To foster throughout the greater Hamilton area an interest in all matters of public concern in order:
• to strengthen Canadian unity and identity
• to encourage the education and promotion of Canadian heritage and history
• to foster an appreciation and awareness of Canadian culture and traditions to new Canadians
Canadian Clubs are unique. The Honourable Vincent Massey described them as forming “…the only organization in Canada that exists for the primary purpose of promoting a faith in our country and a love for it.” Back in the 1890’s, the “Canadian identity” we take for granted, did not exist. We saw ourselves as English, Italian, Chinese, or whatever our country of origin, not as “Canadian”.
The Canadian Club originated in Hamilton in 1893. Canadian Clubs formed quickly across Canada. A national organization was created in 1909, and incorporated into a national “Association of Canadian Clubs” by an Act of Parliament in 1939. On May 3, 1912, the first public meeting of the Women’s Canadian Club of Hamilton was held. It appears that the women were welcomed as guests in the former club before deciding to start their own club with the assistance of members from the original club.
The women who formed the first club consisted of forty-three ladies, who elected a seven-member executive and six councillors. It should be noted that, unlike today, for many years members were required to be British subjects.
Their first project was a recital held to benefit the Titanic victims. The substantial sum of $54 was raised. A second project was the mounting of a bronze plaque on the Pigott Building honouring the location of the first Canadian Club.
In addition to informing members of the issues of the day through a variety of speakers, the Women’s Canadian Club of Hamilton has also undertaken activities to promote a broad, healthy nationalism. Over the years, support has been given to students, new Canadians, artists, authors, events celebrating local, regional, provincial and national history and projects that foster and promote pride in Canada and Canadians. In 1967, Canada’s centennial year, we helped to welcome our Prime Minister, former Hamiltonian Lester B. Pearson, who attended the 75th anniversary celebrations of the Canadian Club of Hamilton.
We continue this work in various ways. Until the recent demise of the program we encouraged students in an appreciation of Canadian culture through the Encounters With Canada program. Today we are proud to sponsor the Civic Leadership Program, run by the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, to support Purses for Margaret and to make donations to many of our speakers’ favourite charities. The club donated a painting to the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the flag poles on Jackson Square and an epergne to Dundurn Castle. Members of the Women’s Canadian Club of Hamilton participated in swearing-in ceremonies for new Canadians, pre-pandemic. This particular activity was dear to the hearts of our members, as each ceremony reaffirms the privileges we enjoy and the responsibilities we share as Canadians.
Our club has donated its records and documents to the safe keeping of the Hamilton Public Library. There are many original books with meeting minutes written in beautiful longhand script, discussion materials, copies of speeches, our famous signature book, as well as a wide variety of ephemera.
As with everything, change is unavoidable. However, we still have a desire to strengthen Canadian unity and identity, encourage the preservation and promotion of Canadian heritage and history, and to extend the knowledge and understanding of Canadians to the people of other nations.
Board of Directors 2022 – 2023
President: Louise Noel-Ambrose
Secretary: Ruth Pearson
Treasurer: Lee Gowers
Past-President: Susan Ricketts
Citizenship Court: Christina Begley
Membership: January Bailey Will
Publications: Lee Gowers
Councillor: Alison Buffett
Councillor: Diane Chiarelli
Councillor: Pat Saunders
The Historic Signature Book
The Women’s Canadian Club of Hamilton is deeply indebted to its founders for their foresight in establishing the Historic Signature Book, into which speakers have been entering their names and comments since the club was formed in 1912.
The book has undergone few changes over the years, save those necessitated by age. Due to wear, the cover has been replaced several times.
The original book was present at every meeting until early 2005, when concern arose over its preservation. At that time, a conservator made a digitized archival copy and a replica was created for day-to-day use. The replica is dutifully carried to every meeting, where each new speaker completes an entry.
Once the replica was prepared, the original was entrusted to the Hamilton Public Library where it may be viewed upon request. In coming years, the new signature pages will be added to the old, and the book will continue to be honoured.