Packaging Room at the Women’s Canadian Club, 1918.
Over a Century of History
For more than a century, the Ottawa Women’s Canadian Club has been celebrating Canadian heritage, attracting impressive speakers, and contributing to society through war efforts and a student scholarship program. We are proud to share the highlights of our incredible history with you.
The OWCC has attracted speakers who are leaders in their field in Canada and internationally. Some include: Governors General and/or their spouses, provincial premiers, heads of foreign states, Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, Members of Parliament and Senators, ambassadors, astronauts, olympians, military experts, university professors, fashion designers, doctors/nurses, scientists, financial advisors, musicians, choral groups, radio and television personalities, Indigenous historians, authors, chefs, hostages, florists, photographers and explorers.
Moments in Time
The First Event At The Château Laurier
Four months after the official opening of the Château Laurier Hotel, the OWCC held its first event on October 19, 1912, and the hotel has been home to the OWCC ever since. A bronze plaque marking our 100-year relationship with the hotel is proudly featured in the hotel’s main corridor.
Speaker - Professor Carrie Derick
Carrie Derick, of McGill University, was the first female full professor at any Canadian university.
She was made Professor of Comparative Morphology and Genetics in 1912. Her active leadership in this field, as well as in the Local and National Councils of Women, with particular attention to social reform, continued until her death in 1941.
The War Years
Patriotic committees were formed to support war efforts. Activities included: receiving, sorting and baling of food; collecting clothing and hospital supplies; fundraising; sewing garments; ‘adopting’ of children and some widowed mothers; sending Christmas parcels and stockings along with magazine and book collections for soldiers; purchase of ambulances; letter writing.
In appreciation of our special relief efforts, the King of Belgium decorated three members of the Club for work in assisting his country.
Support For Higher Education
Today, three universities manage close to $1M dollars in scholarships and bursaries on behalf of the Club.
Post War Era
By this time, membership numbers were soaring (approx. 2,000) and attendance at luncheons averaged 550 women. Wives of the heads of diplomatic missions in Ottawa were honorary members and many showed great interest in the Club luncheons and other events. There were many special events over the years that drew up to 1,000 attendees for a meeting, a luncheon, or a dinner. Some of these events were hosted jointly by the Men’s and Women’s Canadian Clubs.
50th Anniversary of the
Ottawa Women’s Canadian Club
Their Excellencies the Governor General, Georges Vanier, and Madame Vanier were present. His Excellency brought greetings and Madame Vanier cut the birthday cake. The President, Mrs. Booth, reviewed the history of the Club and welcomed several ladies whose membership had been continuous from 1918 to 1960. The head table included past presidents, wives of diplomatic missions and wives of cabinet ministers.
A Surprise Address
The Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Pierre Elliott Trudeau, requested an urgent meeting to address the members of both the Canadian Club of Ottawa and the Ottawa Women's Canadian Club. The event was organized within a week and 750 attendees gathered to listen to Mr. Trudeau talk about the Canadian economy; hoping to ease anxiety with regard to the direction on the economy taken by the Liberal Government.
Diversification Of Activities
In the 1980s, the men’s only Canadian Clubs opened membership to women, however, the women of our Club chose to remain with the OWCC. In fact, a new activity for the Club began to flourish – tours! In 1989/90 alone, ten escorted tours were organized for Club members and their guests.
The Château Laurier Ballroom Became A Court Of Canadian Citizenship
Yvonne Kerr, Citizenship Judge, presented 51 members of the OWCC with certificates of Canadian citizenship. The accession to Canadian citizenship was a source of great pride for our devoted members. Judge Kerr highlighted the reasons to become a Canadian Citizen.
Speaker - Dr. Robert Thirsk
- a Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering
from Calgary University
- a Master's in Mechanical Engineering and a Master's of Business Administration from M.I.T.
- Doctor of Medicine from McGill University.
A Global Pandemic
On March 11th 2020, the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic. This resulted in the temporary cessation of luncheons. The pause in regular Club activities enabled the Board of Directors, working behind the scenes, to reimagine how to emerge on the other side of the pandemic more viable and innovative.
The Future - Today & Beyond
An in-depth account of the OWCC's History
Rowena Cooper, the Club's archivist
Rowena Cooper moved to the Ottawa area in 2005 and was introduced to the Ottawa Women’s Canadian Club by her sister-in-law and OWCC Past President, Ruth Cooper. Prior to moving to Eastern Ontario Rowena worked as a professional Archivist and historical researcher, she also completed a two year contract with the City of Brampton as the Sesquicentennial Historian, producing an interactive CD-rom that is used in all elementary schools in Brampton. An active volunteer in the heritage field in Ontario she is a former president of The Ontario Historical Society which serves as the ‘umbrella’ for all historical societies in the Province of Ontario. She served as President of the Ottawa Women’s Canadian Club from 2012-2014.
Discover the complete history of the Ottawa Women’s Canadian Club,
the Club’s book is now for sale.