AGM 2018 Results

Please take notice that the 139th Annual General Meeting of The Union Club of British Columbia was held in the Centennial Ballroom of the Union Club, on June 7, 2018, at 4:30pm.

With a special “Thank you” to those who let their names stand for election, the results of the General Committee election are as follows:



LCdr Angus Fedoruk

Rick Sousa

Jon Watson


President Lawrence Graham, Vice-President Grace Van den Brink and the Club’s General Committee look forward to welcoming Mr. Fedoruk, Mr. Sousa and Mr. Watson to the General Committee.

The Passing of Peggy (Mulliner) Freethy

The Club was sadly advised this week of the passing of Mrs. Peggy Freethy.  Mrs. Freethy was the Club’s oldest member at 99 years, 10 months.  She will be missed…

Today, the Club received the following interview of Mrs. Freethy, conducted in 2012 by a fellow alumni of Victoria High School (Mrs. Freethy was a member of the class of 1935).


Interviewed by Kamille Tobin-Shields, VHS Class of 2012

“As a youth, fascinated with History, I find it it extremely important to foster intergenerational relationships. The passing on of one’s wisdom and knowledge through storytelling (and simply spending time with our elders) makes for a very rich and fulfilling experience, not to mention the importance of continuing someone’s legacy.  Peggy Freethy is one of these wonderful elders who was gracious enough to share some of her early Victoria childhood memories with me!

Peggy grew up in the James Bay neighborhood of Victoria, near the end of Government Street.

She attended Alice Carr’s Kindergarten, Girls Central School and then graduated from Victoria High School in 1935.

At age five, Peggy Freethy met Emily Carr who was in her 40’s at the time. She said that Emily’s sister, Alice Carr, would often worry about Emily’s eating habits and send Peggy and one of her classmates over to Emily’s house with puddings and food for her.

Some days, Emily would ask the children to stay and she would put them to work, sweeping her small, ten-by-twelve studio. Peggy remembers, at the young age of five, sweeping the dusty studio floors as Emily Carr’s notorious monkey, sat perched up in the little window.

She also remembers Ms.Carr giving her little prints and sketches that she didn’t like, instructing the children to take them out to be burned in the fire that was always ablaze in the backyard. One day, after Peggy had finished sweeping the studio, Ms. Carr offered to take Peggy and her classmate up to the attic, in reward for doing a good job in the studio. Emily brought the two kids up the ladder and into the attic.  They were, as Peggy recalls, the first children to ever see the painted totem poles that flooded the attic’s empty space.

Peggy went on to share another story about Emily Carr, this one more personal. Emily’s sister, Elizabeth Carr, had married Mr.Williams and together they had four children, two boys and two girls. The girls were fine, healthy girls but the two boys had diabetes and epilepsy. One of the boys sat next to Peggy in Alice Carr’s kindergarten, so Peggy had become close friends with him.

One day, when Peggy was about twelve years old, one of the brothers came to visit her at home. As he they met on the sidewalk, he began to have an epileptic fit. Peggy was taught to stick a small piece of wood between the boy’s teeth, so he wouldn’t bite his tongue. Peggy then told him to stay and she ran to get Alice from the schoolhouse. On her way there, Peggy ran into Emily out walking her little dogs in a baby carriage. She told her to come at once, because the boy was having a fit. Emily whirled around, dumped her dogs in her studio and ran to the boy’s aid. She picked up the boy in her arms, a young man of age seventeen now, and cradled him for a few minutes. Peggy describes in beautiful detail, the look of compassion on Emily Carr’s face as she held this boy in her arms. “The look of compassion on her face, I have never forgotten.”

Peggy then attended Girls Central School, its building sat where Central Middle school now is. From there, Peggy moved on to attend, and graduate from, Victoria High School.

VHS Class of ’35 – Peggy in the front row, 2nd from right

Peggy looks at me, knowing that I currently attend Vic High, and asks doubtfully if there are any remainders of the All Girls division. I reply with, ” the only things that remain are the signs above the side entrances that read: “Boys Entrance” and “Girls Entrance”.

She goes on to describe to me how she can still remember her principal (sitting to her right in the photo above, beloved teacher and long-serving VHS principal, Harry Smith.  Please see the 1940’s page and the interview with Winsome [Smith] Oliver, for more stories about him.  – ed.), watching carefully from his office door every morning, as all of the students marched past him.

