a variety of Christmas activities in December.   

“We’re a group of busy bees,” Ida smiled.


Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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