Presented October 4, 2016 by Sue Carscallen
The Calgary Women’s Literary Club archives housed at the Glenbow Museum Calgary consist of a series of boxes containing file folders, two bound minute books (1906 to approximately 1929) and from 1930 to 1960’s hole punched minute books held with a ring as well as various receipt books. All records were hand written until well into the 1960’s.
The Calgary Women’s Literary Club was founded by Annie Davidson who held the first meeting in her parlour, February 9th , 1906. The main purpose of the club was the study of Literature. However, over the years the advancement of educational opportunities for women and children were of utmost importance. From the minutes of October 28th, 1907: “Mrs. Davidson called this morning to get the signatures of the officers of the club to a letter reviewing the petition for a Carnegie Library to Andrew Carnegie”. One hundred and ten years later The Calgary Women’s Literary Club still hold their meetings in Calgary’s first library, the beautiful Memorial Park Branch of the Calgary Public Library.
The club was very popular with the early members because there were few cultural opportunities in Calgary. Pioneer members were mostly from Ontario, conservative, community minded and better educated than most women in the general population.
Our club has rolled with the times from World War I when women were not employed outside the home and our members sewed and knitted for the war effort, to World War II when women were fully employed consequently meetings were not so frequent. In 1946 the CWLC pushed city council for a larger grant to the Calgary Public Library as well as female membership on the library board. In 1954 our members were asked by the City of Calgary for input regarding the building of the Jubilee Auditorium for our province’s50th anniversary in 1955.
Past members Georgina Thompson (libraries), Mrs. Fish (charitable work, university) and Nellie McClung (women’s rights) were huge contributors to our city.
Social change has brought about a diverse membership who reflect the cosmopolitan city that Calgary has become. Our club continues to grow and change while remaining true to the original mandate of 1906, which was the study of literature and the support of libraries and women’s rights.