“Our behavior was controlled, I remember it well.”

Peggy participated in the Portia Debate team while at Vic High and was described as the “social lion of her division”. Groups, she said, were considered the thing to be a part of, if you wanted to be known at school.

“High school was a wonderful experience for me”, Peggy says with a graceful smile.

She then recalls a few more of the many memories she cherishes from her youth.

On weekends, Peggy and her friends would go to the Crystals Gardens, they would swim in the pool or go dancing at night. Peggy fondly remembers that the youth of her time always had somewhere to go, somewhere to meet new people and spend the weekend.

Peggy also belonged to The Craigdarroch Society, a group of young women who all, except for Peggy and her sister, were residents of what we call today, the prestigious Rockland area. The mothers of these young ladies would host afternoon teas, dinners and other events. The young women would go from home to home for different social occasions.

When she was younger, Peggy recalls going out to Butchart Gardens with her family. Admission was free, and they would join countless other families on the lawn to have picnics. She remembers the image of Mrs. Butchart coming around, providing the families with hot water and making sure they had everything that they needed. The sense of community was strong, and compassion was truly evident.

Sadly, our conversation had to come to an end here. I sat fully engaged as Peggy finished describing some of the fondest memories of her youth in Victoria in the 1930’s.

I was fortunate, however, to have spent just over an hour with Peggy.  Visualizing her stories of walking along wooden sidewalks, or encountering Emily Carr, or even her nights spent dancing at the Crystal Gardens, I would have loved to have listened to her stories about the young city of Victoria forever. My short time spent with Peggy taught me that memories are priceless; to cherish everything around you and everybody you meet, as they may just turn out to be a famous painter; but also, that memories will not live on unless they are shared.  The gift of storytelling and sharing must never be lost to assure this preservation. I feel fortunate to have been in Peggy Freethy’s company and even more fortunate to have been invited to share a piece of her personal history.

Past President – In Memoriam…


David McEwen Eberts was born in Chatham, Ontario, in 1850 and came to Victoria in 1878. He had studied at Osgoode Hall in Toronto and when he first came to Victoria he joined A. Rocke Robertson in law practice. He married in 1884 to Miss Mabel Charles, the daughter of a prominent Victorian.

“Hopedene”, where Mr. and Mrs. Eberts took up residence, was built by R.B. McMicking, the great grandfather of our 44th President of the same name.
In 1890, D.M. Eberts was first elected to the Legislature, for Victoria city.

In 1895, The Daily Colonist said this of Mr. Eberts: “He is free and independent in manner and though a hard fighter in any cause he espouses, he never personally antagonizes his opponents and is socially and politically one of the best-liked members in the Assembly.”

For eight years Eberts was Speaker of the Legislature, under Premier Richard McBride, and Premier W.J. Bowser. In 1917 he was appointed to the bench and he remained a Supreme Court Justice until his death, at age 74, on May 21, 1924.

Past President – In Memoriam…


Arthur Charlton Burdick was born in London, Ontario, January 30, 1874, son of Issac Newton and Helen Burdick. He was educated in London and in Ingersoll.

He came to British Columbia in 1897 at the age of 23 and went on to marry Vina Dixie in 1901. In 1907 he established Green & Burdick Bros., Real Estate and Financial Brokers, at the corner of Langley and Broughton Streets, in Victoria.

His partner was Senator Robert Francis Green, The Union Club of British Columbia’s 18th President.

Arthur Charles Burdick was a leader of the community and enjoyed a successful business career.

He died on May 20th, 1951, at the age of 77.

Canadians to Gather in Churches, Theatres and Halls for Royal Wedding Viewing Parties

David Spence (UC Member) is the president of the Royal Commonwealth Society and organizer of a wedding reception being held on the same day as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. His wife Donna Otto (UC Member) will be one of many Canadians who will wake up early to catch the royal wedding. “I’m going to enjoy every bit of it,” she says. (CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

BRENTWOOD BAY, B.C.—Donna Otto hasn’t decided on wearing a fascinator or a new hat on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding day, but she knows where she’ll be at 4 a.m. on Saturday when the royal couple say their “I dos.”

Otto, like most Canadians, is thousands of kilometres and many time zones away from the ceremony at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, but she says she’ll be up early in Victoria to toast the newlyweds.

