Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Old club may rise again in city

Former member books Doer to speak

  • Print
Jim Brennan at the Canadian Club's temporary headquarters in the United Way building on Main Street.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Jim Brennan at the Canadian Club's temporary headquarters in the United Way building on Main Street. Photo Store

A former member of the Canadian Club of Winnipeg is hoping to bring one of the city's oldest institutions back from the dead.

The non-profit, apolitical organization was "100 per cent broke" 18 months ago when Jim Brennan decided to try reviving it. It hadn't hosted a luncheon in many months and those that were held were increasingly poorly attended.

No sense coming back with anything less than a bang, so the first luncheon under Brennan's watch -- thanks to a few strings pulled by University of Winnipeg president Lloyd Axworthy -- features none other than former Manitoba premier and current Canadian ambassador to the United States Gary Doer, Dec. 6 at the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg.

"He's the Mick Jagger of Manitoba politics," Brennan said.

One high-profile luncheon does not a comeback make, so Brennan has a taken a few other steps he believes are crucial in re-establishing the Canadian Club as a viable entity.

First, he has formed a new board of committed directors. Second, he persuaded Philip Lee, Manitoba's lieutenant-governor, to be its honorary patron. Third, he has returned the annual membership price to $40, less than half the $85 it cost a couple of years ago.

He has also made an overture to the Women's Canadian Club of Winnipeg, which has about 50 members, and asked about one of them sitting on his board.

"I think it's important to come together. Every club I know argues that it doesn't have enough members. Why have two clubs with the same name just because it's men and women? That's a little old-fashioned, isn't it? Let's do it together," he said.

He has negotiated the use of an office at the United Way headquarters on Main Street and will be able to use its boardroom when required.

The last time the Canadian Club hosted a luncheon was in the spring of 2011 when another former premier, Howard Pawley, was the speaker.

At the time, the Canadian Club had about 250 members, a far cry from the 625 in 2001.

Not long after the Pawley luncheon, the board called a meeting and decided to cease operations. That session was led by Bill McDonald, CEO of the Winnipeg Humane Society.

"We found the competition too much. The people who can afford to go to a lunch have too many options now. There's the mayor's state of the union lunch and the Winnipeg Chamber is doing lunches now, too. We weren't breaking even on some lunches and we saw a long, dark road of going down to nothing," he said.

McDonald, however, supports Brennan's efforts and said he will renew his membership. In particular, he likes his idea of fewer but bigger lunches every year -- say, one in the spring and another in the fall -- instead of seven or eight monthly events.

The big draws are typically political, including Bob Rae and Paul Martin, and some are business-oriented, such as Leonard Asper, but crowds dropped off for sports and entertainment figures, Brennan said.

He is confident audiences will return once the word gets out.

"We will get members. The evidence is on my (voice mail)," he said.

He hopes the big-name speakers will keep coming. A request has been sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office for him to speak this winter.

"He's the only prime minister who has not spoken to the Canadian Club of Winnipeg. We've had every prime minister for the last 100 years."

 

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 11, 2013 B6

History

Updated on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 6:46 AM CDT: Replaces photo

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Lindor Reynolds speaks candidly about life with terminal cancer

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Canada goose flies towards the sun near the Perimeter Highway North and Main St Monday afternoon – See Day 10 for Bryksa’s 30 goose project - May 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100527-Winnipeg Free Press THe Provencher Foot Bridge is lit up

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will you get out and vote for a new mayor and council?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google