80 YEARS OF PROGRESS A Brief History of the Canadian Progress Club Maurice Guenear and James Brennan founded the Canadian Progress Club in 1922. Its first club was the Canadian Progress Club Toronto Downtown. They still exist today. Their first meeting was held on November 16, of the same year. One hundred businessmen and professional people joined together to form the club. In this group of men was former mayor, Nathan Phillips, who was the Honorary President of the Toronto Downtown club until his death on January 7, 1976. As the mother club of Progress, the Toronto Downtown Club had a rather unique and humble beginning. A “barker” at the Canadian National Exhibition, Maurice Guenear, had come to Canada fortified with a copy of data and forms used by a service club in the United States. Following the close of the exhibition, Guenear joined with James Brennan in opening an office in the Star Building at Bay and Adelaide Streets in Toronto, for the professed purpose of organizing service clubs throughout Canada. They operated under the name of “Canadian Progress Club, Extension Department. The next step taken by Guenear and Brennan was to enlist the services of field representatives, who were to be located in Toronto, London, Hamilton, Ottawa, and other centres. Their task was to seek out men who possessed the sum of twenty-five dollars, and to whom their sales talk about the high ideals and objectives would appeal sufficiently to cause them to part with their money. The representatives retained $12.00 and $13.00 went to the Extension Department. On November 23, 1922, officers and directors were elected for the Toronto Downtown Club and weekly meetings were held thereafter. On December 14, the first service effort was the collection at the meeting of $79.72 for the “Star Santa Claus Fund”. The National office of the Canadian Progress Club was formed in 1923 with only affiliate club, Toronto Downtown. In 1928 Toronto West was formed and in 1931 the Montreal Club was chartered. The Progress Club, by 1949, had ten clubs. There was a club in London (1937), Collingwood (1938), Creemore (1940), St. Laurent (1946), and Quebec (1949). The Toronto Downtown Club formed a women’s auxiliary in 1933, after which various clubs formed a number of women’s auxiliaries. The Canadian Progress Club was centrally based until the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, when the western and eastern divisions were in the embryo stages of development. There was not one club outside of Quebec and Ontario until 1965, when Halifax and Edmonton Downtown were established. In 1977, the first all-women’s club was chartered under the name of the Calgary Eves. Today there are 8 clubs in Eastern Region, 8 clubs in the Central Region, 5 clubs in Great Plains Region and 13 clubs in Western Region. National Officers recognized a long standing need for machinery within the Canadian Progress Club, at the National level, to allow formation of a registered charitable body, legally enabled to issue deductible receipts for donations received. In 1967 plans were formulated and on January 25, 1968, under the auspices of two Past National Presidents, James McArthur and Arthur Rose, the Canadian Progress Charitable Foundation was chartered. It received a Letters Patent from the federal government as a non-profit, no share cap organization with the Department of Corporate and Consumer Affairs in Ottawa. The Foundation has a permanent charitable number, which when provided on its receipts, permits donations to be deductible for Income Tax purposes. The Canadian Progress Club is an all Canadian Service Club having no international affiliations. Membership and its privileges are open equally to men and women. The organization is represented from sea to sea, as there are clubs in Newfoundland and British Columbia. A National body was created as an organizational tool. The officers of the National Board are chosen from members of the affiliated clubs. National and Regional Officers are elected annually. “It’s Great to be Canadian / Soyons Fiers D’Etre Canadien” is the motto of the Canadian Progress Club. Progress members seek the advancement of the communities in which the individual clubs are located. Progress is entirely Canadian in concept and development. Each local club conducts its own affairs and its own charitable projects.
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