Theatres, cathedrals, libraries, hotels and banquet halls across Canada are booked for morning wedding celebration parties, with the hearty souls on the West Coast rising before dawn for the noon-hour ceremony in Great Britain.

“I’m going to enjoy every bit of it,” says Otto, a member of the Royal Commonwealth Society’s Vancouver Island branch. “Embrace it. My dress is a work in progress. I’m sure I’ll have either a fascinator or I’m seriously thinking of getting a brand new hat.”

The Royal Commonwealth Society and the Victoria chapter of the Monarchist League of Canada have teamed up to host a royal wedding breakfast buffet bash at the city’s 139-year-old Union Club.

Guests are invited to arrive at 3 a.m. They should be dressed in appropriate wedding attire, where they’ll watch a live television broadcast of the wedding.

“I call it fun, frivolous and foolish,” Otto says. “Why not? Sometimes life is too serious and we just need to … interject something that’s really fun to do. It’s an opportunity to focus on something very positive and that part of it is wonderful because there is such negative news in the world all the time.”

Wendy Hart says she’s excited about the wedding, but staging a viewing party at 6 a.m. in Winnipeg wasn’t generating much buzz.

Instead, the Manitoba wings of the Monarchist League, United Empire Loyalists and Royal Commonwealth Society will gather at noon Central time for a champagne luncheon to view the wedding on tape delay at the castle-like University of Winnipeg Club, she says.

“People were not that keen to get up that early in the morning,” Hart says. “It’s going to be so pleasant to watch it at a reasonable time of day.”

She says Prince Harry and Meghan have captivated millions around the world with their love story and the bonds they created.

“It’s not just a royal wedding,” Hart says. “It’s a union involving North America and the United Kingdom. We’re crossing the ocean on this one.”

In Toronto, where Harry and Meghan’s romance blossomed, a 7 a.m. viewing party is being held at the Duke of Cornwall pub, which has room for about 160 people. Participants will watch the ceremony on television, feast on English-style breakfasts and participate in a royal trivia quiz.

U.K. expat Paulo Antunes, who operates the Toronto online site Typically British, says he expects long-time royal enthusiasts and younger Harry and Meghan fans to gather for the celebration.

“Our event is a mixed bag,” he says. “We’re getting older people who have been following all the major royal events for years and there’s these young people who are excited for Harry and they’re excited for Meghan who lived 20 minutes down the street.”

Markle resided in Toronto for several years while filming the television series Suits.

Antunes says the pub will serve royal-flavoured non-alcoholic drinks, including Ginger and Tonic, Long Island High Tea, Harry Wallbanger and Bloody Meghan.

You’ll find festivities east of Ontario too. The historic British restaurant Bar George in Montreal is hosting a viewing party, complete with platters of scones and sandwiches. The Delta Halifax in Nova Scotia is hosting a breakfast spread with their live screening.

David Spence, a retired United Church minister, says he’s going to be wearing his McDuff tartan kilt to the breakfast wedding ceremony at Victoria’s Union Club.

At his Brentwood Bay home, just 20 kilometres northwest of Victoria, Spence, who performed the wedding ceremony for Paralympian and activist Rick Hansen and Amanda Reid, says he’s become enamoured with Harry and Meghan and what they represent to the world.

“People are infatuated with a young couple who reflects the diversity of what the modern Commonwealth is all about,” says Spence, who is the Vancouver Island president of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

“They have an energy level they are sharing with the world. They’ve gone through some difficult parts of their lives in order to reach this level of identity with people.”

The Union Club; Present Past and Future: the Billiards Memorial Totem and Time-Capsule

The Billiard Room – past, present and future…

During the 24 years that I have been a member of the Union Club, I have gradually become aware that one of the qualities I like best about the Club is the retro-style ambiance. I often point out to my friends and guests that coming into the Union Club is like entering the set of a Humphrey Bogart movie in terms of surroundings and general ambiance! It is beautiful, and also reflects and respects the style and good taste of the past. This authentic milieu is distinct and set apart, it is a retreat from the faster and more voracious Body-Politic that surrounds us.

