VICTORIA TOASTMASTERS CLUB No. 38

The following is an extract from First Canadian Toastmasters Club 38 eBook “The Club that made Toastmasters truly International”, editor Brian Dodd, DTM, on the occasion of their 80th Anniversary. They are awaiting approval of Toastmasters International to publish the book.

However we are pleased to share this story with District 21’s “Buzz Newsletter” on the occasion of the club’s 81st Anniversary (Oct 24, 2016), when the club shared their usual Anniversary Cake with Members and Guests at their usual Tuesday meeting at Camosun College Interurban Campus, Victoria.  

The Victoria, British Columbia, Canada Toastmasters Club was organized October 4, 1933. Club was initially listed as an associate club.

The District 21 Historian, Brian Dodd, DTM wrote a short history of District 21 for his HPLP in 2007 and was posted on the district web site but was removed from website when they changed servers. Portions of this history quoted as the following.

“Frank Paulding is Victoria Toastmasters Club (First Canadian Toastmasters, Club 38) founder. Frank Paulding, Y.M.C.A. General Secretary of New Westminster, B.C. wrote to Ralph Smedley before July 26, 1930 about organizing a club in British Columbia. He ran public speaking classes, and created a speaking club called ‘The Spokes’ .

He attended a Toastmasters Conference at Whittier College in California on July 26, 1930. Participants in the meeting discussed a name for the Federation of Toastmasters, and Frank Paulding suggested they call it Toastmasters International since he was from Canada. Ralph Smedley liked “Toastmasters International”, since it was similar to Rotary International of which Ralph was also a member.

Frank Paulding was unable to organize ‘The Spokes’ into the first Canadian Toastmaster club. Had he done, they could well have become Club #10 instead of Seattle.

Frank was transferred to Victoria Y.M.C.A. in 1932. He was known for his fund raising abilities, that were sorely needed in Victoria at the time. Here he again ran public speaking classes, and formed another speaking club called ‘Y Speakers’.

The ‘Y Speakers and Victoria Toastmasters used to complete for the ‘Rose Cup’, named after a local jeweler, in a speaking contest between the clubs.”

On April 7, 1934, Club received the Associate charter from Frank Pauling at meeting held at Speedie’s Cafe. Club listed as an Associate Club in directory December 1934.

Victoria Toastmasters Club with its fifteen members officially chartered on October 24, 1935 and became the first international Toastmasters club. Frank Paulding named as Honorary President and James E. Hill as president. James Hill wrote article in June 1936 Toastmasters magazine about diction.

The March 1936 Toastmasters Magazine published International President Raymond Huff’s report about the chartering of the Victoria Toastmasters Club and quoted as the following.

“On January 15, your President, the District Governor of District 2, L. Edward Hed, and Frank Fretwell, a former Seattle No. 1 Toastmaster, landed from a steamer at Victoria at 1:30 in the afternoon. We were greeted by a committee composed of Jim Benell, Frank Paulding, Herbert Butt, and James H. Hill, President of Victoria Toastmasters. They took us to the Dominion Hotel and gave us our choice of entertainment for the afternoon. Mr. Hed, suffering from a cold, chose to stay in bed. Mr. Fretwell had personal business to attend to. But your president accompanied Mr. Butt on a drive along the shores of the Straits of Juan de Fuca on some of the beautiful highways of Vancouver, Island. The drive came to a happy conclusion at five o’clock, with tea at Mr. Butt’s home at Oak Bay, where Mrs. Butt welcomed us.”

“Seven o’clock found us at the Y.M.C.A. Building, where we were joined by Mr. Hed and Mr. Fretwell in meeting the Toastmasters and their guests at dinner.”

“Mr. Paulding had explained to us that it was his suggestion at the Whittier Conference in 1930 that our organization be called “Toastmasters International” because he felt at that time as he does today that the movement was destine to become a power in all English speaking countries, and perhaps in others as well. He also explained that one of the requirements of membership in the Victoria Toastmasters Club is graduation from one of his public speaking classes at the Y.M.C.A. As the picture became more clear, Mr. Hed and I realized that we were but children carrying to adults a message whose fundamentals they understood even better than we did.

“President Hill opened the meeting by introducing the guests of honor. He then proposed a toast to the King of England, and an excellent pianist accompanied us in singing “God Save the King.” After a respective pause, he proposed a toast to the President of the United States, followed by the singing of “America” with equal fervour. Frank Pauling was then presented as the parent of the Toastmasters idea in Canada, and he gracefully introduced the President of Toastmasters International. I outlined the ideals and plans of the Toastmasters movement. , and presented the charter to Mr. Hill, who is known as the silver – tongued orator of Victoria.” President Hill gave a splendid speech of acceptance, following which Mr. J. E. Paulding, brother of Frank, proposed a toast to Toastmasters International. “The presenting of our first foreign charter, if can call Canada foreign, is an important event, and the whole affair made deeper impression on every person in that meeting. It has a much deeper significance than mere acceptance into our federation of another club.” “Mr. Hed responded to the toast, and gave a very complete picture of the activities of Toastmasters, an imposing array when all gathered together. Numerous short speeches of congratulations followed, by members of various speech groups, committeemen and directors of the Y.M.C.A.”

“Following adjournment, Mr. Fraser took us to his home for a pleasant social evening, and we and we were apprised of the plans that had been made for our entertainment the next day, our boat leaving at 4:30 in the afternoon. From the moment of our arrival on Wednesday afternoon and our departure late Thursday, there was no time when we were not provided with at least one automobile and one guide, and if there was anything important about the city and its surroundings which we did not see, it was for lack of time. “I have no words with which to express adequately our sense of the cordial and sincere hospitality shown our party. The King, himself, could not have been more delightfully cared for Mr. Hed and I are ready at a moment’s notice to return to Victoria to present charters to Clubs numbers 2, 3. 4, 5, and so fourth.”

Of interest International President Raymond Huff presented the charter to  the second British Columbia club, Vancouver Toastmasters Club 59 in spring 1936.

Glen Meek, District 2 Historian’s handwritten notes state;

“Victoria Club #38 (British Columbia, Canada) Charter Celebration was on January 15, 1936. First active club outside of U.S. making Toastmasters truly international. In accepting the charter, President Hill closed with these two words. ‘In conclusion’, then he explained he had taken public speaking courses and the instructor was very insistent on their use. Why? Because these two words have done more for drooping heads and spirits of exhausted audiences when should they be used in the course of one’s speech – as soon after your introduction as possible.”

Copyright © 2014-2016 by First Canadian Toastmasters Club No. 38.

All rights reserved.

Compiled and edited by Brian Dodd, DTM,

Club 38 President (2011-12, 2013, 2015, 2016)