Our History 

 

For more than 118 years, the Empire Club of Canada has provided a forum for speakers to engage, debate and educate, advancing dialogue on issues of importance to Canadians.  

 

Established in 1903, as a response to Canadian political unrest, the Empire Club of Canada quickly became a leading speakers’ forum. The first speakers addressed topics related to Canada’s strategic relationships with the United Kingdom and the United States and the name of the Club reflected its founders’ desire for the country to maintain strong ties to the Commonwealth.  

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Since its inception, the ECC has hosted 3500 prominent Canadian and international leaders, including Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, the Dalai Lama, Indira Gandhi, Audrey Hepburn, Christopher Plummer, Roberta Bondar, Maureen Forrester, Adrienne Clarkson, Margaret Thatcher, Vladimir Putin, Bill Gates and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

 

​As a club of record, all speeches and conversations that happen at the Club’s podium (in-person or virtually) are chronicled and made accessible to all. For many years, a yearbook containing all the speeches from the season was distributed free of charge by the Empire Club Foundation to universities, consulates and libraries across the country and beyond. This annual “Red Book” is now digitized and archived enabling all to have access to this unique history of public discourse.  

 

The Empire Club of Canada has evolved over the years and strives to ensure diversity is reflected in topics and speakers and in its governance structures. The Club recognizes that over its 118-year history, there have been viewpoints expressed at its podium by speakers that perpetuated and reinforced colonial attitudes and oppression. These do not reflect the Club’s commitment to equity, inclusion and reconciliation.  

 

The ECC believes that public dialogue has immense power to connect people to ideas and each other, and in the importance of the inclusion of different voices and perspectives.