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The Canadian Business Women's Club

Objectives

  1. To foster the spirit of patriotism in the fullest sense.
  2. To promote the common interest of all women actively engaged in lines of work directly connecting them with the business life of the community.
  3. To study the progress of business women and to follow up and evolve broad lines in their work.
  4. To link their interests with those of the general community in order to bring about a fuller co-operation.
  5. To encourage leadership amongst business women.
  6. To establish and maintain club quarters, so that these ends may be more readily attained, and to create a full and stimulating spirit of sociability and co-operation amongst the members.

Meetings
The regular meetings are held the first Tuesday of each month.

Fees
Two dollars initiation fee and five dollars a year membership fee.

Club Rooms
Address of our Club rooms for the use of members will be announced shortly.

President — Miss Winnifred Wiseman
Telephone Hillcrest 437

Secretary — Miss Grace Johnson
Telephone Main 788

(From a notice sent to members in 1918)

From the girls in the backroom on Yonge Street to the women on Front Street:
A thumbnail sketch of the Club’s meeting places over the years.

1914: Queen Mary Tea Rooms, Backroom, 99 Yonge Street
In June 1914, when Mrs. Barker was elected president, she urged the need for more members and the advisability of getting a club room downtown. At the July executive meetings that same year, it was moved that the Club engage the back room on the floor occupied by the Queen Mary Tea Rooms from August 15 to May 31 at a rental of $7.50 from August 15 to September 1, $15 for September, and $20 a month for the remainder of the period. This would include heat and light, use of the lavatory, telephone, and of the room from 3 pm to 9 pm daily.

1918: 86 Yonge Street
The Club signed the lease for 4,000 square feet at 86 Yonge Street at a rental of $2,500 to $3,000 annually.

Smooth running of the Club, in particular of the dining room, was a continual concern in the early ’20s. Although the lunchroom was a resounding success at the beginning, its popularity gradually declined and it began showing a loss by the end of the decade. The women hired to manage the facilities were constantly leaving because of “home duties” or being fired because of incompetence or inebriation. It wasn‟t until Mrs. Bullock and her remarkable cook Wong appeared that the situation began to stabilize. Heat and hot water were troublesome as well. One year the janitor had to be slipped an extra $5 to “keep us warm during the winter months” since the Club was often over-charged for hot water. In 1929, although membership had reached a total of 401, there was still a lunchroom deficit for which members had to be assessed.

The outbreak of fire posed a continuing and serious threat to Club premises in the decade of the ’20s. No fewer than four fires, originating mainly in the restaurant below, severely damaged the club rooms and disrupted daily club life. Members spent considerable time and effort, not to mention expense, deciding how to repair and redecorate after the disasters.

The minutes of the ’20s were peppered with complaints about the conduct of Club members. Some members were admonished for bringing guests too often, others were reprimanded for smoking at the dinner table, talking too loudly, and using the Club telephone for making long-distance calls. (Local calls were restricted to two minutes.) The president deplored the continual disappearance from the lunchroom of magazines and books purchased by the Club.

1931: The Nordheimer Building, 67 Yonge Street
On April 15, 1931, the Club received a disheartening letter from the landlord informing the members that the building housing club quarters was to be closed on the first of May. Forced to vacate club premises located at 86 Yonge Street, the Toronto BPW Club moved their headquarters to 67 Yonge Street. For $3,000 a year, they signed a 10-year lease on 3,500 square feet in the Nordheimer Building. The move on July 2, 1931, was not made in silence however. The local newspapers agreed to allot two pages of publicity to announce the new opening.

Running club quarters was a major responsibility. Meal planning, facilities management, purchasing, and financial management required important skills. The House convenor‟s report on April 2, 1935, illustrates:

“As you have heard, the result in our lunchroom for January was very disappointing but there were many things which contributed to this. For instance, the old stoves were a very great handicap, vegetables were very poor for that month, cream was dearer, and Mrs. Macpherson had to work a good many things out. I might say that our kitchen equipment lacked many things, and besides the stove we have since purchased linen, tablecloths, table runners, cups and saucers, baking dishes, etc. February showed a profit of $51.25 and March a profit of $143.76 which is very gratifying and if this, or part of the profit, can be maintained, it will help to put us on a proper basis as far as the Dining Room is concerned.”

How they did go on about the dining room! From what one can gather, it never did make a profit. On the contrary, it consistently showed a loss. One good chance to make it profitable in 1941 was turned down because “we cannot turn our dining room into a cafeteria”.

On March 19, 1942, it was decided to close the rooms due to lack of money. April 23, 1942, members were successful in having rent reduced to $75 per month.

1946: NFA (No fixed address)
In 1946 the greatest crisis in our Club history occurred. On little more than five weeks notice we were forced to vacate our lovely club rooms. An auction sale was hurriedly called the day before New Year‟s, and most of the furniture and equipment was sold for next to nothing. For some time thereafter, the Club met in member‟s homes and in various community centres. By October 9, 1947, the Club obtained use of the Writers‟ Club on Yonge St. for Wednesday nights at $5 per night.

1951: 490 Jarvis Street
In 1951 a major project was accomplished in the purchasing and renovating of a new Club home at 490 Jarvis St. for the sum of $46,000. The members of the Toronto BPW Club came to be known as the “Ladies of Jarvis Street”.

After much deliberation, the clubhouse (since demolished) was sold in 1954 for $60,000 – the nucleus of the present Investment Fund.

1954: 100 Front Street West
When we began holding meetings at the Royal York in 1954, who would have thought it would become our most long-lasting home?

The Toronto BPW Club has the longest association with the Royal York of any organization in Toronto.

Over the years, we‟ve evolved from the girls of the backroom, to the ladies of Jarvis Street, to the women of Front Street. Times have changed but our commitment to time-honoured goals and objectives remains constant.

Head table at September 1956 dinner meeting