It all started in a laundry room. A small apartment building near Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue housed young families plus retired teacher of teachers Miss Grace Morgan. When the young mothers bemoaned the stagnation of their university degrees, Miss Morgan knew the answer – a university women’s club. She conferred with her friend Margaret Grant, president of CFUW, who recognized that the Toronto Club was too expensive and too far away for this young group.
On October 18, 1951, Miss Morgan called an organizational meeting in her apartment. Then on October 31 they held the inaugural meeting of The University Women’s Club of North York, the 70th club and first suburban club in the Canadian Federation of University Women.
Twenty members attended, plus school trustee Jean Newman, who spoke on Women in Public Life. A membership fee of $1.00 was decided. to receive the Charter. The Inaugural Year ended with the first annual dinner in May 1952. The reports for that first year are amazing.
By then attendance was too large for a living room and meetings were held in a series of school gyms. The fee was raised to include CFUW dues of 1.50 per person, delegate expenses, and a bursary fund.
Speakers at our monthly meetings could have provided a liberal education. Some were famous, like Northrop Frye, June Callwood, George Ignatieff, Adrienne Clarkson, Robertson Davies. Others were outstanding club members, like Betsy Carr, Alice Medcof, Margaret McGovern, or family of club members, like Pierre Berton, Robert Fulford, John Plumpton.
In the 1950s North York was the fastest growing municipality in Canada, with expanding concerns where our representation was requested. Among these were Board of Governors of Seneca College, North York Library Committee and Board of Education Status of Women Committee. advocating for women’s rights, indigenous people, justice, the environment and health care.
adapted from an article by our Club Historian-May 26, 2016
Since its humble beginning in 1951, the UWCNY has continued to grow and flourish. It provides an opportunity for women to advocate for change while supporting the weak and vulnerable in our society. It also gives members many opportunities to expand upon their own knowledge and interests while socializing with others of like mind.
For a list of the Club’s previous Presidents click here.