ON OCTOBER 20, 1810, seven men gathered for a meeting at the Freemasons’ Tavern on Great Queen Street in London, England. Thomas Forsyth, Simon McGillivray, Isaac Todd, John Henry, Alexander Gillespie, William Henderson and George Ratcliffe were fur traders, the entrepreneurs and adventurers of their day. Each was connected with the North West Company, one of two major fur-trading companies operating in British North America at the time (the other was the Hudson’s Bay Company).
The men and several of their colleagues met occasionally in London during winter, the selling season for fur pelts, before returning to Canada in the spring. They wanted, however, to meet on a more regular basis. And so they found themselves at the tavern, laying down the first bylaws of an organization that still exists today. Its growth has mirrored the growth, influence and standing of the former colony where the founding members plied their trade more than 200 years ago. It’s called the Canada Club.
Prince Philip attended a club event in 1951 with the then Princess Elizabeth. (Photo Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada)