Our Charter Women

At the Heart of the Club

Last year, 2020, marked the 35th anniversary of women joining the Arts & Letters Club as members. The Club decided to produce a book celebrating its “Charter Women”; in the process we were able to explore their contributions to the Club and who they were as interesting and accomplished individuals.

The list by Alan Stein that you see on your way down the steps in the Club’s entrance names 40 Charter Women. Our understanding, naturally, was that 40 women had joined us in the two years from early 1987 through to the early summer of 1987. Through research in the Archives, old LAMPSletters, and consultation with Marianne Fedunkiw, who had covered much of this territory as Club president, we found that not 40, but an astounding 77, had signed up during those first two years!

The question, then, was who counted as Charter Women? We found that they were distinguished by at least a decade of membership and significant contributions to the Club — twelve are still members. Our digging uncovered two more who met the criteria, and the new book profiles 42 Charter Women.

It was great fun getting to know these women as we worked our way through the project — they are indeed an impressive group: important visual artists, stage professionals, writers, and academics, of course. We found two members of the Order of Canada — one of whom is a black belt in karate. We also discovered a flamenco dancer, a pioneer in both historical and natural conservation, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s dentist! They stepped into a “boys’ club”, but a number of them were involved Club stage performances, were in the building on a regular basis, and had gotten to know many Club members.  The first woman to officially join, artist Tyrrell Richardson Morrow, had already had a solo exhibition at the Club.  It’s true, of course, that the male Club members were not uniformly welcoming; but they got over it — some of them very quickly!

The book, At the Heart of the Club: A Celebration of the Charter Women of the Arts & Letters Club of Toronto, will be released in print in the fall of 2021. In the meantime, please enjoy this digital copy.  If you would like your own copy in print, please preorder through the office. The price is $20, including HST.  Postage is extra if you would like to have it mailed.

 The Book Team:
Don McLeod, Christine Ader, Carol Anderson, Penelope Tibbles Cookson, Katie Hermant,
Barbara Luedecke, 
Fiona McKeown, Jane McWhinney, and Doug Purdon 

 

Last year, 2020, marked the 35th anniversary of women joining the Arts & Letters Club as members. The Club decided to produce a book celebrating its “Charter Women”; in the process we were able to explore their contributions to the Club and who they were as interesting and accomplished individuals.

The list by Alan Stein that you see on your way down the steps in the Club’s entrance names 40 Charter Women. Our understanding, naturally, was that 40 women had joined us in the two years from early 1987 through to the early summer of 1987. Through research in the Archives, old LAMPSletters, and consultation with Marianne Fedunkiw, who had covered much of this territory as Club president, we found that not 40, but an astounding 77, had signed up during those first two years!

The question, then, was who counted as Charter Women? We found that they were distinguished by at least a decade of membership and significant contributions to the Club — twelve are still members. Our digging uncovered two more who met the criteria, and the new book profiles 42 Charter Women.

It was great fun getting to know these women as we worked our way through the project — they are indeed an impressive group: important visual artists, stage professionals, writers, and academics, of course. We found two members of the Order of Canada — one of whom is a black belt in karate. We also discovered a flamenco dancer, a pioneer in both historical and natural conservation, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s dentist! They stepped into a “boys’ club”, but a number of them were involved Club stage performances, were in the building on a regular basis, and had gotten to know many Club members.  The first woman to officially join, artist Tyrrell Richardson Morrow, had already had a solo exhibition at the Club.  It’s true, of course, that the male Club members were not uniformly welcoming; but they got over it — some of them very quickly!

The book, At the Heart of the Club: A Celebration of the Charter Women of the Arts & Letters Club of Toronto, will be released in print in the fall of 2021. In the meantime, please enjoy this digital copy.  If you would like your own copy in print, please preorder through the office. The price is $20, including HST.  Postage is extra if you would like to have it mailed.

 The Book Team:
Don McLeod, Christine Ader, Carol Anderson, Penelope Tibbles Cookson, Katie Hermant, Barbara Luedecke, Fiona McKeown, Jane McWhinney, and Doug Purdon