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Let's Get Involved!

Over the years our members have been involved in many diverse projects, committees and activities arranged for no better reason than fun for all.

Fundraising was a major preoccupation in the 1920s, as now in the 1980s. It was common practice for the Club to rent an entire theatre, such as the old “Princess,” for a night, sometimes resulting in a profit to the Club of $3,000.

In 1920, the magnificent sum of $6,000 was raised from one bazaar alone. Not all fundraising ventures proved to be as profitable, however; a dance held that same year was briefly recorded in the minutes as follows:

Receipts $27
Expenses $22
Profit $5

One might think women's interest in sport has only just developed over the last two decades. Not so for the women of the Toronto BPW Club. On July 29, 1930, Mrs. Crawford, Sports Convenor, reported the following:

“Two games of golf have been held, one at Rouge Hill and one at Georgetown. Swimming classes have been started and there was very good attendance. Arrangements have been made for badminton at Holy Trinity Court, Mondays 5:00 to 10:00, Wednesdays 5:00 to 8:00. Enthusiasm has died out for bowling, but it has been suggested that ping-pong be taken up.”

Ethel Butler

The 1933-34 Club years proved to be a very successful one for the club financially. In the inspiring words of the President, Ethel Butler:

“The things accomplished during the year are an indication of what can be achieved when everyone puts shoulder to wheel. No organization can stand still; it must go either forward or backward. As we did not wish to do the latter, the former could only be achieved by each member's assuming a definite responsibility for her part in maintaining and carrying out the essential purposes of the club: to promote the interest of business and professional women and to be of mutual helpfulness among the members.”

Ethel Butler, President, aptly summarized the activities and achievements of the Club at the annual meeting held on May 7, 1935:

“In reviewing the work for the past 12 months, I feel that we have every cause to feel satisfied that our Club, which means so much to all of us, has had a year so full of activities with the keenest of interest displayed by Club members to enjoy these activities. By this, I mean all forms of entertainment have been well patronized and we have every reason to feel proud of our membership. Our financial position is good, considering some of the difficulties other organizations are facing. We have been able to meet all our obligations to date, have $250 on hand ready to forward to the Women's College Hospital for the furnishing of a room in their new building, and have done a large amount of service work this year, including substantial assistance given to the YWCA and a donation of $50 to the fund for crippled children. Our bridge and garden party were both sources of increased revenues.”

In 1946 we subscribed to the newly organized Women‟s Electors Association, and a Civic Night dinner was enjoyed, with women of the Board of Education invited and our only woman Alderman, Mrs. May Birchard, as guest speaker. (Mrs. Birchard became a club member.)

By 1948 there was real interest in the newly formed Canadian Association of Consumers. An outcropping of the Former Wartime Prices and Trade Board, its chief aims were to help combat inflation by measures to ensure a fair value for every dollar spent, and to protect both the interests of the manufacturers and the consumer. BPW Clubs sponsored the C.A.C. from coast to coast.

In 1950 a Careers Information project was formed under Georgia Brown, Mary MacAuley, Margaret McIrvine and Nazla Dane, to interview and advise young students.

The main project of the Civic Affairs Committee of 1953 was the study of the Mercer Reformatory as well as the Elizabeth Fry Society, an organization which works to try and establish female offenders in a better mode of life upon their release.

In June 1954, the Club received a request from the Extension Department of the University of Toronto to act as sponsor of an Extension Course on “Executive Development for Women”. As this was felt to be an honour for our Club, we accepted.

The Projects Committee, with Jeannette Watson, Chairman, outlined a very comprehensive program for study: the municipal franchise; housing in Toronto – particularly for business and professional women; pensions and financial assistance for children, handicapped, the blind and aged; the possibility of a clubhouse for all women's associations in Toronto; and the possibility of a business women's residence.

A Committee to study Employment of the Older Woman was set up in 1958 by the five women's service clubs in this area. They interviewed unemployed women between 40 and 60 years of age. It is interesting to note that back in 1961 the Toronto Club belonged to the Society for Aging.

MMeanwhile at the other end of the spectrum, it was decided to start a Young Career Women's Contest which is still continuing today. The contestants were judged on their personal appearance, ambitions, aspirations, and ability to communicate.

Also during this time, Careers Preview, formerly called Occupational information Bureau, was in full swing in the Household Economics Building, kindly loaned to us by Dr. Barbara MacLaren. Four times a year on Fridays after school, girls from grades 12 and 13 of Metro secondary schools were invited to attend for tea and cookies. Three experts in various fields would tell the girls about their jobs, what they had to bring to hem and what could be expected in return. Eventually this was discontinued as the schools did a better job of career counselling, but it is felt in many quarters this is a program that could well be reinstated.

At this time the Toronto Club also participated quite frequently in Citizens' Night at the City Hall. When new Canadian citizens received their certificates the Club provided tea and cookies and each woman received a rose.

One project initiated in the '60s was the Big Sister practice. Each new member was assigned to a member of longer standing in the Club who would take the newcomer under her wing, introduce her to members, see that she became familiar with the workings of the Club and generally see that she wasn't left out on a lonely limb.

In those days too, there was a committee who phoned each member who was absent from the previous meeting.

At one of the regional meetings, an amusing skit was performed called “Club Therapy”...The president was late, the minutes were not read, new members were introduced without the introducer knowing their names, the treasurer had no report and didn't know what bills had been paid, etc.

A resolution from the Canadian Federation stating that each BPW Club must write a history of its club led to the eventual writing of the history of the Toronto BPW Club “With A Sense of Purpose” by Leona Kirkwood, giving the club history from 1910 to 1970. Ethel Smith had done a previous history for the years 1911 to 1961. The title “A Sense of Purpose” was the brainchild of Nazla Dane.

At the sixtieth anniversary dinner Ethel Smith and Mary Lean

It was decided at Council (of BPW Clubs of Metro Toronto) to have a Speaking Club in 1976 headed by Henrietta Green with a maximum of twenty members joining for two years to absorb all the lessons. Joyce Lock was named Chairman of Council that year.

sixtieth anniversary dinner

The Toronto BPW Club requests the pleasure of your company at its Sixtieth Anniversary 1970

Requests had been received from Derby, England; Nice, France; South Africa and Guiana suggesting twinning with the Toronto Club. It was decided to form an International Committee in 1977 to correspond with other BPW Clubs and help entertain visiting members.

BPW club members from New Zealand being entertained by a group of Toronto club members

In 1980 the Interaction Committee arranged outings to a dinner theatre, a card party, cross country skiing with lunch afterwards, and an evening at the “Christmas Star” programme at the Planetarium.

And so we go on into the eighties, meeting the aims and objectives of improving the status and promoting the interests of business and professional women, fostering the spirit of friendship among the membership and supporting the Provincial, National and International organizations. The spirit lives.

The Eighties – The time of the seminar:
“Coping in the eighties”
“Quality of life in the eighties”
“Women challenging the eighties”
“Where are we going in the eighties”

The Eighties – The time for networking:
On October 25th 1980 Karen Fraser spoke on “Networking” at the District No. 4 meeting. She was compiling a “Women‟s Directory” and wanted the Toronto clubs to be listed. In 1982 we published our first club networking directory and in 1983 the other BPW Clubs in the area joined us in our second publication.

The Eighties – The time for television as the medium for the message:
In August 1980 Pauline Green was co-host on TV's “Street Talk” asking the question, “Do women who complain of job discrimination run the risk of losing their jobs?” In 1982 President Sheila Haslam appeared on a thirty minute interview programme to talk about the club.

The spirit lives on...

The spirit lives on...