IODE was founded in 1900 by Margaret Polson Murray of Montreal, who saw a need for a federation of women to promote patriotism, loyalty and service to others. She sent telegrams to the mayors of major Canadian cities urging them to call together the women of their communities. The first chapter was formed in Fredericton, New Brunswick, on January 15th, 1900. Primary Chapters were formed in quick succession across the country. The Head Office was established in Toronto and the federation was incorporated in 1901. ECHOES, the IODE magazine, was first published in 1902. Since 1900, IODE chapters have responded generously to whatever need was presented.
- Members across the country raise approximately $3,000,000 every year and reinvest it in Canada’s children, families and communities
- During the two World Wars, members raised $12,000,000 to purchase hospitals, hospital ships, ambulances, bomber and fighter aircrafts. They also contributed thousands of volunteer hours, relief to prisoners of war and refugee camps, and libraries and canteens for servicemen.
- In 1939, IODE was the first Canadian organization to send civilian relief to Britain and continued with the adoption of two children’s hospitals there.
- Originated The Children’s Hospital of South Western Ontario formerly (War Memorial Children’s Hospital, London, Ontario)
- IODE has assisted in communities in Northern Ontario, the Northwest Territories, and Labrador with: Snack Pack, Labra-Book, Toys for the North, Footwear for the North, the Labrador Industrial Arts Program, and the Labrador Substance Abuse Program.
- IODE was the first organization to open treatment beds and treatment centres for tuberculosis
- Helped to establish and sponsor Girl Guide Units across Canada
- Organized first sale of Christmas seals