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The Evening Music Club, St. Thomas fonds
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- The Evening Music Club
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40 cm of textual records
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Mrs. J. C. Smith, wife of J. C. Smith, Inspector of Public Schools for East Elgin, formed the Evening Music Club in the spring of 1921. She invited seven young women who were studying music to discuss the idea: Miss Violet Voaden, Miss Mary Edge, Miss Dorothy Horton, Miss Mae Cunningham, Miss Rosa Tuck, Miss Gladys Watson and Miss Gladys Abbott. Her plan was to form a music club that would occasionally meet in the evenings and whose membership would be open to any young women with an interest in music. The group of women decided to hold the inaugural meeting on Tuesday May 17, 1921 and to invite others who might be anxious to join.
The inaugural meeting was held at Mrs. Smith’s home, 34 Williams Street, St. Thomas at eight o’clock pm with twenty-four in attendance: Mrs. George C. Carrie, Honorary President ; Mrs. Frank Griffin, Mrs. J. McManus and Mrs. E.W. McKay, Honorary Vice Presidents ; Mrs. J. C. Smith, President ; Miss Mae Cunningham, Vice President ; Miss Mary Edge, Secretary ; Miss Violet Voaden, Treasurer ; Miss Helen Garrard, Press Representative ; Miss Gladys Abbott, Mrs J. Raymor, Miss Dorothy Horton, Miss Miss Gladys Watson, Miss Rosa Tuck, Miss Helen Gerrard and Mrs. J. C. Smith, Membership Committee. Mrs. Smith was the president from its inception until June 1925, along with various later years. The committee continued to function with new members added as people moved from the city, or as younger members resumed their duties. The annual meeting of the Executive Committee was when resigned members were honored with a beautiful cup and saucer for their service.
The second meeting was when the club was formally named “The Evening Music Club” on May 31, 1921. At first the meetings were held at the homes of members, but as membership grew they moved over to Alma College and then to Knox Presbyterian Church when the club bought a grand piano, and finally to the newly built Central Elgin Collegiate Institute for use of their stage. Early on in the club’s history membership was opened up to men and anyone in the community could join. The Executive committee grew in size to sixty members to reach the surrounding communities.
In the beginning the club was mainly a discussion group that also performed concerts for the city and surrounding districts. Eventually it was decided to engage budding professional artists and run the recitals in concert style, enjoying great success. Singers and instrumentalists and, in later years, opera companies came to St. Thomas to perform with great demand from the community. The club made every effort to foster an interest in music and presented medals annually to successful students of music. The club members carried on strong, working to educate and entertain the public for many years. On July 2, 1969 the club approved the new name “Community Music Series” but it didn’t start to appear in advertisements until November 1969.
The records were donated ca. 1980 to the Elgin County Pioneer Museum, later in 2006 renamed Elgin County Museum, and remained in their collection until July 23, 2014, when they were transferred to the Elgin County Archives.
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