Shakespeare quotation located on the Billiards Memorial Totem

The Billiards Room at the Union Club contributes to and is a part of this retro milieu; the room has  been in continual use for billiards and snooker-related activities for over a century! The tables and the soft green lights contribute to the general authentic retro ambiance. The same type of full size tables still grace many historic homes and castles in Europe. As such, the billiards room has a kind of understated elegance, and quietly contributes to the retro style that graces the building as a whole.

As part of the Union Club we respect the past and honour those who are no longer with us. For example, we have a Billiards Memorial Totem located on the east wall of the Billiard Room. This is an antique cue case that we use to honour the memory, by way of a small brass inscribed plaque, of the names of players who are no longer with us.

Billiards Memorial Totem; located on the east wall of the Billiards room.

We have also inserted a time-capsule tube into this totem! It is scheduled to be opened in 100 years time. This adds character and depth to the already excellent totem. We are using an anodized aluminium tube as a protective cover for rolled pages. Once it is sealed it will be both water tight and air tight and, hopefully, it will protect and maintain the enclosed information for 100 years.

We have included information related to three themes:

  • The billiards room milieu is highlighted because this is a billiards memorial Totem. We have included pictures and statistics related to our billiards and snooker activities. We review our activities, and this may be interesting for comparison purposes. Some things change over time, and some do not. If there is a group of people playing snooker at the Union Club in 2118 they may well be interested in these types of comparisons. We also have included some individual player page profiles of current member/players; these are interspersed throughout, and add a personal touch.
  • The purpose of a time capsule is mainly to provide “a snapshot in time” and therefore we are including information and references to current events at the Union Club. We are focusing on the first six months of 2018 as our snapshot in time. For example, the recently established custom of giving featured artists increased visibility at the Union Club is colourful and progressive, and I know they enjoy having their work displayed in our beautiful retro milieu.  Other current developments, such as the possible election of our first female President, would surely be a sign of the times at the Union Club!  There are many other samples of information that are suitable such as the recent heritage designation of the building, the Union Club finances, formal menu, and so on.
  • The City of Victoria. We are located in Victoria, at the Union Club, and some of the details related to occurrences that coincide with our “snapshot in time” provide genuine context and perspective. For example the “100 Year Johnson Street Bridge” is a perfect story to coincide with the launching of our (100 year) time-capsule.  Another example is in regard to the current Victoria real estate market; this may be of interest to future residents! In fact, there is much more relevant information than there is space (ie: pages). In the end, it is very interesting to select and locate information that will provide some anchor points to this “moment in time”.

Our plan is to complete the assembly of the time capsule by mid-summer of 2018. Following this, which includes adding pages to the outside as well as the inside of the anodized aluminium tube, we will shrink wrap the whole package, and it will be placed in the billiards memorial totem for posterity; scheduled to be opened in 2118!  Once this is accomplished we will seal the totem, probably in the early fall season and well before the end of the calendar year.

So, this is a small project, and very local to the billiards room, but it seemed a good candidate for a UC blog post! Thank you for taking time to read about our remembrance totem.

Best Wishes to enjoy the spectacular blush of the spring and summer season on beautiful Vancouver Island!

Brian W. Johnson, Club member

Shakespeare quote inscribed on the Billiards Memorial Totem.

Notice of the Annual General Meeting

Please take notice that the 139th Annual General Meeting of The Union Club of British Columbia will be held in the Centennial Ballroom of the Union Club, on June 7, 2018, at 4:30pm for the purpose of transacting the following business:

1) To receive the report of the General Committee for the past year and the Audited Financial Statements of the Club for the year ending March 31st, 2018, together with the report of the auditors thereon.

2) To appoint an auditor.

3) To elect a President, Vice-President and three Members of the General Committee.

4) Generally to take into consideration the position and the prospects of the Club.

5) To consider and resolve any special business of which due notice has been given.

By the General Committee
Dated at Victoria, BC, May 1st, 2018

Notes: Members in default as defined in the By-Laws shall be disqualified from attending or voting at any meeting of the Members. The following categories are entitled to vote: Life, Senior, Resident, Resident-Intermediate, Intermediate, Firm & Privileged.

Victoria’s-Own Cliff Thorburn Triumphs in Seniors Masters

Cliff Thorburn (center) with the John Spencer Trophy.

Cliff Thorburn rolled back the years to claim the inaugural Seniors Masters title at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on Thursday, April 12, 2018.

