Everyone knows the Border City is known for its oil. But what is there for the wives who are left to take care of the home? One club was founded on the belief of relating to each other and forming a sisterhood.
The Oil Wives Club of Lloydminster, which is part of the Association of Oil Wives Clubs, welcomes women whose husbands work in the patch and are left to run the household.
“We have about 35 members (in Lloydminster), but the whole association has about 700 to 750 (members),” said Tasha Loewen member and soon-to-be vice president of the club. “It’s surprising how many people don’t know about us in the community. We’re a social club for women whose husbands work in the oil field.”
What started in 1951 in Redwater, Alta. by Dean Hunter, has now grown to span across three provinces, British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, and consists of 28 individual clubs.
Loewen said the groups were formed in response to the women being left at home and wanting to find “fellowship with other women in the community.”
“Husbands were gone a lot back then (in the ‘50s), and now they’re not gone as much, but husbands still get transferred everywhere and it’s nice to get transferred to a city with an oil wives club,” Loewen said. “You can immediately join and it’s a group of women that relates to you. We’re really just a friendship club that is based on bringing women in and encouraging friendships among us.”
The group meets regularly to have a monthly dinner, but also organizes outside social activities to help foster the friendships between the women.
“A lot of the women that come to us are really new, or, have been here for four years and have made no friends, which is so common, you would be surprised how many women didn’t even now there was such a thing.
“In this type of community where it’s so heavy oil, and the husbands are gone all the time, it’s nice to just know you have other women to rely on,” Loewen said.
All oil wives are welcome to join the club, which forms a great diversity in age range. According to Loewen, the Oil Wives Club Lloydminster has members aged anywhere from 22 years old to 72 years old.
“I have learned something from every woman in this club,” Loewen said. “(And) I always say that to new members coming in, especially the younger girls, because they don’t know how they’re going to relate to a 60 year old woman who has lived this (oil) life for 40 years.”
As part of the association, all detachments meet for a yearly convention in October to convene with the other wives and to smooth out any business details for the association.
“We all get together for a weekend and do a general meeting, but ultimately it’s a sisterhood kind of weekend,” Loewen said. This year’s convention will be held in Regina.
Karen Ebel, president of the Lloydminster club, was a part of the Oil Wives Club in Brooks, but once she got the word her and her husband would be moving to Lloydminster, she was immediately put in touch with the Lloydminster Oil Wives Club.
“When I moved up to Lloyd from Brooks I knew nobody,” Ebel said. “I told the girls here I was coming up, they gave them my phone number, they picked me up for my first meeting and brought me home again and told me where the grocery stores are, which doctors, which dentists, and just helped me get accustomed to the city.”
Ebel is grateful for the club because while living the oil life, “it makes it hard for the women to have that one night out.”
“The work leaves us women at home to man the fort, you’re doing all the things with the house, all the things with the kids, it’s like being a single parent but not really,” Ebel said.
“To have that one night out with other women who understand what it’s like to do this on your own, they come around, they understand. And that’s what makes it worth it,” Ebel said.
When Ebel’s kids were little, she recalled her oil wives nights being her night and her night only.
“When my kids were little, that was my night, my night to go out and have fun,” she said.
Life-long friendships are formed through the club all thanks to the oil wives creed, “a smile, a handclasp, a word of welcome, these are links in our chain of friendship. This we believe!”
“I have met some life-long friends in this club that I will be friends for life with no matter where I go,” Loewen said. “I bet you a lot of the other women would say the same thing.”
For those interested in signing up, visit https://www.oilwives.com or e-mail Tasha Loewen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I try to do a new members lunch at the start of the year just to get women who can meet a lesser-quantity of members at one time, and sort of feel comfortable to come to that first meeting,” Loewen said. “It’s a pretty daunting task to come to that first dinner with a room full of women you don’t know what you’re going to walk into.”
Loewen is looking for a boost in membership in the upcoming years.
“I know oil is tough right now, but I really just want women to know that we’re here,” Loewen concluded.