The Women's Recreation Association and Viqueen Lodge

Western's cabin on Sinclair Island has a storied history
Meri-Jo Borzilleri
11 young women sit for a group portrait in 1948
The Women's Recreation Association Commission in 1948.

In 1930, the Women’s Athletic Association became Western’s official organization for women’s sporting activities, like Play Days or Sports Days, seasonal sport turnouts, parties, trips and an annual winter carnival. The group, renamed the Women’s Recreation Association in 1940, was open to all women enrolled at then-named Western Washington College of Education if they paid dues and passed some sort of initiation ritual that was probably not endorsed by the college.

“The purpose of this organization shall be to provide opportunities for recreational and social activities for all women, The WRA’s constitution proclaimed, “to foster good citizenship; to foster college spirit; to inspire good sportsmanship and a love for playing the game.”

Best perk: use of a small cabin on Sinclair Island, reachable only by boat. In the 1920s, before the WAA became official, it purchased a tract of land with the cabin, named the Viqueen (a play on “Viking”) Lodge. The property was a popular destination for annual trips, ostensibly taken to perform basic maintenance and repairs, but also to recreate. Heartily.

The WRA was eventually dissolved due to several factors, including the passage of Title IX, the merger of the Men’s and Women’s Physical Education Departments, formalization of women’s varsity athletics and new activity groups on campus.

The Viqueen Lodge, however, still stands. Owned and operated by the Associated Students of Western Washington University, it can be rented by students and alumni. But oh, if those walls could talk.

A group of women pose for a photo on the steps of Viqueen Lodge in 1940
A trip to Viqueen Lodge in 1940.
several women recline in the sun on a rocky beach in 1940
The Women's Recreation Association sponsored regular trips to Viqueen Lodge, like this trip in 1940.