The Canadian, who memorably won the prestigious Masters three times in four years between 1983 and 1986, dramatically overcame Jonathan Bagley 2-1 in the final after potting the re-spotted black in the decider.

Thorburn had earlier in the day received a bye in the quarter-finals after the late withdrawal of 1986 world champion Joe Johnson, who was taken ill on Wednesday and had to be admitted to hospital.

The 70 year-old faced John Parrott in the last four and a break of 51 helped him to a 2-0 victory over the Liverpudlian.

Bagley, who also lost in the final of the Irish Seniors Mastersearlier this season, had reached the final thanks to victories over Dennis Taylor and Michael Judge, the latter having previously accounted for favourite Stephen Hendry in a tense last eight clash that was settled after the Scot went in-off with the cueball on the final black.

Bagley took the lead in the showdown for glory but Thorburn managed to level and, after a long and tense safety battle, the “Grinder” completed a routine pot to complete the triumph to the delight of the crowd.

With the greatest of respects to the likes of Bagley, who has taken to the World Seniors Tour like a duck to water, or Jersey’s Aaron Canavan, who emerged as a surprise candidate to brilliantly lift the World Seniors Championship trophy aloft last month, Thorburn’s glory will go down as one of the most popular of the entire campaign and is a just reward for the fans who forked out in the hope of seeing some of the legends of yesteryear performing on centre stage again.

Thorburn certainly enjoyed his winning moment as, upon seeing the black disappear, raised his arms over his head akin to how he celebrated his famous maiden 147 break at the Crucible more than three decades ago.

The 1980 world champion said: “It’s very meaningful for me being back here at the Crucible. Jonathan actually beat me the last few times but I just felt good being here – there are lots of good memories here.”

“I’m 70 now and I get a little nervy but I’m just so proud to win the first John Spencer Trophy. John helped me to turn pro and he was a great friend for all of my life, he was a classy individual.”

It brings to a conclusion the inaugural season in the World Seniors Tour and, barring a few unfortunate withdrawals from some of the legends that couldn’t be helped, it has appeared to have been a roaring success.

Snooker Legends promoter Jason Francis has worked wonderfully at getting this initiative off the ground and there’s a foundation there now from which to build on and grow the tour into a long-term project.

With triumphs during this campaign for Thorburn in the Seniors Masters, Steve Davis in the Irish Seniors Masters, and Jimmy White in the UK Seniors Championship, it just goes to show that there’s plenty of competitive spirit left in the old dogs yet.

Past President – In Memoriam…


John Lytton Mara, known as Lytton to his friends and family, was born in Lytton, British Columbia, in 1888.

He was the son of the Union Club’s 8th President, Mr. John Andrew Mara, a Victoria pioneer. His mother was Alice Barnard, daughter of Sir Frank Barnard, of Barnard Express fame.

When the Second World War broke out Mr. Mara enlisted with the Royal Navy and returned to Victoria as a Lieutenant. He co-founded Mara, Bates Real Estate and Financial, a company that prospered in Victoria for many years.

In 1925 he entered politics and was elected as a Victoria City Alderman, and served in this capacity until 1931. Mr. Mara was a keen yachtsman and for many years was involved with the Victoria Yacht Club.

John Lytton Mara died on April 25, 1979, at the age of 92.

Past President – In Memoriam…


James H. McGregor was a well known and highly respected provincial land surveyor. He lived in Oak Bay and was actively involved with the decision to separate from Victoria City, when a petition requesting incorporation was filed with the Provincial Secretary, Hon. F.J. Fulton on May 19th, 1906.

The petition of incorporation was granted on June 13th, of that year. James H. McGregor chaired the first meeting of 35 residents held at the old Oak Bay school on Foul Bay Road.

Among the prominent citizens who attended were W.E. Oliver, F.M. Rattenbury, William Noble, Frank Burrell and John Virtue. Some of these Gentlemen were very involved with The Union Club of BC.

Oliver was chosen Oak Bay’s first reeve. James McGregor served as an Oak Bay City Councillor from 1909 to 1914, when he enlisted in the Army to fight for Canada in the First World War. Captain James Herrick McGregor served with the 16th Battalion of the Canadian Scottish, Canadian Expeditionary Force.

He enlisted in 1914 and was killed in action during the battle of St. Julien, April 24, 1915.

The Union Club’s McGregor Lounge is proudly named after him…