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Empire Club of Canada

The Empire Club of Canada logo

The Empire Club of Canada is a Canadian speakers' forum. Established in 1903, the Empire Club has provided a forum for many thousands of different speakers.[1]

Through a variety of presentation formats, the Empire Club invites local, national and international leaders and other change-agents to address the topical, relevant issues of the day. The club is based in Toronto, Ontario, with luncheon-style meetings held at several different downtown hotel and meeting spaces. It pivoted to virtual meetings as a result of health and safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.


The Empire Club of Canada was established in 1903 as a result of a political discussion which created considerable unrest in Canada.[1] Growing dissent against the British was influencing Toronto's political and social landscape. In an attempt to refrain from a severing of ties with the British Empire, a group of men under the leadership of Brig.-Gen. James Mason discussed the creation of an organization that would promote public discourse and discussion about key issues of the day, both at home and abroad.

With this mandate in mind, the group gathered to draft the constitution for a new club to be named The Empire Club of Canada. Canada's "Imperial bond" with Britain was the cornerstone of the Empire Club of Canada, as its founders believed it would be beneficial to Canada to maintain strong political and economic ties with the Empire. This organization, with a plan of weekly luncheons, which would be addressed by prominent individuals who spoke with authority on the issues of the day, would also have the distinctive basis of the British connection in its work and policy. Membership was restricted to British subjects—there was no legal Canadian citizenship at the time—who would pay dues of one dollar a year, with a maximum membership of 500. Within a month, membership exceeded 300. A year or two later, the club had a waiting list of those wishing to join.

The first luncheon speaker on December 3, 1903, was a clergyman and professor, William Clark, who said: "I can quite understand that to many persons, the formation of a club of this kind will seem a very little thing, ... I have not the least doubt that this Club will become of great influence and power in this Dominion". Clark's address became the first of many, with the Empire Club's podium hosting countless great leaders of politics, business, social issues and arts & culture.

Since its inaugural meeting in December 1903, the Empire Club of Canada has provided a forum to discuss ongoing issues of local, national and international importance. More than 3,500 addresses have been delivered from the Empire Club podium, and every address is kept on record in the Empire Club of Canada's annual Red Book.

Notable speakers

Some highly notable speakers who have addressed the Empire Club podium have included:

The Empire Club Foundation

The Empire Club Foundation was incorporated in January 1969 and serves as a vehicle for the publication and wide-distribution of the Club's speeches. Copies are sent to a large distribution of schools, libraries, consulates and embassies.

Registered as a charity, its objectives are to promote the interest in current and public affairs, and to establish a historical database of all Empire Club speeches. All of the Empire Club speeches since 1903 are available via the Empire Club's website. In 2021, Dr. Gordon McIvor, Past President of the Empire Club of Canada, was appointed as the Chair of the Empire Club Foundation (

List of club presidents

The following people have served as president of the Empire Club:[2]

