History of the Canadian Club and the Ottawa Women's Canadian Club

est 1910

Welcome to a short history of the Ottawa Women’s Canadian Club, a club that today is open for membership to all adult Canadians from every walk of life and from every part of the world.


The Canadian Club movement had started in Hamilton, Ontario in 1892. Founded by Charles McCullough, the Club’s purpose was to ‘encourage the study of Canadian history, literature and resources, the recognition of native worth and talent, and the fostering of a patriotic Canadian sentiment.’ Fourteen clubs across Canada were formed in the first thirteen years, and while at first they were mostly literary societies, members gradually accepted the addition of guest speakers.


The first Canadian Clubs were, however, restricted to a men only membership with the result that within a few years of the first inauguration, Women’s Canadian Clubs began to be organized across Canada. The Ottawa Women’s Canadian Club was founded in 1910, has been meeting at the Chateau Laurier since the hotel opened in 1912 and has a proud and active history that continues to today.


At the outbreak of war with Germany in 1914, the Board of the OWCC unanimously passed a resolution offering assistance to the government of Prime Minister Robert L. Borden and for the duration of hostilities, with membership growing to 1160 by 1915, club activities were divided into two main areas: while the majority of volunteers were involved with War Relief, others undertook the work of organizing luncheons and speakers, garden parties, bridge afternoons and evenings, tea parties and concerts. Sir George Perley offered the club the use of a house at 270 Cooper Street in which to carry out their wartime activities.


Following the end of the war, the Ottawa Women’s Canadian Club donated $4,000 to Queen’s University in Kingston for a scholarship that would aid a returning serviceman or woman or a family member to attend university. The current scholarships funded by the club at Queens, Carleton and Ottawa Universities are described in full in a separate section of this web site.


During the 1920s and 1930s the club returned to a program of luncheons and teas, all with interesting speakers, but the gathering storm of another confrontation with Germany was foretold by several of the speakers during the 1930s so that by the time war broke out in 1939, club members were prepared. Once again committees were formed, but the most successful venture was the Tea Room in the Capitol Theatre that operated for the duration of the war. Funds from the tea room were donated to many wartime charities but possibly the most notable project was the donation of a mobile canteen which bore the nameplate of the Ottawa Women’s Canadian Club and was operated by the Y.M.C.A. in London, England and whenever possible was staffed by members of the Canadian Women’s Club in London.


Since World War 2 the club has once again become a popular luncheon and speaker venue. Tours were started in 1980 with profits from those outings being divided among the clubs scholarships. Currently several popular day tours are being offered each year and we hope that they will continue attracting friends and family of our members.


With a younger and extremely dynamic Board of Directors at the helm of the Ottawa Women’s Canadian Club at the present time, we look forward to exciting times ahead in the 21st Century.