History & Tradition
Dear Vancouver Club community,
The current global crisis is a test entirely new to our generation. And yet, when we look to the history of our club and our city, we see that such crises have been both endured and overcome. When we know our past, we know that we are not alone. Together we have overcome, and together we will overcome this crisis. Our clubhouse embodies this living history, a story of which we are both custodians and creators. This is where we add our chapter.
This week, your Board’s executive met online with the Past Presidents. As living witnesses to the Club’s history and of our ability to face and resolve challenges, their knowledge and guidance are invaluable. With all their strength and depth, they are with us through this test.
By ‘this test’, I mean the latest in a long series. For instance, the Spanish Flu of 1918/1919 extended the suffering of the trenches, in which both members and staff lost their lives. Yes, a decade of hard-won recovery followed, but then the Great Depression fell heavily upon our city, upon our club, and upon our members. Then, as now, we reached into our past and took what was best to aid those who struggled, to find a way for the Club to survive, and to find ourselves better on the other side. Thumbing through that chapter of our history, we read:
- “There was a group of men in The Vancouver Club who were concerned about the impact of unemployment . . . They addressed an open letter to the members of parliament and the business leaders of Canada through a press release.” The letter urged the government to “‘mobilize immediately to prosecute a war against hunger and heart-rending despair, . . . against unemployment of the deserving.’ Canadians must realise that the country was in an economic depression which despite ‘the optimism of economists and capitalists, will last at least six months more’”. While the Club contributed to the unemployment in the city, more details outline food aid the Club provided by way of donations to several veterans organizations throughout Vancouver.
- The chapter goes on to note that the “unremitting financial difficulties being experienced by everyone in Vancouver as the depression dragged on had its impact on The Vancouver Club”, yet, while the Club faced a drop in membership and a “serious operating loss”, “the various measures taken by the club during the decade resulted in its continued existence.”
Looking back at our overcoming of challenges is important as we look to what we will build into the future. Our club is more than a mere heritage building: it has seen hardship and triumph. Our club is not a service we subscribe to, it is a society, a community which we must foster. We grow our businesses here, host our weddings here, celebrate with family here, life long friendships and relationships are founded here.
We are as much a part of the Club as the Club is a part of us.
The Vancouver Club membership has stood together since 1889, building upon 131 years of history and tradition. The doors may be closed for now, but by paying our dues and working together from the strength of our great story, we will open them once more.
We are our best together. We are The Vancouver Club.
Stephanie Burns Staiano
The Vancouver Club President