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Toronto Camera Club History

<p>Image Credit: Jaclyn Siou, Georgian Bay Sunrise</p>On March 17th 1888, it was formally organized at a meeting held in the Gentlemen's Room at the Old Queen's Hotel.  An extract of the Minutes of the Meeting reads:

Moved by Mr. W.B. McMurrich then mayor of Toronto seconded by Mr. Hugh Neilson that we agree to form an Amateur Photographic Association in the terms of the circular laid before the meeting to be known as the Toronto Amateur Photographic Association and that a committee of seven be appointed to draft rules see as to location of rooms, ascertain the names of the Members who will join and report fully at the next meeting.

Five years later on January 19th 1893, the Association was incorporated under the Benevolent Societies Act as The Toronto Camera Club.

The Club's first Salon was opened on May 18th 1892 and according to a report in the Toronto Globe of that date, It was a brilliant success.

On November 15th1920, twenty-seven years after its Incorporation, the Club was re-incorporated under The Ontario Companies Act as a Corporation without share capital.

In March 1954, the Club moved from its quarters at 2 Gould St. which it had occupied since 1902 to 130 Eglinton Avenue East.  In 1965, the Club moved to its present location at 587 Mount Pleasant Road after acquiring the building and in 1978 extensively renovated it to suit its purposes.

The Club has operated without interruption ever since its founding, celebrating its Centennial in 1988.

Here is a history of the Toronto Camera Club, was that wonderfully summarized in an article entitled The Toronto Camera Club Celebrates 125 Years, published in the Canadian Camera Magazine (Spring 2013, Page 7). The original article has been re-formatted, to accommodate the website layout.

The Toronto Camera Club Celebrates 125 Years

It hardly seems possible that a century and a quarter have passed since the founding of Canada's oldest camera club. Still focused on its mission -to study and promote the art of photography in all its branches - the Toronto Camera Club remains one of Toronto's, and one of Canada's, most venerable institutions. The Toronto Camera Club has a storied history. Its archives and accompanying memorabilia reveal an organization of eager volunteers passionate about sharing their love of photography with one another and with other community photography enthusiasts. Some of Canada's finest photographers have been members of the Club. Hundreds of amateur photographers have learned the art of photography and enriched their practice of the craft as members of the Club.

The following dates summarize the Club's history:

Date Description
March17, 1888   The Club was organized as the Toronto Amateur Photographic Association. The then Mayor of Toronto, W. B. McMurrich, moved the enabling motion. Some 20 names were on the list.
November 1888   The first regular meeting of the Association was held in rented rooms belonging to the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
May18-20, 1889   Club members enjoyed the first outing to DiGrassi Point on Lake Simcoe.
November 1889   The first Annual General Meeting was held. The Club leased premises in the Yonge Street Market Membership grew to 103.
May 1892   The Club's first photography Salon was opened; the Toronto Globe reported it was a brilliant success.
January 19, 1893   The Association was incorporated under the Benevolent Societies Act as the Toronto Camera Club.
November 1893   The Club held its first public presentation, an annual tradition that continues today.
November 1895   The question of admitting lady members was raised at the Annual General Meeting and referred to the Executive Committee for study and report. At a Special General Meeting, it was decided to admit ladies affording them limited privileges, although they could vote and hold office. Very few ladies took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy these limited privileges.
January 1896   A Program Committee was created to prepare a monthly program.
October 1900   The first showing of colour slides occurred at the Club.
September 1905   The Club moved into new premises in the Bank of Hamilton at the coner of Yonge and Gould streets where it would remain for almost fifty years.
August 1908   The Club's Toronto International Salon of Photography was held for the first time at the Canadian National Exhibition, with99prints exhibited.
November 1920   The Club was re-incorporated under the Ontario Companies Act, as a corporation without share capital.
August 1929   Over1,200 prints were received by the International Salon from photographers in 35 countries; 370 prints were selected for exhibition.
January 1931   The Club newsletter, FOCUS, was launched. It is now publishing volume 83.
March 1938   The Club celebrated 50 years
October 1942   The By-Laws were amended to accept lady members as Active Members on the same terms as men, with the same privilege.
November 1943   The Club's first colour section was established

In the last 25 years, the Toronto Camera Club has grown to an average membership of 350. It still operates the International Salon, this year conducting its 119th edition. It still conducts its Public Presentation in April, with excellent attendance from the community. It continues to associate itself with social activities, this past year partnering with the Alzheimer Society of Toronto for the Society's photography contest.

It presents an annual series of 12 lectures by prominent Toronto photographers. It plays a leading role in the Greater Toronto Council of Camera Clubs (GTCCC). It maintains a website ( to publicize its activities, update its membership and showcase exceptional photographic images. It publishes a newsletter that has won numerous awards in its class. And for its new and continuing members, the Club continues to offer a packed program of competitions. workshops, gallery exhibits and outings.

The Club exists for its members. Were it not for the many volunteers who step forward each year to contribute their time and talents to make it the amazing organization it is, the Club would surely have ceased to exist long ago. Even the effects of two world wars, the financial crisis of the twenties and periodic declines in interest and membership could not extinguish the attachment of members who love and promote photography - then and now. With continued support from current and future members as well as the community, the Toronto camera Club will survive well into the future.

Past Presidents' Interviews

In 2018 Ray Anderson - Past President now & Life Member, interviewed eight Toronto Camera Club Past Presidents, that included:

  • Betty Roots, 1997-1998, 2005-2006
  • Bill Reith, 2012-2013, 2013-2014
  • Carolyn Thompson,  1998-1999, 1999-2000
  • Ellen Anger, 1993-1994, 2004-2005
  • Gord McElroy, 2008-2009, 2010
  • Michael Collins, 2006-2007, 2007-2008
  • Ralph Brunner, 1981-1982, 1982-1983, 1983-1984, 2000-2001

These Members were kind to offer their time and views on the Club’s History, Membership, Salon, Competitions, and suggestions for the future.

Click the video below to view.

Image Credit: Jaclyn Siou, Georgian Bay Sunrise