Year President Year President
1903–1904 The Rt. Hon. Lord Strathcona 1904–1905 The Rt. Rev. William Clark
1905–1906 Mr. William Briggs 1906-1907 Mr. J. P. Murray
1907–1908 Mr. J.F.M. Stewart 1908–1909 Mr. D.J. Coggin
1909–1910 Mr. Elias Clouse
1910–1911 J. Castell Hopkins 1911–1912 F.B. Fetherstonhaugh
1912–1913 The Rt. Rev. James F. Sweeny 1913–1914 The Hon. Mr. Justice James Craig
1914–1915 Lt. Col. R.J. Stuart 1915–1916 Albert Ham
1916–1917 James Black Perry 1917–1918 Norman Sommerville
1918–1919 F.J. Coombs 1919–1920 R.A. Stapells
1920–1921 Arthur Hewitt 1921–1922 Brig. Gen. C.H. Mitchell
1922–1923 Sir William Hearst 1923–1924 Elias H. Wilkinson
1924–1925 William Brooks 1925–1926 Rev. N.R. Burns
1926–1927 Col. A.E. Kirkpatrick 1927–1928 Col. Alexander Fraser
1928–1929 Robert H. Fennell 1929–1930 Hugh S. Eayrs
1930–1931 John D.M. Spence 1931–1932 H.G. Stapells
1932–1933 Col. The Hon. George A. Drew
1933–1934 Major James Baxter 1934–1935 The Hon. Mr. Justice Dana H. Porter
1935–1936 J.H. Brace 1936–1937 Major G.B. Balfour
1937–1938 Major R.M. Harcourt 1938–1939 J.P. Pratt
1939–1940 F.A. Gaby 1940–1941 The Hon. G. Howard Ferguson
1941–1942 C.R. Sanderson 1942–1943 John C.M. MacBeth
1943–1944 W. Eason Humphreys 1944–1945 Charles R. Conquergood
1945–1946 Eric F. Thompson 1946–1947 Major F.L. Clouse
1947–1948 Tracey E. Lloyd 1948–1949 T.H. Howse
1949–1950 H.C. Colebrook 1950–1951 Sydney Hermant
1951–1952 D.H. Gibson 1952–1953 John W.F. Griffin
1953–1954 Arthur E.M. Inwood 1954–1955 James H. Joyce
1955–1956 C.C. Goldring 1956–1957 Donald H. Jupp
1957–1958 LCol. W.H. Montague 1958–1959 MGen. B.J. Legge
1959–1960 Harold R. Lawson 1960–1961 Hon. Alexander Stark
1961–1962 Dr. Z.S. Phimister 1962–1963 Dr. J. Palmer Kent
1963–1964 Major Arthur J. Langley 1964–1965 Col. Robert H. Hilborn
1965–1966 Col. E.A. Royce 1966–1967 R. Bredin Stapells
1967–1968 B. Graham M. Gore 1968–1969 Edward B. Jolliffe
1969–1970 H. Ian Macdonald 1970–1971 H.V. Cranfield
1971–1972 The Hon. Henry N.R. Jackman 1972–1973 Maj. The Hon. Mr. Justice Joseph H. Potts
1973–1974 Robert L. Armstrong 1974–1975 Sir Arthur Chetwynd
1975–1976 H. Allan Leal 1976–1977 William M. Karn
1977–1978 Peter Hermant 1978–1979 MGen. Reginald W. Lewis
1979–1980 John A. MacNaughton 1980–1981 Reginald Stackhouse
1981–1982 BGen. S.F. Andrunyk 1982–1983 Henry J. Stalder
1983–1984 Douglas L. Derry 1984–1985 Catherine R. Charlton
1985–1986 Harry T. Seymour 1986–1987 Nona Macdonald
1987–1988 Ronald Goodall 1988–1989 A.A. (Tony) van Straubenzee
1989–1990 Sarah A. Band 1990–1991 Maj. The Rev. Canon Harold F. Roberts
1992–1993 Robert L. Brooks 1993–1994 Col. Frederic L.R. Jackman
1994–1995 John A. Campion 1995–1996 David A. Edmison
1996–1997 Julie K. Hannaford 1997–1998 Gareth S. Seltzer
1998–1999 George L. Cooke 1999–2000 Robert J. Dechert
2000–2001 Catherine Steele 2001–2002 Bill Laidlaw
2002–2003 Ann Curran 2003–2004 John Koopman
2004–2005 Bart J. Mindszenthy 2005–2006 William G. Whittaker
2006–2007 Capt. The Rev. Dr. John S. Niles MSM 2007–2008 Catherine S. Swift
2008–2009 Jo-Ann McArthur 2009–2010 Alfred Apps
2010–2011 Tim Reid 2011–2012 Verity Sylvester
2012–2013 Robin Sears 2013–2014 Noble Chummar
2014–2015 Andrea Wood 2015–2016 Gordon McIvor
2016–2017 Paul Fogolin 2017–2018 Barbara Jesson
2018–2019 Kent Emerson 2019–2020 Mike Van Soelen
2020–2021 Antoinette Tummillo 2021–2022 Kelly Jackson


  1. ^ a b "About Us". Empire Club of Canada. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  2. ^ "Past Presidents". Empire Club of Canada. Retrieved 2022-05-28.
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Empire Club of Canada
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