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In the ’20s, Toronto Club members were outspoken in their support of such wide-ranging causes as: the high cost of potatoes; the lack of women hired as postal clerks; lodging houses exclusively for single business women; the flood of anti-British films coming from south of the border; poor working conditions in some factories; “oleo margarine” (no explanation as to whether the Club was for or against); the need for the appointment of a woman magistrate and a women's court.

We've been involved in many issues over the years, but our focus has been primarily on issues affecting women.

As late as 1928, the assessment rolls in Ontario listed only three choices under occupation for women – spinster, married, or widow – designations that the Toronto Club fought to have changed.

We sent a representation to the Health League of Canada, to present our Club's desire that all men and women be medically examined before marriage, and were gratified at the reply from the Minister of National Health, Major Brock Chisholm, M.D., approving of our support that legislation calling for this measure be introduced in Canada.

Club members sent a resolution to CFBPWC to petition the government for women offenders to be accorded the same treatment as men, i.e., to be placed in regional detention institutions in different provinces instead of being brought to a central jail at Kingston.

As far back as the year of 1961, resolutions were forwarded urging the Federal Government to enquire into the laws of Canada as they affected the dissolution of marriage and to recommend a clarification and amendments to bring these laws into conformity with the realities of Canadian life. At the same time we urged the Federal Government to appoint a Royal Commission to enquire into and report on the laws in Canada affecting abortion and to remove abortion from the Criminal Code.

In October, a discussion was held on “Automation and the Working Woman”. Even 22 years ago it was apparent the effect automation would have on women workers.

Among resolutions presented to Premier Robarts and his cabinet: we did not think it fair to men, that women be able to opt out of jury duty, unless they had a good excuse such as illness or little children. This finally became law.

Premier John Robarts surrounded by members of BPW Clubs of Ontario

A letter was received from the CBC requesting the Club not to give support to a Declaration by Canadian Women sent to women‟s organizations expressing disapproval of the CBC‟s programming policies.

Once again, the Club spearheaded a petition for regional detention centres for women.

Margaret Ashdown and Nazla Dane with Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson

We presented a resolution to CFBPWC urging the federal government to appoint a royal commission to study the status of women in Canada. This was a most important resolution. Further to this, the government did appoint seven persons to the Royal Commission on the Status of Women.

One appointee was our own Elsie Gregory MacGill, who was also a signatory to its report to the government. This commission travelled across Canada for two years interviewing representatives from all women's groups. In all, over 200 resolutions were presented to the government.

Janet Follett is given a cordial handshake by Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau

The Toronto Club's resolution to the CFBPWC requested the government's immediate action to implement the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission on Children to remove the status of illegitimacy.

In January, the Ontario Ombudsman, Arthur Maloney, refused to appear at a Public Forum on Rape at the St. Lawrence Centre to present his views and explain his statements. We sent a letter to his office regarding his damaging statements on the subject of rape victims.

On February 23, there was an Open Forum on Family Law Reform. The Toronto Club‟s resolutions to the Ontario Conference that year addressed the unified family court, bank directorships and sex stereotyping in elementary school readers.

In October, a campaign directed letters to Premier Davis regarding daycare. At the urging of the Public Affairs committee, letters were sent to manufacturers either denouncing offensive commercials or lauding those in good taste.

The Club became an affiliated member of CARAL (Canadian Abortion Rights Action League).

Ottawa Mayor Charlotte Whitton in discussion with Elsie Gregory MacGill and Nazla Dane


Liz Neville and Elsie Gregory MacGill from the Toronto club